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Not many have heard of the town of Dompu on Sumbawa. But for avid mountain climbers Dompu is a small attractive town on the trek leading up north to Mt. Tambora, the supervolcano on Sumbawa, whose mega explosion on 11 April 1815 caused the “Year without Summer” in far away Europe the following year. For surfers, the town of Dompu lies on the road to some unbelievable left hander surf at Lakey Beach and Hu’u by the Cemani Bay, some 40 km. south of Dompu.
Unlike surrounding hot and dry areas on the island of Sumbawa, the district of Dompu boasts refreshing fertile plains where the simplicity of life harmonizes with scenic landscape. Travellers should therefore not expect luxurious accommodation facilities here.
Contrary to its present simple condition, nonetheless, Dompu was once a significant sultanate. In the 14th century, the powerful viceroy of the empire of Majapahit in East Java Gajah Mada, personally led an invasion of Dompu and neighbouring kingdoms, when the region then came under the rule of Majapahit.
However, at the explosion of Mount Tambora on 10–11 April 1815, the sultanates of Dompu, and its people, together with the other sultanates of Tambora, Sanggar and Pekat were completely wiped out, buried under the hot clouds, ash and lava of Mt. Tambora. A new Islamic sultanate later emerged on Dompu, but ended in the early 20th century.
Dompu is the third largest city on the island of Sumbawa in West Nusatenggara, located between Flores to its east, in the East Nusa Tenggara province, and Lombok, to its west.
For archaeological buffs, there are alluring sites here dating back to the old kingdoms which can still be found in explorations on Sumbawa.
In Dompu there is an archaeological site, precisely at Doro Bata, meaning mountain or hill in the local language. Doro Bata is a hill of bricks in the middle of the town's residential area in the Village of Kandai I, Dompu District. This site is believed to have been part of the Dompu palace when Dompu was under the control of the Majapahit empire.
A number of archaeologists and researchers have also come to Doro Bata to do minor excavations around it in an attempt to uncover its history buried here whose civilization was completely destroyed by the Tambora volcanic eruption, which included the Dompo Sultanate. It is speculated that on the Doro Bata site was once a building which was a place of worship and a meeting place for the local Ncuhi or chieftains.
Excavations have discovered bricks from a temple at a depth of 1.5 meters. Around Doro Bata there have also been discovered some relics, such as the Candi Sambi Tangga (Sambi Temple Stairs, approximately 1 kilometer from Doro Bata) and the Warukali site, believed to be an ancient tomb complex, located some 2 kilometers from Dompu. At the peak of Doro Bata, were also found small ancient wells in an area of around 100 square meters, used by town residents during the dry season.
Dompu is located in east of Sumbawa island and can be reached via air transport, land, or sea.
If you are coming from Jakarta or other cities it is usually through the airport in Bima, which is named Mohammad Salahuddin Airport. From Bima, take a bus to Dompu. From Bima to Dompu the distance is approximately 100km or around a 3 hours’ drive.
If you arrive from Denpasar towards Dompu, you can take a bus directly to Dompu. The journey takes approximately 2.5 days. The road from Denpasar to Dompu is long and tiring but very scenic in some locations along the route.
When traveling by sea, your destination is to the port at Bima. The ship sails twice a month. There is also a freight ferry from Lombok to the Port Tano (West Sumbawa). From there, there are buses available to Dompu.