Penyengat Island, 6 kilometers away from Tanjung Pinang, can be reached in 15 minutes by sampan boat. The seat of the powerful Bugis descended viceroys of Riau during the 18th century; Penyengat still bears the traces of its illustrious past. Ruins, abandoned for almost 70 years, were recently resorted. The oldest ruler’s palace and royal tombs, among them the grave of the book respected Sultan Haji, author of the first Malay language grammar book among the legacies left by the Riau sultanate. A newly built cultural center for stage performances of Malay music and dances can be found.
In the 18th century Raja Haji built an outpost here as part of the defense around Bintan. He controlled the area until the Dutch at Malacca eventually killed him in 1784. His remains are now buried here. The ruler of Johor, Sultan Mahmud, gave the island to his Bugis wife Raja Hamidah in 1804. Raja Hamidah’s son then ruled the Riau islands from Penyengat, while his half-brother ruled in the Lingga Island to the south. Raffles turned this division to his advantage in 1819, when the prince of Penyengat gave him the island of Singapore in return for a large sum of money and the protection of the British crown.
Under the protection and support of the British the area saw an “golden age”, and the remains of this prosperous time can still be seen on the island. Some of the ruins have recently been restored, like the old ruler’s palace and royal tombs. The old mosque, Mesjid Raya, is still in use. A cultural center is also newly built for performances of Malay music and dance. At the west end of the island there is an impressive stone fort, built by Raja Haji to fend off Dutch attacks.
The restored palace of Raja Ali is located in the center of the island. Raja Ali was a strict follower of Islam, things like gambling and cockfighting, the wearing of gold and silk for men and mixing of unmarried men and women were strictly forbidden. His yellow and green Royal Mosque can be seen from far away, completed in 1844 it became an important center for Muslim Malay learning in the 19th century. Penyengat Island actually became the cultural capital of the Malay world, and some 9.000 people inhabited the island, among them religious scholars from as far away as Mecca.
The importance of Penyengat ended when the last Sultan of the Riau-Lingga, Abdul Rahman Muazzan Shah, refused to sign a contract with the Dutch that terminated the rights and authority of the traditional king and officers of Riau. The Dutch then informed him that his palaces, buildings, land, etc, would be confiscated. To prevent this, he ordered Penyengat people to destroy the Dutch possessions on the island, this is the reason why there is not much left on Penyengat that shows its former glory. Today there are about 2.500 people living on the island, about one third of them are descendants of the former royalty, most of the residents make their living of fishing, while some work on the main island.
Because the participation of Penyengat Island was very important in historical of Riau Kingdom, so the island what relatively is very small it is to be well known and attention peoples to visit it. More over at there is still has much kind of historical last sites. At this island beside has much some kind of historical sites; it founded another interest objects like wonderful views, tradition couch, arts attraction, and traditional villages.