Mataram is the capital of the province which has in the past decades
joined with Ampenan, the port, and Cakranegara to become the province's
biggest urban complex.
At around the beginning of the 18th century, Mataram was the residence
of the crown prince of Karang Asem, a kingdom in southern Bali.
The ruler himself had his seat in Cakranegara. The royal palace
no longer exists, but many of the old temples and pleasure gardens
are still there.
Lombok's biggest Balinese temple is the Pura Meru in Cakranegara.
Dedicated to the Hindu trinity, Brahma and Vishnu, it was built
in 1720 by Anak Agung Made Karang, which has three courtyards. Three
pagoda like places of worship stand in a line from north to south
in the innermost courtyard. The one on the north is dedicated to
Vishnu and has a roof with nine tiers. The central is dedicated
to Shiva with 11 tiers on its roof and the southernmost one is for
Brahma with a roof of seven tiers. Nearby is Taman Mayura. once
part of the royal palace, it has an artificial lake set in the middle
of a park. A raised path leads from the side of the pond to a pavilion
built in the middle of the lake. In former, days, justice was meted
out and religious rituals were performed in this open-sided pavilion.