Banyan Tree Temple,
Bintan Island, Indonesia
One of the most well known places in Bintan Island, Riau Province is the Banyan Tree Temple. This temple is mentioned in almost all tourist literatures and is considered a “must see” for all visitors to Bintan.
The Banyan Tree Temple is a Chinese shrine worshipped by locals. The shrine is a new development although probably decades old and occupies an older building said to be 200 years ago.
The temple structure is wrapped and held together by the roots of a banyan tree hence its name Banyan Tree temple.
Very little information is available about the shrine or the origins of the building. A possible clue is a stone plaque at the entrance of the structure. The plaque is carved with three Chinese characters “Da Fu Di” 大夫第.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, “Da Fu Di” 大夫第 usually refers to the private residences of middle and lower ranking court officials. If this stone plaque was commissioned at the time of construction, then the original owners might have come from scholarly families.
Senggarang where the Banyan Tree Temple is located was believed to be one of the first major Chinese area on Bintan Island so it does make sense for such prominent families to build their homes there.
However, this hypothesis cannot be validated as the stone plague does not bear any inscriptions relating to the owner or the year in which it was produced.
Partly because of the political history of Overseas Chinese in Indonesia, the history of the Banyan Tree Temple and its original owners might never be known.
In any case, the Banyan Tree growing next to the temple and surrounding the structure with its roots does seem to have added an air of mystery if not sacredness to people who pray at the temple.
If you have a chance to visit Bintan Island, visit the Banyan Tree Temple and make your guess.
Banyan Tree Temple
Riau Province, Indonesia