If you want to find your marriage partner, approach the woman sitting in the gazebo. She’s waiting for somebody to come up to her,” said a driver guiding visitors to the Pohon Purba (Ancient Trees) tourist spot in Pringgabaya, East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
The guide further described the local custom of hanging around under the lian trees, locally called pohon cinta, in the belief that they will meet their soulmates in the area. Visitors consist of tourists who love taking selfies and men and women who sit in shade under the trees to wait for future spouses.
The huge trees, totaling about 40, appeal to everybody passing along the northern route of Lombok Island. Nobody knows the exact age of the trees, which have the Latin name Ficus albipila, but the local community has always regarded them as centuries old.
The ancient trees are 75 kilometers east of Mataram and occupy an area of 4 hectares. The plot of land designated for tourism only covers 1.5 hectares with about 40 trees that are 40 to 50 meters in height.
As the local people consider them sacred trees, nobody dares to damage them, let alone fell them. The myth of pohon cinta may serve as a way to protect the trees from being cut down, as the local wisdom frequently used by traditional communities calls for environmental protection.