TANA TORAJA TOUR, SOUTH SULAWESI
to the Tana Toraja, the "Land of Heavenly Kings".
The long drive from the lowlands to the
mountain stronghold of Tana Toraja opens up a breath-taking new world. The
rugged mountains and verdant valleys are home to a people whose
love of religious spectacle is equaled only by their hospitality.
With majestic panoramas, captivating villages and dramatic ceremonies,
Tana Toraja is the undisputed highlight of any journey to Sulawesi.
Upgraded roads, an airport and several
star-rated hotels have opened the Toraja highland to visitors of
all interests. The essence of the Toraja beliefs and way of life
can be experienced without undue effort, as many interesting sites
are clustered around the town of Rantepao, easily accessible by
Toraja Land whose
ancestor oriented group believes that their forefathers descended from heaven
onto a mountain some twenty generations ago. Their colourful culture is especially
rich in elaborate sacrificial, post mortuary, and cave burial sites.
Toraja (Toraja Land), which lies in the north of the province is known for its
unique culture and ancient traditions. The center of tourism is Rantepao, 328
km from Ujung Pandang by road. There are several small bungalow hotels at Rantepao,
and Makale, the district capital. The entry to Tana Toraja is marked by a gate
built in traditional boat-shaped architecture. The road passes through the mountains
of Kandora and Gandang on which, according to Toraja mythology, the first ancestors
of celestial beings descended from heaven. The majority of the people still follows
an ancestral cult called "Aluk Todolo" which governs all traditional ceremonies.
From Rantepao, side trips can be made to Kete, a traditional village where there
are handicraft and unique shops. Behind the village there is a grave site on a
hillside. Life-size statues guard over old coffins. As roads are not always paved,
it is necessary to use a jeep or walk if the weather is good (between May and
cliff graves easy to reach are Lemo and Londa. Londa is one of the oldest hanging
graves belonging to the nobility. A large balcony is filled with effigies of the
dead. Kerosene lamps with young village guides, can be hired to enter the caves
to see skeletons and old coffins. At Lemo, burial chambers are cut out of the
rock and several balconies filled with effigies look out while new caves are being
dug to serve as family graves.
are several grave sites and traditional villages of which Palawa is a classic
example of a village on a small hill with "Tongkonan" or a burial place with celebrations
and festivals. Visitors are welcome but they are expected to adhere to local customs
of dress, seating and bringing a token present.
From all of the Toraja ceremonies, the most important are those concerned with sending
a dead PEOPLE to the afterworld. Without proper funeral rites, the spirit of the
deceased will cause misfortune to its family. Funeral sacrifices and feasts are
meant to impress the gods with the importance of the deceased so that the spirit
can intercede effectively on behalf of living relatives. Funerals can be spread
out over several days and involve hundreds of guests and the sacrifice of scores
of buffalo. Feasting, dancing and singing may be supplemented by cock-fighting,
sisemba (kick-fighting) and even buffalo fights in which the bulls, quite rightly
agitated by the insertion of chilli up their behind, lock horns and strain against
you are invited to a ceremony, be sure to dress respectfully, bring gifts to hand
around and don't sit in areas designated for guests or family members. Taking
photographs is acceptable, but do it with restraint. The best time to visit Rantepao
is between March and May, though most funeral ceremonies are held in the `party
season' lasting from July to September. July and August is the high season and
hotel prices skyrocket.
> 4 DAYS TORAJA TOUR
> 6 DAYS TORAJA TOUR
> ABOUT ADVENTURE INDONESIA