Spanish and Portuguese galleons, followed by British and Dutch trading ships, sailed the waters South Sulawesi in search of spices, escorted by manof-wars to protect them against the daring raids of the Buginese (Bugis) and Makassarese (Makassar) pirates. Famed for their seafaring culture, the Bugis are still the driving force behind the world’s last commercial sailing fleet. The maritime Bugis dominate the southern tip of Sulawesi. Further north is the rugged and remarkable country of Tana Toraja, often referred to as the ‘Land of the Heavenly Kings’.
South Sulawesi is also famous for its vistas and quality of silk cloth and silver work industries. In Takalar, the ‘Galesong Festival’ thanksgiving ceremony is held annually on May, where offerings are cast into the sea in hope of a bountiful future in the coming year.
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South Sulawesi Places of Interest
also known as Benteng Makassar, is a 16th century fort built by the ninth king of the great Kingdom of Gowa. Its original name was Benteng Panyyua, but was later changed to Fort Rotterdam after the Gowan King conceded this building to the Dutch.
at the Bonto Salluang Village, about 5 kilometers from Bantaeng or 15 minutes drive through a winding asphalt road. Feel the fresh, cool air and natural surroundings.
Clara Bundt Orchid Garden
Mr. Bundt, a Dutchman, has his private residence at No. 15 Jalan Mochtar Lutfi. His spacious garden is filled with rare Indonesian orchids and hybrids. He also has an enormous collection of seashells and coral. A visit is worthwhile and several of the collections are on sale. Mr. Bundt is registered in the Sander’s List of London as an expert in orchid cultivation.
Leang-Leang Pre-historical Paintings
An important archaeological site, these prehistoric caves houses strange traces of human palms and a wild pig, believed to be some 5,000 years old. The road leads from Maros through the cave-riddled limestone hills to the site, about half an hour’s drive from the airport.
is a place to anchor the phinisi, the famous traditional Buginese schooners. These highly seaworthy ships are famous for its ability to cross the Pacific Ocean all the way to the African coast.
Across the harbor of Makassar is Samalona Island, which has been developed into a pleasant recreational resort. It can be reached by the boat in 45 minutes and has simple accommodation. Recreational sports include diving, snorkeling, water skiing and fishing. Best months to visit are from February to October.
Tomb of Sultan Hasanuddin
Sultan Hasanuddin (1629 – 1690) was famous for his exceptional bravery in his struggle against colonial rule in South Sulawesi. His huge crypt and those of other kings of Gowa are located in a secluded cemetery not far from Sungguminasa, about 8 kilometers from Makassar. Just outside the walls of the cemetery, a small fenced-off plot contains the Tomanurung stone on which the kings of Gowa were crowned in pomp and splendor. Not far from the tombs is the oldest mosque in the area, built in 1603.
Formerly the seat of the kings of Gowa, Sungguminasa is an old wooden palace, 11 kilometers from Makassar. Now the Ballalompoa Museum, it showcases weapons and royal regalia, which includes a precious stone studded gold crown weighing 1,769 grams, available for viewing on special request.
The capital town of Wajo Regency is well-known as the center of the Bugis silk industry, 240 kilometers to the northeast of Makassar. A spinning mill in nearby Soppeng, produces the thread from silk worms. Weaving can be seen in many private homes along this route. The finest silks are hand loomed by village women, each of whom can produce two meters of silk a month. Visitors are welcome to stop and watch, or make a purchase, if any is readily available.
is a pleasant and fresh resort on the slopes of Mount Bawakaraeng, famous for its passion fruits, or locally known as ‘markisa’. Scattered pine woods grow at a height of 1,050 meters above sea level.
is the largest river in South Sulawesi which is famous for rafting adventure. Start from Tana Toraja and raft downstream for an exhilarating water adventure.
is a superb diving area that has an abundance of natural coral reefs and can be reached only hours from Makassar by boat.
134 kilometers from Makassar, has beautiful islands. Pannikiang Island is home to thousands of flamingoes, Puteangin Island has lovely coastal beaches and Bakki Island has a sloping coast of white sands.
The center of tourism in Tana Toraja is Rantepao, 328 kilometers northeast of Makassar. Sitting 700 meters above sea level, Rantepao has cool, pleasant evenings. The entry to Tana Toraja is marked by a gate built in traditional boat-shaped style. The road passes the spectacular mountains of Kandora and Gandang on which, according to Toraja mythology, the first ancestors of celestial beings descended from heaven. ‘Tongkonan’, a graceful architecture of the family houses, is built on stilts with the roof rearing up at either end, representing the prows of the first ship to arrive in the area with the Torajan ancestors. The houses all face north, the direction from where the ancestors of the Toraja were believed to have come. According to Torajan lore, their forefathers descended from heaven in a boat some twenty generations ago.
The Torajan people follow a unique Christian-animistic belief system. The majority of the people still adhere to an ancestral cult called ‘Aluk Todolo’,
which governs all traditional ceremonies. Ancestral worship includes elaborate death and afterlife ceremonies, which are essentially great feasts. A strict social hierarchy is followed in the villages, and for prominent members of the society, wedding and burial ceremonies can last for days. During such burial ceremonies, water buffaloes and pigs are sacrificed in large numbers according to social rank, and the deceased’s remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out on high rock cliffs. The mouth of the cave is guarded by lifelike effigies, called the Tau Tau, which look out from a balcony to watch over the surviving families and friends. Two villages with easily accessible cliff graves are Lemo and Londa. Londa has one of the oldest hanging gravesites, in which are buried many members of local nobility. Young village guides with kerosene lamps can be hired to enter the caves and see skeletons and old coffins. Palawa is an excellent village to visit the ‘Tongkonan’.
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Take a side trip from Rantepao to Ketekesu
a traditional village with excellent handicraft shops. Behind the village, on a hillside, is a cemetery with life size statues guarding over ancient coffins. As road are not always paved, it is necessary to use a jeep or go on foot, even when the weather is favorable. The best season to visit is between May and October.
is located about 1,300 meters above sea level. This is the site of 56 three-meter high prehistoric menhir stones. The beautiful view of Rantepao and its surrounding valley can be seen from here.
Sunsets in the Makassar Strait can be viewed from a promenade at Losari Beach, Jalan Penghibur, or the Paotere anchorage at the north end of the city where Bugis schooners are berthed. Across the harbor is Kayangan Island, which can be reached in 15 minutes by ferry. There is entertainment in the evenings and on Sundays.
can be reached about 41 kilometers from Makassar. A cascade of sparkling water gushes out between rocky cliffs into a stream shaded by tall trees. Brightly colored ornithoid butterflies indigenous to this area are considered among the most beautiful in the world. About 15 meters lower from Bantimurung Waterfall there is a natural Dreaming Cave with its beautiful forms of limestone formations.
Bira Beach in Bulukumba
is a beautifully pristine white sandy beach, some 178 kilometers south of Makassar. Traditional shipbuilding is still practiced in this area. This is also the jumping-off point for the island of Selayar.
Tanaberu in Bulukumba
is widely known as a place for traditional boat building. The picturesque sight of moored phinisi schooners in the dry docks is indeed magnificent.
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