Tana Toraja Sulawesi Travel Guide
Where Death is Something Sacred
Recently, Tana Toraja has been released as one of the must visit places in Indonesia after Bali. Together with other newest tourist destination such as Raja Ampat, Bunaken, Lombok, and etc, Tana Toraja is published to the world with uniqueness second to none. The portrait of Indonesia natural beauty can be seen here. And other than that, if you visit Tana Toraja, you will know the tradition, custom, art, and the most popular in here is the ritual to the ancestors and the graveyard. Yes, graveyard in Tana Toraja is quite a lot, and you will only see some of them in this land. Well, if you are interested in visiting Tana Toraja, let’s take a look at the all information about it.
- Sulawesi Island, formerly known as Celebes Island
- Makassar Toraja Tour 5 Days 4 Nights
- Toraja Tour Trekking Kandora 5 Days 4 Nights
- Toraja Tour 3 Days 2 Nights
- Tana Toraja 4 Day 3 Night Tour Package
Tana Toraja Culture
Tana Toraja or in English have meaning Land of The Heavenly Kings, is the only one place famous for its burial rites in Indonesia. The rites and the graveyard are so many and they are spectacular to be seen. After a person dead, the body is kept even for several years. They also held funeral ceremony that can be lasted into a week. During the ceremony ritual dances, buffalo fight, and buffalo and pig slaughter done. To bury the death, the how is much more unique. They are buried in a small cave accompany with tau-tau statue, inside a hollow tree, or some even left exposed to the elements in a bamboo frame hanging from a cliff.
Beside for the burial ritual and graveyard, Tana Toraja also has attraction that is Tongkonan, a Torajan traditional house. The house has a roof like a horse saddle or buffalo horn. The walls stand traditional geometric and abstract patterns and natural realms. Tongkonan is the centre of Aluktodolo rites (part of the ancestors religion) functioned as store for the harvest in the carved rice barns, and place to hold buffalo slaughter.
Believe in Tana Toraja
People in Tana Toraja holds Christian at majority, and some of them are Muslim, Hindu, and many more. But at the same time they keep believe and tradition of their ancestors, especially in the believe of eternal cycle of life and death on earth. So though they believe in one God, many rituals from the ancestors, on the death especially, easily found and held in Tana Toraja. That’s why this is the land where death is something sacred. They are very unique in a way the combine their religious belief with mysticism and magic. It is one that makes visitors curious about Tana Toraja.
Torajan, the tribe, also consider the Toraja nobility as the descendant of god that come into earth through the heaven stairs to live in this beautiful world. Rituals are held to celebrate those who have died and still live in this world. Some of the ritual is held in planting season. To see the traditional custom and believe of the Torajan, you can visit Rantepao city that become one of the Torajan culture center.
Rambu Solo’ (The Unique Death Ceremony)
Come to Tana Toraja in June, July, or December. You will get the chance to see Rambu Solo’ Death Ceremony. This is a ceremony from Tana Toraja to honor the spirit which lasts for one to seven nights at maximum. During that time dozens of buffalo slaughtered. Buffalo for Torajan is an animal that can be sacrificed for a death ceremony, which can be a means of transportation for deceased spirits to head to Puya (heaven).
Tana Toraja Attractions to Visit
Lemo is graves on rock cliffs. In this graveyard tau-tau exist. Tau-tau is little wooden statue with form of a human. The function of tau-tau is to be a place of the spirit. At the appointed times, the cloth in tau-tau will be changed through the Ma’nene ceremony.
Londa is the most famous graveyard in Tana Toraja. This site is located 7 km south of Rantepao city. To reach Londa you need to go down several stairs. From far after you arrive on the site you will meet steep cliffs overgrown with green trees. Several coffins were tucked in the cracks of this cliff wall. Also make natural caves that become graves. For nobles or important people of Toraja is buried in a coffin (erong). The crates will be supported by wood safe on the cliff. The higher the position of the crate on the cliff, the higher the degree of the corpse during his life. Be careful, in the cave of Londa you may see bone or skull on the ground, so don’t take them, don’t move them, or even step into it.
One of the oldest graveyard sites is Tampang Allo. The cave of Tampang Allo kept the oldest chest and skulls of Toraja nobility. Tau-tau is also found here. Two skulls of a lover were also buried here. According to the story they were lovers whose parents did not approve of, so they decided to take suicide, just like the story Romeo and Juliet.
If you come to Suaya, you can see the tomb of the king of Toraja family and the baby tree grave. Babies who die here are buried in the tree so that the tree grows around the chest.
Tana Toraja Things to Do
Ke’te Kesu Village
Ke’te Kesu is the most visited village for you who want to get acquainted with indigenous Torajans. Toraja traditional house called Tongkonan is also here. Tongkonan has strata according to nobility such as gold, bronze, iron, and brass. The walls are limited with abstract and geometric patterns with natural colors of black, white, and red. The village is also famous for bamboo craft and other traditional crafts.
This is also a grave but with megalithic stones which were stood upright. The stones are to celebrate the good action by dead nobles which were buried here. There is also the baby trees in this site.
It is the biggest graveyard in the boulder. Dozens of tombs carved in the rock, with some small Tongkonan near the graveyard.
Nowadays, Tana Toraja natural panorama has increasingly attracted tourist interest. In Batutumonga, for example, we can see breathtaking panorama of the rice terrace and greenery.
Pallawa is similar to Kete Kesu, where the village has some of the best and well-preserved Tongkonan houses. This one is underrated though some say it has better condition Tongkonan house. You can expect calmness while exploring the site here, because usually the site is not crowded day to day.
Tourist can get to know crafts and most important Toraja weaving. One of the most famous Torajan culture is the weaving. So many patterns, so rich in philosophy. Tourist can bought some of the best fabrics with interesting motives.
Best Time to Visit Tana Toraja Sulawesi
Anytime is actually the best time to visit the place. But if you want to avoid rain during your tour, then it is advisable to come between June to October. Also, consider if you want to see Toraja funerals and Ma’Nene ceremonies, then you should come in between July to September. But especially August.
Some Tips to Remember:
- Tana Toraja is cooler than any area in Sulawesi, 23 degree of Celcius in usual day. Tourist can wear comfortable clothes, not so thick yet not so thin.
- Always remember to behave yourself in the places you visit, especially at funerals. Because human skulls and bones can be anywhere. So watch your step.
- Torajan people are eco-friendly. Things related to home needs are usually made from natural materials, such as dishes, home decorations, etc. Always respect their culture.
- Always brings your cash in Tana Toraja Sulawesi.
- You don’t need to bother about facility in the hotels since the development is quite fast, there will be wifi and so on.
How to Get to Tana Toraja Sulawesi?
- By Air
The best way is to go by air. Though it is not the cheapest recommendation but it is practice and saving time. You can go to Tana Toraja by transit first into Makassar, and then directly flying to Tana Toraja Airport. It takes one hour. From Tana Toraja Airport you can hire taxi to go to the center of Tana Toraja. The driving also spend 1 hour with the cost up to 250k IDR.
- By Bus
You need to fly first to Makassar if you want to go by bus. Then take bus ticket in Makassar terminal. The journey takes 9 – 10 hours from Makassar to Rantepao (center of Tana Toraja). It is not advisable except for them who want to go to Tana Toraja with budget.
- Renting Car or Taking Tana Toraja Tour Package
The best we can recommend is by renting car and taking Tana Toraja Tours Packages. In Pamitran Tours, you don’t need to plan everything one by one. We understand simplicity and good prices is all that you need. If you take our tour, the price has included the accommodation, transportation, entrance fees, other acilities, and more.