Tana Toraja

Indonesia has been known all over the world for its fascinating landscapes of slopes, mountains, highlands which entangled with rich culture. Each of the 5 major islands as well as small islands surrounding it has its own uniqueness and provides a different experience. Various landscapes as well as different traditions and rituals coloring the region in each island. Exotic places are dotting this archipelagic country and each tradition is very different from the others. 

Exploring the Exotic Tana Toraja

One of many exotic places in Indonesia that have been popular for its magnificent landscape and its endearing traditions is Tana Toraja. Tana Toraja or literally means Land of Toraja is a regency of South Sulawesi where Toraja ethnic group lives. It is divided into 2 regions, Tana Toraja with the capital of Makale and Toraja Utara in Rantepao. Tana Toraja is located on the central of highlands and is being surrounded by mountains and cliffs, making it “protected” from the outside world and still preserve its ancient belief.

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Toraja people believe that they are descendants from the omnipotent being and came down to earth to this beautiful land called Tana Toraja. Thus, in order to preserve the spirit Toraja people hold rituals for the living as well as for the deaths, resulting in a very otherworldly ritual. For those who aren’t really into cultural ceremony can still enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding area. Here we have the best things to do while you’re staying in Tana Toraja.

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1. Visiting Lemo, house for the dead (Toraja burial ceremony)

hous of dead tana toraja
Tampangallo (Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia), traditional burial site where coffins are placed in caves or hanging from the cliff, guarded by balconies of dressed wooden statues, images of the dead persons (called tau tau in local language).

Among many rituals in Tana Toraja, perhaps the most fascinating about its ancient tradition is the rituals for the death. When visiting Tana Toraja, you just can’t miss seeing Lemo, a tomb carved in rock hills. Each tomb is carved for a family where it takes 6 months to 1 year to carve it. Bodies are being buried here where Toraja people believe that Lemo is the home of the spirits. If you’re “lucky enough”, you may witness the mind-blowing tradition of funeral called Aluk Todolo. According to their ritual, when a person is deceased, they will keep their body in Tongkonan until the family collect enough money to hold the ceremony that lasts for 10 days then buried the dead inside the tomb. 

2. Marvel at the traditional village of Ke’te Kesu

tana toraja traditional village
Tongkonan traditional rice barns in Kete Kesu village. Tana Toraja, Sulawesi. Indonesia

Ke’te Kesu is one of many popular traditional Toraja villages and has been preserved for 300 years. The village is home to 6 Tongkonan, traditional Toraja houses with a saddleback roof where the rice is being stored. The house is decorated beautifully with geometric patterns and colorful style. As one of the most authentic Toraja house, Ke’te Kesu is even classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

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3. Throwback to the old-time spinning process in Sa’dan Village

As you visit Tana Toraja, don’t forget to bring some souvenirs to bring home, and perhaps the most suitable souvenir would be the woven fabric made in Sa’dan Village. Sa’dan Village preserves its traditional spinning process where they can teach you how to spin cotton into a yarn and then wove into beautiful fabrics. The trend of traditional spinning process is getting rare, therefore, every support from the tourist by buying and promoting its product will certainly help to preserve the tradition. 

tana toraja spinning process
Photo by Zuzana Kacerová on Unsplash

4. Gazing at the breathtaking view of Batutumonga

The panoramic view of Tana Toraja might be best reflected with Batutumonga, a land above the cloud located on the foot of Gunung Sesean (Sesean Mountain). The land earned this name as people can experience cloud covering the hills and greenery. Its height provides the perfect spot to see the sunrise as well as the sunset on the beautiful land of Tana Toraja. 

batutumonga tana toraja
Photo by Rio Lecatompessy on Unsplash

5. Engage with Toraja people at Balu and Makale Markets

Bolu and Makale markets are the 2 largest markets in Tana Toraja. The market is run by various ethnic groups and has become interesting attractions for tourists. Bolu market only opens once in 6 days and sell various products such as vegetables, fruits, famous Toraja coffee as well as buffalo and pig as the main sales. Historically, these markets have been running since the 17th century to trade slaves, unfortunately, and during the 19th century, the commodities are mainly coffee and firearms. 

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Yearning to engage to some exotic rituals and traditions in Tana Toraja already? Don’t hesitate to bring your loved ones or explore Tana Toraja by yourself. Book your next flight ticket here and choose one of our best accommodations. You may also want to rent a car to ease your mobilization and get yourself the best experience!

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