Information about Toraja, South Sulawesi, places to visit, things to do, watch the Burial Ceremony

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About South Sulawesi

South Sulawesi or known as Celebes island is one of Indonesian province located centrally between Borneo and Spice island of Maluku. Local tribe know as Bugis and Makassarese are a wellknown as seafarers with their tall-masted Phinisi schooners brought fear ply the seas, trading between the islands. Up to now, the vessels are still built since centuries - without any nails and with wooden hulls.


Toraja or Tana Toraja is the highland situated in on the northernside of South Sulawesi. It is quite wellknow place for its unique culture and ancient traditions. The center of tourism is Rantepao, 328 km from Makassar by road (about 8 hours). The entry to Tana Toraja is marked by a gate built in traditional boat-shaped architecture. This unique culture, the scenic beauty, cool climate and gentle people are the main reason that Toraja is gaining popularity as a tourist destination.

Places of Interest

A small town, 146 km from Makassar to visit Bugis and Makassarese villages to see houses on stilts, boat-building and repair. Outside Bulukumba are scenic beaches not far from here the visitors can cross to the island of Selayar..

Bira Beach
Bira is 197 km from Makassar, it has wonderful beach with blinding white sand, crystal clear water, and good snorkeling and diving.

Fort Rotterdam (Benteng Ujung Pandang) - facing the sea front as the Landmark of Ujung Pandang built in 1545 during the reign of Tuni Pallanga, the 10 Sultan of Gowa.

Tomb of Sultan Hasanuddin - Sultan Hasanuddin (1629-1690) was famous for his exceptional bravery in his straggled against Colonial encroachment in South Sulawesi. His tomb and those of other king of Gowa are located in a secluded cemetry not far from.

Bantimurung - located to the noth of Ujung Pandang, Bantimurung about 41 km from Ujung Pandang. Here the air is filled with butterflies which fly from shrub to shrub over the water. These rare brightly colored ornithoid butterflies are considered the most beautiful in the world.

Goa Leang-Leang is now declared an archeological site, these prehistoric caves have strange rock carving of hands and a wild pigs, believe to be 5000 years old.

Pare-Pare is the best place for stop and having lunch when doing the journey from Ujung pandang to Toraja land or reverse.

Sengkang is the capital town of Wajo regency is well known for its silk weaving and the center of Buginese silk. Here we can enjoy the view of Tempe Lake is one of the tourist resort at Sengkang.

Soppeng is located 240 km to the northeast of Ujung pandang well known for its silk industry.


Most Tana Torajans are Chirstian while still retaining their traditional norms and customs. If someone dies, his or her body will be kept inside the house for days, sometimes weeks or even months. The body is well treated and preserved by using cetain herbs. The purpose of keeping the body are to give a chance to the family of the deceased to gather and collect money. Once the fund is enough to hold a necessary ceremony, the ritual begins.

From the Torajan's point of view, however, life starts from and ends in heaven. Thus, there are two most important events in human life-birth and death. In this case, to properly reach heaven means to have proper burial, which in turn means to provide as many buffalos and pigs as possible.

On the burial ceremony, they leave the corpse inside a cave. Many visitor would surprise of not smelling any strong odor that usually comes with a corpse. Oral history says taht in the old days, the deceased would be "ordered" by a shaman to walk by him or herself to the cave. It was a zoombie-like procession. Unfortunately no one can witness this kind of ritual today.

The most spectacular of Torajan rituals are the funerals. For Torajan, a funeral is the single most important ceremony in the life cycle. It is based on a strong belief that the soul of the deceased travels to the land of the south and in this land of eternity, he will need all the requisites of everyday life in the hereafter just like when he was alive in this world. Funeral ceremonies are festival lasting as long as ten days with much feasting and entertainment. Animal sacrifices are made to ensure eternal life in the afterlife and to safeguard the descendants.