Tana Toraja or Toraja is one of the beautiful region at South Sulawesi, let alone in Indonesia. From the distance, one can see the jagget ridges of the hill stretching side by side along the slop of the mountains. Moreover, one can be also find beautiful valleys in which bamboo and sugar palms are growing and the traditional houses with curved roof among the paddy field, beautiful and naturally carved and colored by the skill full people of Toraja.
Before the Dutch came to power in this highland in the 20th century, there was not a single word given for the name of their religion except for the word "Aluk" means "the way" which refers to rituals and daily life activities that are to be controlled; like how to build a house, to cook rice, to greet children and the head of the village, and the number of buffaloes and pigs that must be slaughtered in every ritual ceremony. The most prestigious ceremony in Tana Toraja is the Death Ceremony.
More than half of the people of Toraja are Christians, but they are proud of their Cultural heritage and uphold it. This can be seen when they welcome the guests ritually.
The Torajan people had little notion of themselves as a distinct ethnic group before the 20th century. Before Dutch colonization and Christianization, Torajans, who lived in highland areas, identified with their villages and did not share a broad sense of identity. Although complexes of rituals created linkages between highland villages, there were variations in dialects, differences in social hierarchies, and an array of ritual practices in the Sulawesi highland region. "Toraja" (from the coastal languages' to, meaning people; and riaja, uplands) was first used as a lowlander expression for highlanders.
As a result, "Toraja" initially had more currency with outsiders such as the Buginese and Makassarese, who constitute a majority of the lowland of Sulawesi than with insiders. The Dutch missionaries' presence in the highlands gave rise to the Toraja ethnic consciousness in the Sa'dan Toraja region, and this shared identity grew with the rise of tourism in the Tana Toraja Regency. Since then, South Sulawesi has four main ethnic groups the Buginese (the majority, including shipbuilders and seafarers), the Makassarese (lowland traders and seafarers), the Mandarese (traders and fishermen), and the Toraja (highland rice cultivators).
Tana Toraja tourism travel guide and tourist attractions popular destinations can be enumerated as follow :
Sangalla is a village lying among the leafy bamboo trees at the foot of the hill. Here you can find an interesting tourism object, that is a special cemetery og young babies. Moreover the cemetery of King Sangalla, widely know as Suaya, can be found at one of the slopes of the hills in this village.
These graves are carved on the hill sides. They are resting place of the seven kings of Sangalla Kingdoms and their families. "Tau-tau" (effigies) of the King and their families are placed in front of the stone graves. They are dressed traditionally in accordance with the dress of king of Toraja. Not far away from this place, you can find a "Tongkonan House" that was built by the king of Sangalla which today is know as "Museum Buntu Kalando". Though themodel of this museum is quite new, you can find several properties of past kingdom and some house equipment which formerly were the belongings of King Sangalla (Puang Sangalla).
Suaya (King Suaya Graveyard).
The graveyard lies on one of the hillsides. It is carved as the resting place of the kings and king's family; in conform to the Toraja King dresses, placed in front of stone grave. There are some stone steps to reach the hill, where the kings had their contemplation during their life. A museum will be built in this place to keep the property of King Sangalla.
In Lemo graveyard you can see the several "Tau-tau" together adjoining the steep rocky museum on the open air, a combinations between death, arts and ritual. "Tau-tau" is a small wooden statue which sometimes is made of bamboo tree. The clothings are altered periodically in a ceremony called Manene. This statue is considered as a home of the spirit of the death person.
Londa is teep rocky side grave. One of its side is located on a higher place from the hill with deep caves where coffins are arranged and grouped based on the family lines. On the other side of the hill, on the balcony, dozens of "Tau-tau" stand up high, as if they were alive, eyes open, looking over the green landscape.
Kete'kesu is a village which is still traditional in character. If you take a look from the front side, you will find it lying in the middle of the wide paddy fields, it beautiful sequences of curved roofs and carved barn walls. This village consists of four traditional Tongkonan House of Toraja, rice barns, and megalith stones set among the rice fields. Inside one of the Tongkonans, some kind of a small museum is located in the middle of the ground floor. Most of the people of this village have a good mastery in carving and painting. This can be seen among them who are doing carving and painting. Ke'te' kesu is located about 4 km to the southeast of Rantepao in the district of kesu'. There is also a aristocratic burial site on cliffs with hanging graves and effigies (tau-tau) located about a hundred meters at the rear of this village.
By tracing to the north along the Sa'dan River, you will come to an area named Pallawa. In this place, "Tau-tau" and Tongkonan House welcome the tourists coming to the place. Tongkonan Pallawa is one of the interesting Tongkonans, which is located among the leafy bamboo tree on top of the hill. It is decorated with a number of Buffalo's horns attached to the front of their traditional house.
The cold Batutumonga is located in Sesean area. It has an altitude of about 1300 m. In this area you can find about 56 Menhir stones in one circle with five trees in the middle. Most of the Menhir stones are of 2 - 3 m high. The most beautiful view of Rantepao and its surrounding valley can be seen from this spot. The beauty of the landscape make this area very interesting to visit.
Located 27 km from Rantepao at the district of South Sangalla. There is a hot spring water resources in this place and you can also find a house for taking s rest. It's nice to have a bath in this warm water after a long trip.
Nanggala is a group of special Toraja settlement with large Tongkonan. This settlement exciting is unique because it is occupied by a group of bats. The visitor can see them in the afternoon. What make this settlement exciting is the number of bats that created a crowd. By sitting in front of the Tongkonan, the visitor can see them hanging on the bamboo and other trees.
Marante is a village where a lot of Tongkonan House, big paddy barns and big rocky hill containing hanging stone graves which the located called "Erong" can be found.
Tumakke is a small village at the district of Rembon, about 10 km to the west of Makale. On this village you can see a distinguished traditional house. The house has roofs made of stones, called "papa batu".
Located is about 19 km to the south of Rantepao in the district of Sangalla. It can be reached even by walking from Sangalla. There are a lot of baby graves in the living trees. Some of the graves are hundred years old.
It is 6 km from Rantepao a road to Sa'dang and Pallawa. The most interesting object in Bori is the tall 'rante', menhir stones, soared up several meters above the land.
Karassik refers to bamboo houses painted in various colors stand in a row in the side of ritual ceremony place, rante and some menhir stones.
Lokomata is about 35 km from Rantepao at the district of Sesean Suloara, and has a very beautiful scenery of 4 big stones levels on the side of the road having 60 stones mountain sides graves with beautiful terraced nice field, mountains and valleys underneath. There is no effigies (Tau-tau) but there are lots of funeral remains.
Siguntu is a Toraja traditional wooden house and rise barn, the Tongkonan has been inherited for six generations. Kinship of Tongkonan owner was noble in the Toraja. Located on a hills area with spectacular natural scenery with beautiful views over the valley.
Some people believe that To'barana Sa'dan is the center of Toraja area. At certain parts of these villages there are four rice-barns that are very well kept with a neat grass yard. Very interesting Toraja weavings are displayed and sold in this village. Around the village, terraces of rice fields are also beautiful to look at.
Bolu Traditional Market.
Bolu is a unique Toraja's traditional public market. It is located about 1 km from the center of Rantepao town. Every six days, on the big market day, many buffalos and pigs are available for sale to those who need especially for funeral or thanksgiving ceremonies.
Toraja Funeral Ceremony.
Torajanese was have unique traditional ceremony thats its interesting to be seen called Rambu Solo. Rambu Solo is customary ritual death in Tana Toraja society that aims to respect the spirit and the people who deliver death to the spirit, which is returned to the immortality with their ancestors in a health resort, called Puyo, which is located in the south where people live. The ceremony is often also called the completion ceremony of death
Sa’dan River is a river which split Tana Toraja, with about 294 small rivers along its flow. Sa’dan River is the longest river in south Sulawesi province. This river spread out for 182 km long from high hilly land in Latimojong, and headed to Pinrang Regency. The average width of this river is 80 m, and it has quite strong stream and many huge rocks which spread along its flow.
The river flow has quite strong stream is called ‘cascade’. In Sa’dan River, there are many big cascades which categorized into grade III, IV, and V. It means, if you want to do rafting on this river, you have to own rafting experience at least till grade II.