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.
Places of Interest
Tongkonan House Tana Toraja
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’.
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.
Tana Toa Village
While in Banten we find Badui tribe, South Sulawesi has Kajang tribe who live in Tanna Toa Village, Bulukumba Regency. From Makassar, we need to make a journey of 250 kilometers to the south. Tanna Toa Village is led by a leader called Ammatoa.
The community of Kajang tribe inhabiting this Tanna Toa area communicates with Konjo language. They hold strongly on and maintain their custom and tradition. They are known as the ancestors of the sultans in South Sulawesi. To get into the village area, tourists have to go through a gate wearing traditional costume of Kajang or wearing black outfit. After that, the journey continues by walking as far as 800 meters heading for the core area where the Kajang community resides.
This area is obviously so reclusive and it is called “Kajang Dalam” where the local community considers all modern-related things are a taboo. So, it just normal if tourists cannot find any electric pole or anything at all that shows a progress. Being among the Kajang people in their village, tourists have to respect their tight rule.
In village of Kajang, tourists can enjoy the tasty bedi leaves – its shape is like papaya leaf but with darker green color. This leaf is used to wrap a variety of fish before they are grilled on top of charcoal fuel. The flavor is even better when smeared with red chili sauce. This leaf is believed as a medicine for those who suffer from internal diseases.
Batu Lemo Tana Toraja - Kajang Tribe and Rambu Solo Ceremony
Rambu Solo and Batu Lemo Tana Toraja
Tana Toraja has two popular customary ceremonies: Rambu Solo which is a burial ceremony. The people of Toraja believe that without such ceremony the spirit of the dead will bring doom to those left behind.
For the Toraja people, a dead person is considered as sick person, and that is the reason why the person still needs to be taken care of and treated as if the person is still alive by providing meals, drinks, cigarettes, betel nut or a variety of offerings.
The burial tradition of Rambu Solok is a range of activities of complex traditional customs and they are certainly costly and it takes months to prepare it. While waiting for the ceremony to be ready, the corpse is wrapped in a piece of fabric and kept in tongkonan or home to the ancestors. The peak of this Rambu Solo ceremony is in the month of July and August. At such occasions the Torajans living in many places across Indonesia will return to their village to take part in the series of ceremonies.
When it comes to a death of an aristocrat, they will have as many as 24 up to 100 oxen as their sacrifices. One of them could even be a spotted ox that is widely known for its high price. This ceremony is one of the attractions which is typical Tana Toraja and they do it by chopping the ox’s neck with a single chopping movement with knife and then the ox immediately falls down with blood all over the beast.
Other than Rambu Solo, the Batu Lemo graveyard is an exceptional tourist attraction in Tana Toraja. Here tourists can closely observe the corpses kept in the steep rocky hills. There are tens of unique rocky walls lined up complete with statues wearing cloths just like a living people. This graveyard complex combines the aspects of death, arts and rituals. The cloths of the corpses will be changed every now and then and it should be done with Ma Nene ritual.
The Kingdom Butterfly and Waterfall in Bantimurung
Bantimurung National Park and Waterfall
Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park has a range of natural tourism objects which are breathtaking for the tourists. This national park boasts diverse unique things: karst, caves with beautiful stalagmite and the most popular one is the butterflies which are found here. Many diverse types of butterflies have made this park known as an area called “The Kingdom of Butterfly”.
Bantimurung National Park is located in Maros Regency, South Sulawesi. To get there, tourists can drive a car. It takes about an hour drive (40 km) from Makassar.
Bantimurung Waterfall 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.
The Traditional Pinisi Ship
Tanaberu the Making of Pinisi
The Bugis and Makassar ethnic groups are widely known as tough sailors, but where they get a good ship? Bulukumba, particularly in Tane Beru, is a dockyard of the making of traditional Pinisi ship.
Along the village road, we can easily find places where villagers build a Pinisi ship which has been there for many generations. While modern ship starts with its structure and then the stern wall, it is a different process for Pinisi. When it comes to build this traditional ship, they will start with the stern first and then continue to the structure.
The materials to build this kind of ship are taken from welengreng tree or the tree of gods which are widely known as a strong and not easily crumbled. But, before cutting the tree, they should have a special ceremony so that the spirits living on it will move to another tree.
To be able to experience the process of the making of Pinisi, tourists are not recommended to come anytime they like because this is not a process of daily basis. If they are quite lucky, they would be able to catch the onset of the making of a Pinisi boat. By doing so, they would be able to witness a customary ritual of the local people. The center of this Pinisi boat industry is about 150 kilometers to the southeast of the city of Makassar.
Fort Rotterdam Makassar
Fort Rotterdam, 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.
Bissapu Waterfall 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.
Paotere Harbor, 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.
Malino 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.
Sa’adang River 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.
Kapoposan Island is a superb diving area that has an abundance of natural coral reefs and can be reached only hours from Makassar by boat.
Barru Regency, 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.
Batumonga 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.
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.
Losari Beach - Bira Beach - Taka Bonerate and Makassar Museum
Taka Bonerate National Park
Taka Bonerate National Park has the third biggest atoll coral in the world following Kwajifein in Marshall Island and Suvadiva in Moldiva archipelago. The atoll coral is 220,000 hectare area with 500 km2 area of coral reef.
This region has unique and interesting topography where the atoll consists of groups of coral islands and wide coral reefs form many islands. Between these islands, there are deep, steep, and shallow straits. At the surface of a coral plate, there are a lot of small deep ponds surrounded by coral reefs. At the lowest tide, dry land or small ponds appear alternately.
Located in the outskirts of Sorowako, Lake Matano is one of the deepest lakes in the world. This lake area is 8,218.21 hectares wide and 550 meters deep. The beaches around the lake, such as Ide Beach, Kupu-Kupu Beach, and Salonsa Beach, are used as recreation area.
It has exotic panorama, its outskirts landscape is neatly structured with plenty of big trees. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature and breathe fresh air in this area. This tourist destination is equipped with kayak, banana boat, jet ski, boat for sports enthusiasts, besides restaurant, bungalow, gazebo, and play ground so all family members can have fun in here.
Batu Pake’ Gojeng Prehistoric Park
It is located in Biringere Sub district, North Sinjai District, 2 km from the center of Sinjai. Batu Pake means carved stone, and Gojeng is the location where this stone was found. A stone grave is located beneath this carved stone. For the locals this place is a location of stone grave. When rescue excavation was done here in 1982, archeologists found various types of culturally preserved artifacts such as ceramics from Ming Dynasty, wooden fossils and coffin.
Sanrobone Fort, located in Sanrabone Village, Takalar Regency, was built by Dampang Panca Belong (The First King of Sanrabone Kingdom), with the support of Sanrabone people, under the instruction of King of Bone in sixteenth century.
The fort has 7 doors consisting of 4 big doors facing north, east, south and west; and 3 small doors. A 150 kg canon, family dagger (keris), and King of Bone cemetery are the interesting historical evident which are displayed here. Those artifacts depicts the history of Sanrobone Kingdom.
Mulberry plants (Morus alba) are the basic element of silk thread. Mulberry plantation is located in Sabbangparu District, around 10 km from Sengkang. Tourists could have fi rsthand experience watching the process of planting mulberry, breeding silkworm, twisting silkworm thread, and weaving silk cloth.
Makassar City Museum
Makassar City Museum is two-storey building with 17th century European architecture. It has 560 historical collections, records of Makassar City from time to time. A 300 years-cannon is displayed in the front yard. This old cannon was used during Makassar war at 17th century. As you enter the building, you could feel an atmosphere back from Dutch colonial era. Those thick walls, big wooden windows and hanging ornaments are well preserved.
Lagaligo Museum is located in Fort of Rotterdam Complex that is of classic architecture. La Galigo name was the name of South Sulawesi great literary man who was also the ancestors of South Sulawesi Kings. The building was transformed into museum in 1938—known as Celebes Museum—by Dutch Indie Government in Makassar City. It was previously a house owned by Admiral C. Speelman. In 1988, this museum name was changed into La Galigo South Sulawesi Province Museum. The collections are 499 items consist of prehistoric artifacts, numismatic, foreign ceramics, South Sulawesi ethnographic artifacts and manuscripts.
Batara Guru Museum “Istana Datu Luwu”
Batara Guru Museum was offi cially opened on July 26, 1971 by Andi Achmad, Luwu Regent. He was the heir of Luwu King. The objective of this museum is to preserve Luwu Kingdom cultural inheritance to pass down to next generation. This museum building was built in 1920 and was used as King of Luwu’s palace. It contains prehistoric collections, ceramics, ethnographic artifacts, manuscripts photos, etc.
Buntu Kalando Sanggala
This museum is located in Tana Toraja Regency. The name of Buntu Kalando related to Toraja’s history. Buntu Kalando means rock hill, a kind of place where King of Toraja chose to live. Buntu Kalando is the location of Raja Sanggala Tana Toraja Palace. This museum was established based on several Toraja’s community leaders proposal to preserved Toraja’s cultural heritage. This museum also functioned as center of customary community services. This museum houses 701 items consisting of geographic collections, ceramics, archeological artifacts, Toraja fine arts and many other.
Seafood lovers will be fond of Makassar cuisine. This city is popular with various kinds of seafood, whether it is grilled, roasted or fried. Roasted fish in Makassar is recognized as one of the best. Fish, calamari, shrimp, or crab is roasted on burning charcoal, resulting in a unique taste of seafood. Roasted fish is eaten with peanut sauce, slices of cucumber, green tomato, mango, and green pepper.