“Safe and Lucky that I was born in the land of Tana Toraja, island of Sulawesi” – These are the words that signify the spirit of the people and the land of Tana Toraja. Nestled among the lush green mountains of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, the culture and natural beauty of Tana Toraja is something that almost every Indonesian is proud of. The island of Sulawesi itself is not that popular among tourists, mostly because there are hardly any places where you would find the cliched and pretentious booze-fueled parties. This is probably one of the reasons why the simplistic charm of its stunning landscapes have been untouched and the cultures remain upheld. When me and my friend Polly decided to take a weekend off from our volunteering duties in Palopo city and head off to Tana Toraja, we were obviously quite excited. After being asked the same question “Did you go to Tana Toraja” countless times by our Indonesian friends, we were looking forward to heading there, experience the place for ourselves and be among the Torajan people.
About Toraja People and Culture
The Toraja are an ethnic group of people indigenous to the region of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. These are the people whose virtues of tenacity and deep familial bonding you will hear about when you are in Sulawesi. As an indigenous group, their culture, traditions and especially their views on life and death is an intriguing affair for curious outsiders like me. The Toraja people work with immense dedication all their life to accumulate generous amounts of wealth although not for their personal comfort but to facilitate for an elaborate funeral ceremony for their deceased ancestors and family members. The views and approach of Torajans towards death is where things make a shift towards an alternate reality. A major part of the cultural beliefs of Torajans is centered around death. “Death is not the end for us”, says Silas, one of my friends from Tana Toraja. For the Toraja people, death is just another stage a human has to go through during his/her journey.
Veering Across the Highlands in Tana Toraja
With very little information on the internet about this place, it does get a bit challenging to make a proper plan about the attractions and activities here. Our many Indonesian friends from Palopo city provided us all the inputs we needed. The constant phrase we heard was “It is very beautiful there” but little did we know that it would be actually a case of “You need to see it to believe it”. As we were riding our scooters through the villages, countryside and across the mountains, we were in awe of the stunning sceneries and felt really thankful that the natural beauty of Sulawesi has remained pure to a large extent. Although we could manage to explore just four places in the two days, each of these places were beautiful in their own ways.