A popular destination for the intrepid traveller, Toraja is an unspoilt region of traditional villages and culture, interesting burial sites and one of the best places to see the incredible Tongkonan bamboo houses with their magnificent oversized-roofs.
Located around 300-kilometres north of Makassar, Toraja is found in the northern part of South Sulawesi, a land where the Torajans practice a religion that combines Christianity with traditional cultural beliefs and rituals. The largest town in the area is Rantepao which nestles in a lush mountainous region of caves, lakes and waterfalls, but the star attraction here is the Torajan culture and boat-shaped Tongkonan houses. The traditional architecture of the area’s villages punctuates the skyline with rows of oversized thatched-roofs which look like swing boats. Built on stilts over rice paddies and chicken runs, each house has a carved wooden rice barn, called an alang and they are usually built facing north-south.
Funerals are one of the most important elements of village life, lasting days and involving traditional rituals and feasting, where buffalo are slaughtered and balok (palm sugar wine), flows freely. The whole region is covered in cliff and cave burial sites, where the entombed lie in a collection of colourful coffins in varying stages of decay, watched over by tau tau, life-sized wooden effigies of the dead.