Tana Toraja (Toraja Land), which lies in the north of the province is known for its unique culture and ancient traditions. The center of tourism is Rantepao, 328 km from Ujung Pandang by road. There are several small bungalow hotels at Rantepao, and Makale, the district capital.
Traditional Ceremony at Tana TorajaThe entry to Tana Toraja is marked by a gate built in traditional boat-shaped architecture. The road passes through the mountains of Kandora and Gandang on which, according to Toraja mythology, the first ancestors of celestial beings descended from heaven. The majority of the people still follows an ancestral cult called “Aluk Todolo” which governs all traditional ceremonies. From Rantepao, side trips can be made to Kete, a traditional village where there are handicraft and unique shops. Behind the village there is a grave site on a hillside. Life-size statues guard over old coffins. As roads are not always paved, it is necessary to use a jeep or walk if the weather is good (between May and October).
Two cliff graves easy to reach are Lemo and Londa. Londa is one of the oldest hanging graves belonging to the nobility. A large balcony is filled with effigies of the dead. Kerosene lamps with young village guides, can be hired to enter the caves to see skeletons and old coffins. At Lemo, burial chambers are cut out of the rock and several balconies filled with effigies look out while new caves are being dug to serve as family graves.
There are several grave sites and traditional villages of which Palawa is a classic example of a village on a small hill with “Tongkonan” or a burial place with celebrations and festivals. Visitors are welcome but they are expected to adhere to local customs of dress, seating and bringing a token present.