South Sulawesi, that constitutes the narrow south-western peninsula of the island, is geographically and culturally diverse. South Sulawesi posses fertile rice fields, lofty mountains, dry southern region, and long shoreline dotted with fishing villages. The highlight is, except striking landscapes, remarkable people, this part of the island is home to four major ethnic groups and several minor ones. The costal and lowland regions of South Sulawesi are occupied mainly by pound and frank Bugis. The Bugis have always been great seafarers and shipbuilders. Other groups, as Makassarese and Mandarese are closely related to the Bugis. In the northern part of peninsula is a region inhabited by people collectively known as Toraja. The best known of these peoples, the Sa'dan Toraja, get their name from the great river the courses through the mountains. A believe that their forefathers descended from heaven on a boat onto mountain some twenty generations ago, the Toraja have unique culture based on strong animistic beliefs. They practice an ancestor cult where death and afterlife ceremonies are great feasts. A strict hierarchy is followed in the villages and for an important figure, wedding and burial ceremonies, can take days to perform buffalo are sacrificed, the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out in high cliffs. The mouth of the cave is guarded by lifelike statues, who diligently look out from a balcony at the families and friends they have left. Tongkonan, family houses, are 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's ancestors. The houses all face north and some say that this because it was from the north that the ancestors of the Toraja came. Others, however will say that the north (and east) are regarded as the realm of the gods, the compass of life.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Makassar is the largest city, communication and business centre in eastern Indonesia. The capital city of South Sulawesi played a significant role as the entry to the former kingdom of Gowa and now to the whole province because of its harbour. The city expanded outwards from its most important landmark, that of Benteng Ujung Pandang which faces the sea front. One of the eleven fortresses of the kingdom, it was built in 1545 during the reign of Tuni Pallanga, the 10th sultan of Gowa. When Gowa capitulated to the colonial forces under the treaty of Bungaya in 1667, the fort was renamed Rotterdam by Admiral Speelman who constructed bastions and buildings of typical Dutch architecture making it the centre of the civilian government, including a church on its premises. One of the best preserved forts of that area, only the thick walls of earth and stones remain of the original complex, now occupied by educational and cultural offices of the provincial government. The two buildings house the Ujung Pandang State Museum, exhibiting archaeological and historical objects, manuscripts, numismatics, ceramics and ethnic costumes and ornaments. The royal tombs, ruins, and sacred sites of Gowa and Tallo are today the only remainders of the gone prominence of 17th-century Makassar.
Parepare was in the past part of the kingdom of Suppa and a significant coastal port for the inland kingdoms of Sidenreng and Rappang, near the central lakes. Today is a busy port and a stopover on the way from Makassar to Toraja.
Tucked among the rocky and lush plateaus of inland South Sulawesi live many isolated tribes known as a group of Torajan. Tana Toraja, known as "Toraja Land" is one of most beautiful regions of Indonesia. It is admired because of distinctive cultural exceptionality, extremely gorgeous scenery, funeral ceremonies, old traditions, traditional carvings and craftsmanship. The Toraja have unique culture based on strong animistic beliefs, they practice an ancestor cult where death and afterlife ceremonies are great feasts. A strict hierarchy is followed in the villages and for an important figure, wedding and burial ceremonies, can take days to perform, when buffalos are sacrificed, the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out in high cliffs. The mouth of the cave is guarded by lifelike statues, who diligently look out from a balcony at the families and friends they have left. Torajan ( there are about 360,000 inhabitants ) usually live in small settlements perched on hilltops bordered by stone walls. Several extended families live in a series of tongkonan houses in each village, which are arranged in a circle around an open field. Tongkonan, family houses, are 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's ancestors. The houses all face north and some say that this because it was from the north that the ancestors of the Toraja came. Kete Kesu is one of the region's oldest and most-visited traditional villages, idyllically surrounded by rice fields. Scattered among rice fields are several cave tombs where rows of wooden effigies gaze from hanging balconies like guards of their stony graves. The best know grave sites are in Londa, Lemo and Kete Kesu.
Malino is a very enjoyable retreat from the hustle and buzz in Makassar. Situated on the lower slopes of Mount Bawa Karaeng, it offers pleasant walks with gorgeous views and really good market selling all sorts of fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. It is especially worth visiting for orchid lovers, as lots of species can be found here in the cooler climate.
Bantimurung Reserve attracts with spectacular waterfall, cliffs and chasms, and its butterflies and birds. Rare brightly coloured butterflies are considered the most gorgeous in the world. In the dry season the waterfall is a mass of clear, surging water which drop about 12 metres from smoothed rocks into a deep pool below.
Taman Purbakala Leang-Leang
Declared an archaeological site, these prehistoric caves have strange rock carvings of hands and a wild pig, believed to be 5,000 year old. There are 55 such caves in South Sulawesi, all are a important supply of information about the prehistory not only of South Sulawesi but of Southeast Asia as a whole.
Sengkang and Lake Tempe
The capital town of Wajo Regency is well-known for its silk weaving and is the centre of Buginese silk. This area is populated by the Buginese ethnic group, famous for their crossing to other islands as traders of silk, sarongs and other material. Here you can find Tempe Lake, one of the tourist resorts. Sailing and boating can be enjoyed on this lake. Take a motorized canoe through the water hyacinth beds - it's a beautiful trip at any time of the year, especially in the dry season fro anybody who enjoys watching birdlife. The river is buzzing with people fishing, washing and swimming. Worth of visit is a floating village. At times, rivers and lake flood. The houses along the river are all on stilts so people simply rig up long bamboo walkways to connect their houses to the shore or their get around by boat.
Bone ( Watampone )
This is a quiet, spacious town with several old made of wood buildings from the Dutch period set in green, overgrown gardens. The main attractions are the museum, which contains ceremonial umbrellas, traditional clothing and ritual gear used by priests, and the great wooden palace built in 1930s to house the reinstated Raja of Bone. Alongside is the rumah adat, where the hadat ( council of seven ) used to meet.
This small town is dominated by the cloud-covered mountain ranges which tower imperiously behind it. The spectacular pass to Palopo from Tana Toraja was for centuries the major east coast trade exit. Down the pass came gold, resins, rare woods, fine coffees and slaves. Up went iron swords and weapons from Luwu's coastal armories, salt and dried fish.