Toraja Land
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The province of South Sulawesi comprises the narrow south-western peninsula of this orchid-shaped island which is mainly mountainous. The seafaring Bugis dominate the southern tip, whereas the northern part of South Sulawesi is inhabited by the Torajas whose unique culture rivals that of the Balinese.

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.

The 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).

Further north, through rugged country is Tana Toraja, often referred to as the "Land of the Heavenly Kings". An ethnic group who believes that their forefathers descended from heaven onto a mountain some twenty generations ago, the Torajas have a unique culture based on animistic beliefs. Known for their grand burial ceremonies on cliffs or hanging graves, they practice an ancestral cult even today where death and afterlife ceremonies are great feasts when buffaloes are sacrificed in the final death ceremony, after which the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out in high cliffs.

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