Tana Toraja, the Beauty of the Highland and Where the Queen of Coffee Cultivated

When hearing the word Toraja, coffee enthusiasts from around the globe will automatically click. Because the Arabica coffee cultivated in Tana Toraja was crowned as the queen of coffee. This is due to its strong flavor but low acidity.

You can say that Toraja is one of the captivating highlands on the east side of Indonesia, about 1400 to 2100 above sea level. It is a regency located 328 km from Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi. Aside from the coffee, this regency is also famous for the Toraja people’s way of living.

What is Toraja Famous for?

The name of Toraja came from the local’s tongue of “to riaja” which means people who came from the highland. Back when Indonesia was under the Netherlands, the colonial government called them the Toraja people. Therefore, Tana Toraja is the place where Toraja people are living.

As we mentioned above, aside from coffee Toraja’s way of living is unique and intriguing. Here are the reasons:

1. The Burial Ceremony

Amongst other things, the burial ceremony in Toraja costs way more than any other rites, even weddings. For that reason, if a person dies, the family will keep the body while trying to raise money for the funeral, more known as tomate

This body keeping can be several years, moreover if it was someone with influence. This is because the funeral is the last honor that the family can do for the deceased. The ceremony may last a week-long, where people come and dance and the family held buffaloes fight. 

Then, there’s also slaughtering of animals like pigs and buffalos which they believe will ferry the deceased soul to the puya (afterlife in Toraja belief). After that, they bury the deceased in a small cave, in a hollow tree, or even in a bamboo frame and hang the body from a cliff.

2. The Tongkonan House

Up until today, Tongkonan Houses are still standing proudly. The characteristic of these houses is the upward-sloping roofs. In Toraja’s belief, the house is the center of everything. From Aluktodolo (Toraja ancestors’ belief) rites, harvest storing, until slaughtering sacred water of the buffaloes at the funeral ceremony. 

3. The Toraja Wood Carving

When you see the Tongkonan House, you would notice that Toraja people have creative hands. Because they have a way with wood carving and made beautiful ones. Not to mention, they have their traditional pattern and motif for this wood carving. 

How to Get There and How Much It Cost?

You have to head to Toraja from Makassar by plane or road trip. But there are a few choices of flight service, so the safe bet is by driving or taking public transportation. For this road trip, you will need 8 hours of travel time, while by plane it will be only 50 minutes.

For the travel fee, you have to pay from 75 to 150 thousand rupiahs for a bus per person. Meanwhile, if you have a chance to get a plane ticket, it will be around 750 thousand rupiahs. The price is cheaper than renting a car that will cost you up to 1.5 million rupiahs, excluding driver and gas.

Then, for hotels, the price ranges from 200 to 300 thousand rupiahs per night. If you decide to explore the villages in Toraja, you have to pay 2-10 thousand rupiahs for the bemo ride, and the local transportation. Also, some sites will cost you around 20 to 30 thousand rupiahs as an entrance fee.

The beauty of Tana Toraja soared through the seas and the unique ritual always caught much attention of people around the world. If you happened to be there because of the burial rite, the cost may be skyrocketing. 

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