The journey to Goa Londa

 

Image by: Michael Gunther - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36780535

Goa Londa (Londa Cave) is one of the popular tourist destinations in Tana Toraja. There are a lot of graves inside the cave. We can see many coffins stored in the cave and some are hung at the cliff.

The sacred cave is about 7-8 kilometers north of Rantepao. It's about 15 minutes if we go by cars. In fact, public transportation vehicles are available but we should wait for a long time. It doesn't guarantee the bus will come. You won't see the bus, though you have waited for four hours if you're unlucky.

It's more or less a kilometer if we choose the Makale - Rantepao main route. It is quite exciting to trek all the way into one of the popular burial ground in Tana Toraja.

After reaching the parking lot in front of the cemetery, each tourist should spend 10.000 rupiahs to buy the entrance ticket. Later, everyone should pay to rent a Petromax before entering the cave.

The visitors will meet the workers and the locals who rent kerosene lamps to the tourists around the area of the staircase. The rental cost for a lamp is approximately 25.000 - 30.000 rupiahs. It can be used for a group of 5 - 6 people. The Petromax renters usually don't set the price but it's advisable that we pay them a reasonable price.

Tourists see a classic portal while they are entering that tourist area. There are carvings on the sides of the portal and a buffalo with sickle-shape horn in the middle.

Londa is a stony burial ground or a place to store the ancestors' corpses of the Torajan people.

Before Islam and Christian, Aluk Todolo or Alukta is the traditional belief in Tana Toraja. It becomes the foundation of the traditional rituals in Toraja.

Keeping the corpse isn't necessary in Alukta belief. Burying the corpse as soon as possible is fine because it will let the Torajan people have more time to perform blessing ceremony.

According to various sources of information, there are a lot of reasons why corpses should be kept in the cave or hill pits. Therefore, the family members and relatives will have enough time to come to pay final respect and expressing their love to the dead. It also gives time for the family to collect enough money and sacrificial animals, so that they can perform Rambu Solok ritual to send the dead to Puya or the Wonderland of the soul. Eventually, keeping corpses becomes the tradition of the locals.

It is said that Toraja people keep corpses in their traditional houses called Tongkonan. The noble families are allowed to keep the dead bodies for 36 nights. Ordinary people keep the corpses less than 36 nights. Some don't keep the deceased at all because the time of the funeral rites is so short.

People have different opinions about the corpses kept in the traditional house. Some said the deceased kept in the Tongkonan were mostly died of sickness.

Besides different opinions and reasons, it has become the tradition and tourist destination that attracts a lot of tourists who would like to admire the ceremony and take a close look at the traditional house.

It is so nerve wracking while you're guided by someone carrying a kerosene lamp to the location where there are two coffins lying silently on the ground. It's something like the Romeo and Juliet's coffins, which are so romantic and most tourists are willing to take a close look inside the cave. It is said that the couple's family members rejected the relationship because they were cousins. At last, they made up their mind to run away and commit suicide.

The deeper we go into the cave, the hotter the temperature is. More and more unique ornaments can be captured with camera.

The time spent walking in the cave isn't too long but it is also not short. The footholds feel slippery and almost unseen because of low light. Visitors should be very careful while taking photos. A little careless will let you fall down and break your ankle.

As the light is so weak, visitors should activate their camera flash to take photos and be very careful to step on the slippery footholds.

Visitors can get out of the cave by walking on the stone steps and reach a temple where they will see tombstones everywhere around the hill.

The Torajan people believe that the dead can bring their property to the hell. That's why they burry the corpses together with their belongings.

This is an admirable journey and will always remain in every visitor’s memory forever.


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