BUKITTINGGI AREA OF WEST SUMATRA

BUKITTINGGI

Bukittinggi (89 kilometers or two hours by bus from Padang) is a hill station in the heart if the West Sumatran highlands. Located at 930 meters (2800 feet) above sea level it has a cool climate and is surrounded by three volcanos, scores of picturesque villages and lakes and canyons. Many travelers come here. Cheap hotels and restaurants are in the northern part of town near the main road Jalan Ahmad Yani.

The center of attraction in the town is its clock tower which is topped with a Minangkabau-style, horn-shaped roof. This is also where the market is found that is busiest on Wednesday and Saturday. The main museum is housed in a Minangkabau-style building with a collection of Minangkabau items inside. At the Pasako hotel barefooted female dancers jump up and down on plates, reducing them to shards. There also occasionally duck races, in which ducks fly a 110-meter course, with winners earning a few grams of gold for their owners. Also worth checking out is the Rumah Gadang museum, which is a renovated longhouse that holds dances performances every Sunday.

Nestled in the highlands north of Padang in the Agam valley and dubbed “the most relaxing city in Sumatra, Bukittinggi is a bustling market town while Padang is a modern commercial and administrative hub, Although it is less than a degree south of the equator, Bukittinggi has a refreshingly cool climate and lots of rain. The town also has an alternative name, Tri Arga, which refers to the three majestic volcanoes that shape the regions fortunes.

There are many hotels offering various rates and facilities in Bukittinggi, such as those located at Laras Dt. Bandaro-Sukarno Hatta-Dr. A. Rivai-Jenderal Sudirman streets and those around Jam Gadang area. If you are looking for a star hotel, the Novotel Coralia Bukittinggi offers a grand view of the beautiful Anai valley, while Lima's Hotel, Hotel Asia and Hotel Denai are classified locally as 'superior hotels'.

Bukittinggi is famous for it’s spicy Padang food. In the market, there are many places selling Kapau rice, Padang satay and many other types of foods, spicy crackers and red chili powder by the bagful. Simpang Raya, Jl. Muka Jam Gadang, is a large, popular restaurant with good-quality Padang food plus a basic Indonesian menu with soup, rice or noodle dishes. Though the horse carriage is far more expensive than the 'ojek', it is very popular with the locals, especially as it can carry the whole members of one’s family.

Shopping and Markets in Bukittinggi

West Sumatra is famous for its handicrafts that include from beautiful hand woven Minang fabrics and intricate wood carvings. Silver shops are located in old Dutch houses at Kota Gadang. For traditional songket weavings and wood carvings the village of Pandai Sikat is worth a visit. The market shops in Bukittinggi are crammed with beautifully embroidered Minangkabau garments in rich reds and golds. Wedding sashes, head pieces and pillow cases all make great easy to carry souvenirs.

For those who enjoy shopping or just want to soak up the local bustling market atmosphere, the lively Pasar Atas (Upper Market), just south of the clock tower, is lined with stalls and shops selling everyday goods and souvenirs. This colorful market is crammed with stalls selling everything. If you’re still hunting for souvenirs after your trip to Pasar Atas, try the collection of shops that line Jl Ahmad Yani.

West Sumatra is famed for its exquisite handicrafts producing rich gold and silver “songket” cloths on handwoven red, sky blue, royal yellow or deep green cloths, elegant embroidered pieces used at elaborate traditional weddings, fine embroidered “peranakan” wedding costumes, accessories and sandals, filigree work, woodcarving, embroidered muslim wear and prayer veils -or “mukenah”,- and a whole lot more. West Sumatra is also famous for its “rendang”, complete “nasi Padang”, hot dried beef “balado” and all kinds of tidbits and crackers to munch on or to take home as gifts.

Pasar Aur Kuning: This is Bukittinggi’s answer to Jakarta’s Tanah Abang wholesale market. Located on the Jalan M. Yamin, somewhat away from the Jam Gadang town center of Bukittinggi, the Pasar Aur Kuning market — or more popularly known as just Pasar Aur - is a magnet for serious shoppers from all parts of Sumatra and Java, as well as for tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. With near to 1,500 shops covering an area of 2.3 hectares, Pasar Aur Kuning sells mostly textiles and textile products. Since West Sumatra is predominantly Muslim, here one can find a large variety of Muslim wear in choice colors, fashion and material, from the plain to the elaborately embroidered. This market also sells bedsheets, curtains, casual wear to carpets. Regular visitors vouch that prices here can be bargained down to as much as half of those elsewhere, of course depending on your bargaining skills. A smattering of the local Minang lingo will also help bring prices down.

Pasar Atas: Pasar Atas or the Upper Market is where you can find the most mouth watering Padang food. But beware, Padang food is known to be extremely chilli hot, as you can see from the red sauce dripping from almost all dishes. But you must try what CNN Go calls the world’s most favorite dish, -the Beef Rendang. The cubed beef has been marinated and cooked in many kinds of ingredients, resulting in the soft unforgettable meat dish which tastes heavenly eaten with steaming hot rice. Or try the Rendang balado, which is the dried beef version. And everywhere in this market you can buy hot chilli by the bagfull to buy and bring home. Another hot favorite dessert is the Pisang kapik, or the barbequed banana, that comes in sweet, sour or salty tastes added with ground coconut meat and brown sugar. Other tidbits to take home or munch on the road are the many kinds of crackers made of casssava, potatoes or sweet potatoes, covered in cheese or chilli sauce. : Kota Gadang: Across Bukittinggi on the other side of the Canyon is Kota Gadang, a town famous for its fine silver filigree works crafted into miniature Minang houses, brooches and other accessories. If you are looking for fine embroidery including gold embroidery, Kota Gadang is the place to go. Those interested may even visit homes where women are hard at work finishing their masterpieces. Many Peranakan Chinese from Singapore and Malaysia will also look for traditional wedding accessories here at Kota Gadang, where are still produced some of the best Chinese embroidery as done in the days of the Chinese emperors

Sights in Bukittinggi: Big Clock and the Japanese Bunker

Within the town of Bukittinggi the main landmark is the clock tower, dubbed by the local people as Jam Gadang (Big Clock), and big it certainly is! This 26 meter tall clock was built in 1826 as a present from the Dutch Queen to the city secretary, Rook Maker. Its roof has been changed three times reflecting changes in the history of the town itself. During the Dutch era, its roof was round with a rooster statue on its top. Today its roof reflects architecture of a traditional Minangkabau home. One unique thing about this clock is its IV, as it is written as ‘IIII’. Jam Gadang is located within a 100 meter park. Near the clock is Atas Market, which is a trading center in Bukittinggi.

The Japanese bunker Bukittinggi was built by Indonesian forced labor for the Japanese soldiers who occupied Indonesia from 1942 to 1945. This 1,470 meter long underground bunker is 40 meters below Ngarai Sianok (Sianok canyon). There are 21 tunnels in the bunker which were used to store ammunition, as residences, meeting rooms, the Romusha (forced labourer) dining room, kitchen, prison, hearing room, torture room, espionage room, ambush room, and the escape gate. Exploring this complex burrow of tunnels and caves is a real adventure. You can see how these this place made an effective fortress. The tunnels are three meters in diameter and have walls so thick that sounds cannot be heard from the outside. The tunnels cover a vast area, nearly two hectares, and have six doors. One door is located in Panorama Park while others access Sianok village in the Ngarai Sianok ravine.

The main entrance to the Japanese bunker is located in Panorama Park, where you can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of Ngarai Sianok. Walking down into the Japanese bunker can be a challenge with some narrow spaces to squeeze through. While originally it would’ve been very dark and cold these tunnels today now have lamps and proper ventilation. Most of these tunnels will soon have rooms to display photographs, a museum of struggle, and a mini theater. At the entrance gate, visitors can see a map of this bunker and each tunnel now has information boards about its functions. This bunker also has CCTV cameras.

If you have the times and energy, take in remnants of the towns colonial past with a walk to ruins of Fort de Kock, a Dutch fortification built in 1825. While not much of the fort remains today, there is a lookout tower which is an excellent spot to watch the sunset and take in a view of Mt Marapi (Fire Mountain) which occasionally lets out plumes of smoke. Get an insight into Minang culture by attending a dance performance at the museum's open stage conducted every Sunday and on public holidays. Night dance performances are at Sliguri. You might also want to check out the bullfights at Padang Lawas (6 kilometers south of Bukittinggi) every Tuesday at 5.00pm

Getting Around and Getting to Bukittinggi

Bukittinggi is compact so practically everywhere in Bukkittinggi is within walking distance. Taxis and buses are also available. The bus terminal is in the south of the town. A rented car with chauffeur is the best choice if you prefer privacy. Horse carriages or sado are a colorful, charming transportation to move around town.

A flight from Jakarta to Minangkabau International Airport in Ketaping will take about 2 hours. From there you can use a taxi or bus to get to Bukittinggi. From Minangkabau international airport, you can take a rented car or minibus to Bukittinggi.Bukkittinggi is a pleasant two-hour drive (90 kilometers) from Padang through the gorgeous Anai Valley up to Agam Plateu. There are frequent local buses from Padang to Bukkitinggi or cheaper shared minivans which depart from Minang Plaza.

Near Bukittinggi

The countryside surrounding Bukittinggi is beautiful. The two drive through the Anai valley to the Agam Plateau is a picturesque blend of terraced rice fields and forests. The dense forests found here are impressive as is the clear water in the Anai river. There is a 120-meter waterfall right off the road. Also nearby are the silverwork town of Kota Gadang, the sogket-weaving center of Pandai Sikat and Gunung Merapi, one of the the most active volcanos on Sumatra. It is 2891 meters high and is often deemed to be too dangerous to climb. Lemnah Anai Nature Reserve (between Bukittinggi and Padang) is home to the rafflesia.

Kota Gadang, a small village of silversmiths is a few kilometers from Bukittinggi and can be reached from the town via a one hour hike. Here you’ll find all kinds of silverwares for sale, from delicate silver filigree to pins in the form of ornate flowers. If you don’t feel like walking, the village can be reached by opelet (local bus) from Aur Kunung bus terminal. A number of tour operators in Bukittinggi also run tours to Kota Gadang.

If you’ve got time, it’s worth visiting the Rumah Gadang Museum, a traditional extended family house built in the 19th century. From Bukittinggi you can also visit Harau nature reserve, the Pagaruyung Minangkabau palace, Lake Maninjau, Lake Singkarak and Sianok Canyon.

Batang Palupuh (near Bukittinggi) is a refuge for the giant flowers Rafflesia Arnoldi, blooming only once a year in November. A guide can be obtained from the office at the reserve. Since Rafflesia arnoldi only blooms for a week, it is advisable to come in November and consult the tour agencies if you want to see the blooming flower. The Rafflesia arnoldi is a parasitic plant. The giant flower lures insects and digests them for grow. It grows for 9 months and only flowers for about a week.

Ngalau Indah Caves (on the road from Bukittinggi to Payakumbuh) extend deep into the side of a mountain. Thousands of bats live in these caves. It is an awesome sight they fly out of the cave in the evening. A path goes through the caves and leads up a hillside.

Rimba Panti Nature Reserve (100 kilometers from Bukittinggi) by car from Medan or Bukittinggi. Animals found in this park include several species of monkey, honey bear, black panthers. flying squirrels and butterflies. Inside the park there is a special reserve for Rafflesia, the world's largest and smelliest flower which only blooms once a year.

Ngarai Sianok Canyon

Ngari Sianok (on the outskirts of Bukittinggi) is a 150-meter-deep canyon surrounded by a green valley with a winding river that lies at the bottom. It is one of the picturesque places in western Sumatra and is very popular with tourists. It lies just on the outskirts of Bukittinggi in the Minangkabau highlands and features giant cliff faces with rugged trees that grow in unlikely places with dramatic mountains in the background

Located on the southwestern edge of Bukkittinggi, the spectacular Ngarai Sianok Canyon is a unique geographic wonder. For an amazing sight visit the canyon in the early morning. As dawn creeps across the peak of Mt Singgalang, blankets of mist drift around the canyon’s 100 metre cliffs. A river meanders through the rice fields below disappearing in the hazy distance beyond. The canyon has sheer walls and a flat bottom and is a part of a tectonic rift valley which runs the entire length of the island. The best look out over the canyon in Bukittinggi is from Panorama Park which is also a popular spot with locals who come here to stroll in the afternoon air.

The height Ngarai Sianok’s canyon walls are about 100 to 120 meters and the canyon itself is 15 kilometers long. This gorge separates the towns of Bukittinggi and Kota Gadang on its opposite side. The beauty of Sianok can be seen from Panorama Park in Bukittinggi or you can also walk down into the gorge, where there is a settlement and paddy fields. After crossing a bridge over the river, you can climb up to Kota Gadang, home of silversmiths. Panorama Park charges visitors a small entrance fee of Rp 3.000 per person. Along with admiring the beauty of Sianok, visitors can also visit a Japanese bunker, built during World War II, located at the base of the canyon (See Above). From he gazebos in the park you can watch monkeys playing around. In addition, there is a 20-meter-tall viewing tower near souvenir shops where you could see the beauty of Ngarai Sianok clearer. Alternatively, visitors could travel 2 kilometers using private car to small settlements and paddy fields at the foot of this gorge.

Rafflesia Park

Raflesia Park (10 kilometers from of Bukittinggi) is part of the Batang Palupuh Nature Conservation Center in Agam district. Although it has many other species, this 3.4 hectare conservation center is focused on conserving the Raflesia flower, which can only be found on Sumatra Island. This flower usually blossoms during wet seasons i.e. from mid to end of year.

Batang Palupuh Raflesia Park is a conservation center for three types of Raflesia flowers; Raflesia Arnoldi, which can be 1,5 meters wide when blossoming, Raflesia Arizentis centimeters cm diameter when blossoming, and Raflesia Oumor Pupolus Titanum. Although it is more like a forest, this center is called a park because many Bunga Bangkai grow here. Outside this area, Raflesia flowers also grow in three to four areas.

Because Raflesia does not blossom all the time, it is best for visitors to first contact the Office of Natural Resource Conservation at Khatib Sulaiman Street no 46A Padang, or contact the Natural Resource Conversation Unit of Agam district. In addition to obtaining the correct information about the blossoming time, coordination between the Office and rangers in Batang Palupuh station will prevent you from any illegal collection around the area.

Batang Palupuah is a large nature conservation area. However, visitors can only see blossoming Raflesia flowers within one to two kilometers. To see the unique flowers, visitors can only trek or walk across the forest. There are muddy paths with giant roots. You can get to the park as part of an organized tour, by hiring car and driver, by public transport from Bukit Tinggi or taking a minibus plying the Padang-Pasaman route. This bus passes in front of the gate of the park.

Rafflesia, the World's Largest Flower

The rafflesia is the world's largest flower. It can measure 42 inches across and weigh 15 pounds, much large than the plant that produces it. The five thick, leathery, red and orange pedals are a foot long and covered with molted, cream-colored warts. The cup-like diaphragm the pedals surround can hold six quarts of water. Within the cup are spiky sex organs. The flower has no visible leaves or stems and sits directly on the ground.. [Source: William Meijer, National Geographic, July 1985]

Rafflesia was discovered and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, an influential early 19th century British colonial leader in Southeast Asia. A famous hotel in Singapore is also named after him. Today the rafflesia is found only in western Borneo and Sumatra. Elephants, tigers and a little blue snake with a red head with a bite that kill you within minutes also live in the jungles where rafflesia is found.

There are several species of rafflesia . The largest is found in Sumatra. The plant of this species regularly produces a flower that is about 36 inches across. It is not known why the flower is so big. Perhaps it is because the plant gets all of its food from its host and can pour all its energy into making the flower.

Rafflesia Plant and Seeds

The rafflesia is a parasitic plant that digs invisibly into a host vine that is a member of the grape family. They have long roots that can reach as long as 20 meters and sometimes grow in trees. The host vine hangs down from the rain forest. In places where it hits the ground, during a predictable time, a lump appears in the vine's bark that gets bigger and bigger until it emerges as an orange globe. The globe continues growing until it becomes a cabbage-lik bud. When a bud opens into a flower the image is reminiscent of the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Except when the flower is blooming the entire Rafllesia is underground.

Rafflesia is called the "corpse flower" by locals because it smells like rotting flesh. Guides usually track it by smell not sight. The fetid odor is used to attract carrion flies which are the flower's chief pollinator. There are fewer females flowers than males and the females are rarely fertilized. The fruit has been observed even less frequently than the flower. It is about six inches across and has a woody brown surface, and an oily, cream-colored flesh filled with thousands of red-brown seeds.

The vines on which the rafflesia grow are common but finding ones with rafflesia is a more difficult proposition. You need to look for a row of a half dozen or so buds of increasing size, bulging from the ground where the vines are covered by a thin layer of soil. Even if you find a bud that is no guarantee that you will see a flower. The timing of the bloom varies. Many animals eat the buds before they become flowers. Other rot on the vine. The flower wilts into a black gooey mess within four days after it blooms.

No one knows for certain how the seeds are transported so they can infect new vines. Some scientist believe that tree shrews and squirrels eat the fruit and distribute the seeds in their excrement. Others believe they are carried in the feet of large animals that puncture the vines by stepping on them, allowing the parasite to enter. They have speculated that one reason there are so few Rafflesia is that there are so few large animals to distribute the seeds.

Spikes at the center of the Rafflensia kerrii flower may help dispense the odor of rotting meat. Seeds for the Rafflesia arrnoldii and the slightly smaller Rafflesia keithii are distributed by treeshews and squirrels that eat the flower's cantaloupe-size fruit and excrete the seeds in their dropping as they scampers around on the vines that play host to the parasitic flowers.

Harau Valley

Harau Valley (near the town of Payakumbu, 40 kilometers from Bukittinggi) is a nature reserve where tapir, siamang, boars, wild goats and tiger still roam. Sometimes called the Arau valley and located in the Lima Puluh Kota district, this scenic valley boasts lush green rice fields hemmed in between huge granite cliffs. Dozens of waterfalls tumble down from 80 to 300 meters height into the valley below, cut by the Batang Arau River. The Harau Valley is sometimes known as the Yosemite of Indonesia.

In the valley gibbons and macaques and a variety of wildlife still roam freely and are often seen. One popular destination is a waterfall named the Bunta Waterfall, known locally as Sarasah Bunta, that pours down the highlands. Three other waterfalls nearby. The other waterfalls are called the Akar Barayun, Sarasah Luluh, and Sarasah Murai. Rock climbers climb the granite cliffs on the sides of the valley. There are 300 designated spots to climb

One theory has it that the Harau Valley came into being as a result of a tectonic fracture on an ancient land, with parallel rivers running through it. As one part of the land sank, while the other rose, the waterways broke, and waterfalls eventually ensued from the spillways above the rocky hills. German geologists who had conducted a study here found that the huge granite rocks found in the area are in fact identical to those found on the ocean bed. Thus, there is now another theory that the valley may have once laid at the bottom of the ocean.

A bus from Bukittinggi going to Pekanbaru stop by the cross road to the Harau Valley, locally known as Lembah Harau. It takes a little over an hour from Bukittinggi. If you take a rented car or motorcycle, just pass through the narrow road where a bunch of motorized taxis or tricycle riders will approach anyone alighting from a public transport. Going to the valley may take less than a dollar by opelet, the motorized becak. As the region is a nature reserve, you must pay an entrance fee, but the person who collect the money of often not there. The Lembah Echo Homestay is right at the narrowest chasm of the valley is a scenic place to stay. You will pass a number of other homestays along the way. Renting a bike in Harau may be possible.

Batusangkar

Batusangkar (45 kilometers southwest of Bukittinggi) is a center of the ancient Minangkabau culture. Ruins from a 14th century city can be found here as well the "Written Stone" and the "Stabbed Stone." Nearby on the slopes of Mt. Merapi is Belimbing, thought to be the cradle of Minangkabau culture. Batusangkar is the the capital of Tanah Datar regency,in the West Sumatra Province. It can be reached from Padang,

Batu Basurek (The Written Stone") is a stone with inscriptions in the old Palava script of India, bearing the legend of Adityawarman in the year 1347. The stone is 25 centimeters wide, 80 centimeters high, and 10 centimeters thick. Erected above King Adityawarman's resting place centuries ago, this stone was rediscovered in December 16th, 1880. The inscription describes Adityawarman's heritage. Due to his services to Majapahit Kingdom, Adityawarman became a king in Dharmasraya and moved his kingdom from Siguntur Sawahlunto to Pagaruyung. Batu Basurek lies about 4 kilometer from Batusangkar

Nagari Sijunjung

Nagari Sijunjung (South of Bukittinggi) is an incredible Minangkabau site. It was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in January 2015. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung (Perkampungan Adat Nagari Sijunjung) located at two villages, Jorong Koto Padang and Tanah Bato, of Sijunjung regency of West Sumatra. The main setting of settlement is in a linier position lies between two large rivers, namely Batang Sukam and Batang Kulampi. The compound of traditional houses is surrounded by hills, forest, paddy fields, and plantation. There are 76 houses in this area inhabited by nine clans and their subordinate clans. The traditional houses symbolize matrilineal-based clans in nagari, customary village of Minangkabau. It consists of paddy fields and plantation, graveyards, mosques and madrasah-Islamic school, market, and balai adat (customs hall). [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia to UNESCO]

“Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung represents matrilineal system of the Minangkabau society. Not much settlement in Minangkabau area have a complete components and people living in the houses with its traditional ways. However, the clans of Sijunjung settlement are still lived in their social organization system based on unique of its following traits: system of lineage through female descendants, each clan member is required to espouse other clan members (exogamy), matri-local marriages, and rights and heirlooms are inherited from mamakto kamanakan (a woman’s brother to his nephews).This system represented by stratified family group consists of nuclear family, extended family, family clan. Each stratified family group headed by a male clan member called mamak and amongst mamak, they will elect a clan leader called penghulu. Each traditional house in this region symbolizes proprietorship of inheritance by and through female descendants bound by the mother’s genealogy.

“Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is a representation of settlement that reflects matrilineal Minangkabau society with its rumah gadang (literally means ‘big house) that implements the entity and serves as a tangible form of Minangkabau matrilineal system. The main function of rumah gadang is to preserve the matrilineal system. A traditional rumah gadang is an ensign of a clan in Minangkabau society; every clan has its own traditional rumah gadang. Traditional rumah gadang also symbolizes gender equality and the dignity of female and ethnicity. Women remain secure even when the married ones divorce from their marriages, as they still stay in their own house after marriage. Rumah gadang is also a sign of social position of a person. According to tradition, one can still be stated as a Minangkabau so far as one (still) owns traditional rumah gadang. Every traditional rumah gadang has spacious yards planted with various useful plants, aimed at maintaining the environment and ecology in harmony and equilibrium.

“The villages are still inhabited by the clans, their members maintaining tradition, social structure, and leadership according to Minangkabau’s cultural values, such as batuka tando (exchange of gifts), maantar marapulai (accompanying a groom to the house of his bride), batagak pangulu (inaugurating a clan leader), bakaua adat (swearing a traditional oath), mambantai adat (livestock butchering) and batoboh (mutual cooperation). The Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung reflects a local wisdom that sharing the space for nature and culture as well as an imaginary vision that sharing the space into the life and afterlife. Those notions are reflected on the elements of the traditional settlement such as houses, customary hall, mosque and madrasah (Islamic school), market, graveyard, paddy field and plantation. Minangkabau Tambo, a classic Minangkabau saga, affects the arrangement setting of rumah gadang in landscape.”

“The nature space is allotted in accordance to its shape. Minangkabau proverb says“sloping land is to be planted with rice, steep land is for planting, flat land is for kaleyard, wet land is for rice field, solid lands are for housing, the high land is for graveyard, water depths for fish embankment, the solid land for shepherds, the mud land is for wallow, the fenny land is for avian playgrounds.”

Nagari Sijunjung as a Living Tradition

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is a living tradition. It is a heritage that has been handed over from generation to generation since 14th century. Indeed, as a living culture, changes occurred along the time. This settlement has located in isolated land between two rivers and not much contacted with the modern lifestyle. However, all of these changes should be understood as a dynamic process that commonly occurs within a living culture. These changes are part of the historical stratification. The property meets the integrity in many aspects such as cosmology, customs and ceremonies, settlement pattern, housing construction and ornamental design, and paddy fields and plantation. [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia to UNESCO]

Traditional settlement at Nagari Sijunjung remains original since time Pagaruyung Kingdom starting from 14th century. The originality of this village is shown by its housing pattern. All of clan rumah gadang (which is considered as early houses) located at street side, whose borders are marked by using certain plants (usually palm tree). Several rumah gadang have original carvings, traditionally called buah palo patah, kuciang lalok jo saik galamai, aka duo gagang, kaluak paku kacang balimbiang. In terms of architecture a traditional rumah gadang has a peculiarity in wooden building structure and shape of the roof resembles buffalo horn, also called as atok bagonjong.

This settlement is still running their custom and cultural activities, one of which is known as cooperation group, a group whose members cooperate in making an important decision. The decisions are especially on social, political and economic aspects. Within the group, all men possess rights and duties proportionally. The elder (male) were belief to have more authority to make decision. The function of this group is mainly implemented for agricultural purpose.

Preservation of Minangkabau tradition carried out by doing wirid adat, by using quotes of traditional teaching. Traditional education is the activity initiated by clan leader in order to transfer the knowledge of tradition to young generations at a certain time in rumah gadang.

Lake Maninjau

Lake Maninjau (27 miles from Bukittinggi) is a crater lake which is 17 kilometers long and eight kilometers wide and abounds with fish. It is rival Lake Toba for its beauty. In some places the crater walls rise up 600 meters from the lake. The final descent to the lakeside towns of Maninjau and Bayur is via a road which has 44 switch backs.

Perched in the mountain highlands, 461 meters above sea level, Lake Maninjau is a splendid sight. To get to the lake, visitors must take the steeply descending road from Bukittinggi. This journey will have you on the edge of your seat as the road has sharp hairpin bends and unforgettable twists and turns. The 44 bends in this road give it its name, Kelok 44. The drive down to the lake features amazing views over the shimmering blue lake and surrounding hills.

The lake is more than just a beautiful landmark though, it’s also a part of the cultural heritage of the local people. The legend of "Bujang Sembilan" (roughly translates as "Nine Young Men") is based around this lake. According to local folklore, one of the men in the story died by plunging himself into the crater. The crater then expanded, forming a lake.

The Maninjau resort is perched at the top of a hill and offers some of the best views of the lake. Maninjau Village is located near the lake. A number of famous Indonesians call this place home. Buya Hamka, a famous Indonesian novelist, was born here.. Another famous person who was born here is Rangkayo Rasuna Said, an Indonesian national hero. There are a number of guest houses offering basic accommodation close to the lake. The most luxurious option is the Maninjau Resort.

It is possible to explore the roads and area around the lake on a mountain bike or motorbike. There are plenty of places where you walk. You can rent a canoe and paddle around the lake. From Bukkittinggi, the easiest way to get to the Lake is by car. On the drive be prepared for wild monkeys that wait by the road for scraps of food thrown from passing cars. Regular buses run daily between Maninjau and Bukkitinggi.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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