Kete Kesu Village, Facts, and Why We Should Visit Tana Toraja

There are myriad Torajan villages that can be visited in Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. However, Kete Kesu is possibly the most popular, due to their extremely preserved traditional Tongkanan houses. Each year, the visitors are presented with the sight, customs, and social life of this historic village. What makes this village is well-recognized amongst travelers, aside from its awe-inspiring artifacts or eminent handicraft and carving, is perhaps the death-celebrating traditions. Find out what makes the Kete Kesu Toraja is worth being included in your bucket list of places around the world to come by.

Here’s What You Have to Know before Visiting Kete Kesu Toraja


Nestled in the elevated region of Tana Toraja, Kete Kesu is an intriguing place surrounded by the concealing highland. The village settled in the midst of miles of rice fields. With over 400 years old of history that’s claimed as unchanging as ever, it is the earliest established village amongst others in the district of Sanggalangi. Discover the interesting sides of the Kete Kesu, including the death-honoring custom and well-conserved culture in the following.

The cherished hometown of the Torajan


The Kete community comprises about 20 families that live in 8 Tongkonan – a term for traditional Torajan house that’s easily recognizable by its massive boat-shaped roof. All of these houses are in line and face one another, with their accompanying rice barns.

Tongkonan’s walls are embellished with buffalo horns and stunning carvings that symbolize the status of its homeowner. According to the ancient society of Toraja, Tongkonan could be built by those who are noble descendants only, as the commoners typically dwelled in less sophisticated and smaller-sized houses.

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The fascinating death-celebrating traditions


Within the proximate distance of the rowing Tongkonan houses, there are menhirs placed around the rice fields, which indicate the path into Bukit Buntu Ke’su – an approximately 700 year’s old ancestral burial site. Walking on the side of the rocky hill, you can find scattering human bones and skulls, some are piled within a massive vessel. The hollow caves are present at the cliff’s façade, adorned by high-skilled carvings.

Based on the Kete Kesu traditional customs, people with higher nobility were buried in more elevated holes. Common people were rested at the foothills. This is because Torajan reckons that a person who’s buried higher will have an easier path to Heaven.

Across the cliff’s façade, the uncanny human-size tau-tau that is shaped to mimic a dead person sits high as if they observe the tomb. There are tombs enclosed with iron bars to hinder theft. The hill’s wall is also ornamented with coffins in the shape of buffalo, dragons, or pigs. Even though it has been crushed by age, these wooden crates were once very stunning with highly detailed engraved embellishment.

The talented people of Kete Kesu


It feels only natural that the Kete village that’s full of distinguishable ornaments is the home of extremely skilled craftsmen. Without using somewhat complex mathematical calculations, they are able to carve geometric and abstract patterns.

Here, not only you can bask in the beauty of the stone and bamboo handicrafts, you’ll also be able to see the process of creation and buy the souvenirs that consist of wall hangings, jewelry, coasters, tau-tau, and many more. The jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets are available at a more affordable price at a few thousand rupiahs. Meanwhile, engraved paintings or detailed wall hanging may be sold up to a few million rupiahs.

If you’d like to see the collection of unique and historic items such as sculptures, machetes, daggers, or ceramics, you may visit the museum there. Aside from providing resources of ancient Torajan’s customs and culture, the place also offers craft workshops for visitors who’d like to try to acquire the skill.

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How to reach Kete Kesu Toraja


The village of Kete Kesu is located roughly 3 miles from the highway. You can reach the area by driving for 20 minutes from Bantimurung National Park, Tana Toraja. If you travel from Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi, you’ll need 6-8 hours by drive or 45 minutes by flight.

Along the way to the region, you’ll be indulged with the sight of lush green rice fields, lined-up trees, and Tongkonan houses. It is recommended to make a quick stop to enjoy the stunning view before you’re entering the entrance of Kete village.

Domestic visitors only need to pay an Rp5.000 entrance fee, while foreign tourists just have to pay Rp10.000. As the number of visitors is limited to 20 people daily, you may want to book your visit in advance.

Kete Kesu has become a kind of living museum as it successfully preserves its traditions until this modern age. If you are interested in experiencing the social life from a close distance or the cultural heritage of the Tana Toraja, you may make the traveling planning easier by using the quality yet affordable services from or Airpaz mobile app to book your flight ticket or reserve your hotel room now.


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