The Jakarta Post
The Selayar Archipelago in South Sulawesi is famous for its fascinating marine national park, a diver’s paradise in Taka Bonerate.
This zone is the third-largest coral atoll in the world after Kwajifein Atoll, Marshall Islands, and Suvadiva Atoll, Maldive Islands, with a total area of 220,000 hectares.
The archipelago, covering 10,503.69 kilometers with a population of 123,283, has tourism potential with its significant cultural and historical heritage.
A small and remote hamlet, Gantarang Lalang Bata, in Bontomanai district, Selayar Islands regency, is an example. A religious and mystical atmosphere prevails as one passes its main entry in the form of coral steps under an old banyan tree.
With 176 residents, the hamlet boasts a mosque built in the 17th century ( 1605 ), Mesjid Awaludin, the second-oldest in South Sulawesi.
Gantarang Lalang Bata hamlet head Muhammad Asrul, said the mosque had been inherited from Datuk Ri Bandang, the first Islamic propagator who spread the religion on Selayar Islands.
Besides the mosque being seen as a historical monument, the local community also indicates that the centuries-old graves around the mosque belong to the Gantarang kingdom royal family.
History also records Selayar as a busy commercial shipping transit port due to its strategic location for eastbound and westbound vessels.
This is supported by the presence of a big bronze gong in the regency thought to be the oldest in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia.
Discovered underground at the depth of 2-3 meters in Papaniohea, Bontosaile hamlet by a gardener named Sabuna in 1686; it is believed to have originated in Dong Son ( bronze age ) culture in the Red River Delta of Northern Vietnam.
Known as a sacred gong, it is adorned with fauna and flora motifs like elephants, birds, fish and betel plants. On its top surface are four frog sculptures 20 centimeters long and on its sides are four ears functioning
On Gusung Island, 30 minutes from the Selayar city of Benteng by wooden boats called lepa, there is a Copra Warehouse left behind by Dutch colonizers.
South of this island, Liang Kareta touts its beautiful beach and friendly people, who mostly produce dried fish and copra.
Back to Benteng, the capital of Selayar, some 7 kilometers from the city hub is Sappo Langkasa, a soaring structure west of the old settlement of Bitombang. Sappo langkasa is the name of a communal building well known in Bitombang for being 13 meters tall.
With 20 houses, Sappo Langkasa was built according to the uneven topography of the settlement area. Pillars were derived from holasa wood, lasting for hundreds of years.
Uniquely, in this settlement many people over 90-years-old can be seen sitting on verandas or once in a while looking out from windows.
— Photos By Agung Parameswa