The Three Batak Megalithic

North Sumatra

The three megalithic sites on Samosir bear witness to the glory and horror of Batak history. The three consist of 300-year-old stone seats and benches arrayed in a circle. The first set of ruins was used as a conference area for Batak kings. At the second site, the kings would sit in judgment of a criminal or enemy prisoner. If the accused were found guilty, the assembly would move to the third set, which features the ghastly addition of a central stone execution block.

Other, less gruesome attraction can occupy many days of exploration and discovery. All over the island are superb examples of traditional Batak houses, with elaborate carvings and decorations. Performance of life-size is Gale-gale wooden puppet are held frequently, and at any moment, the musical Batak might break into an impromptu song, the seeming effortless, multi-part harmonies belying the casual setting.

Now, students and young professionals on tight budget have a good value accommodation, restaurants and general cosmopolitan atmosphere remain. With few motor vehicles, the island is a walker’s paradise. Local guides are available for numerous hikes of varying difficulty around the island and surrounding lakeshore. Those who complete the 1600 meter climb up muddy trails to the village of Roonggurni need not be proud of their accomplishment: village children descend and re-climb the mountain every day to attend school.

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