When hearing the name of a place “Minahasa”, most people would automatically associate with a native tribe with unique culture, Bunaken Marine Park, White Water Rafting Rivers, and beaches. But who knows that you can also have a wonderful archaeological tourism here in this peninsula? Minahasa has several archaeological sites that can tell story about life in ancient era. Some of the most interesting objects to visit are Waruga Sawangan and Watu Pinawetengan.

Waruga Sawangan (Source: seputarsulut.com. Credit: Eser Zone)
Waruga Sawangan
(Source: seputarsulut.com. Credit: Eser Zone)

How to Get There

Minahasa is a peninsula located in the Province of North Sulawesi. To get this place, first you need to reach Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi. Sam Ratulangi International Airport of Manado serves daily flights from several airlines. From the airport, you can then rent a car with driver to get you to the object you are willing to visit. This will cost you about $19 to $27. If you just rent the car without driver, you will spend only $11 to $19. If you want it to be cheaper or more challenging, you can just rent a motorcycle. The tariff is just $3.75 to $7.5 per day.

  • To Waruga Sawangan

Waruga Sawangan is located on Sawangan Village, which is only 45 minutes from the city of Manado. The road is good and comfortable enough if you want to drive there yourself. Public bus is available at Paal Dua Terminal. Get the bus with the route to Airmadidi. At the Airmadidi Terminal, get an ojek (motor taxi) and ask him to take you to the site. The bus will cost you only 4,000. The ojek rate is depending on your bargain. It should not be very expensive as the site is very close to the terminal. It is supposed to be around $0.4 to $1.1.

  • To Watu Pinawetengan

Watu Pinawetengan is located at Pinawetengan Village, which is about 100 minutes from the city of Manado. The road is good enough, but at some point, it is a little bit narrow. It will not be a problem unless there is another car moving from opposite directions.

If you want to use public transportation instead, the bus is available at Karombasan Terminal. Take a public bus with the route of Tondano for $1.1. From Tondano Terminal, get a smaller public car that goes to Tompaso for only $0.4. Tell the driver that you want to go to Watu Pinawetengan so he could drop you off at the location.

The View to See During the Trip to Watu Pinawetengan (Source: thearoengbinangproject.com. Credit: Aroeng Binang)
The View to See During the Trip to Watu Pinawetengan
(Source: thearoengbinangproject.com. Credit: Aroeng Binang)

Where to Stay

Both Sawangan and Pinawetengan Village does not have hotels or any kinds of accommodation for you to spend the night. Nearby locations that you can reserve a night stay is at Tondano, Tomohon, or Manado. Tondano and Tomohon are only 30 minutes from both sites. Meanwhile, Manado is about one hour. It is indeed further, but as a capital city, Manado has more choices of accommodation, more complete facilities, and more amenities. Here is the list of some of the hotels:

  • Lokon Boutique Resort
    • Location : Jalan Pariwisata, Kakaskasen Village, Tomohon 95362
    • Phone : +62 431 351203
    • Fax : +62 431 351636
    • Email : lokon_resort@yahoo.co.id
  • Onong’s Palace Bungalows
    • Location : Jalan Kimerengkali, Knilow Village, Dusun IV, Tomohon
    • Phone and Fax : +62 431 3157090
    • Email : info@tomohon-onong.com
    • Website : tomohon-onong.com
  • Highland Resort and Spa
    • Location : Kinilow, Jaga VI, Tomohon
    • Phone : +62 431 353333, or +62 431 353888
    • Fax : +62 431 353777
    • Website : highlandresort.info
  • City Hotel Tondano
    • Location : Jalan Danau Tondano 145, Luwuk, Tondano
    • Phone : +62 431 21374
  • Sumaru Endo Cottage
    • Location : Leleko Village, Jaga I, Tondano 95681
    • Phone and Fax : +62 431 3126300
    • Website : sumaruendo.com
  • Sintesa Peninsula
    • Location : Jalan Jend. Sudirman, Manado
    • Phone : +62 431 855008
    • Fax : +62 431 855101
    • Website : sintesapeninsula.com
  • Wisata Hotel
    • Location : Jalan Sam Ratulangi 7 Manado
    • Phone : +62 431 860908
    • Fax : +62 431 855114
    • Website : wisatahotelmanado.com
  • Rockrand Hotel
    • Location : Jalan Ahmad Yani 16 No.1  Manado
    • Phone : +62 431 878721, 858805
    • Fax : +62 431 858804
    • Email : rockrand_hotel@telkom.net


Waruga Sawangan

Waruga is stone sarcophagi. During the ancient time of Minahasa, the body of dead people will be put inside Waruga in a squatting position, similar to the position of a fetus in mother’s womb.  Waruga consist of two elements; the box and the top cover. Both elements are made from whole hard stone. The top cover has the shape similar to a roof so the whole Waruga looks like a house.

Waruga is then engraved with beautiful ornaments that represent the social status and profession of the deceased. If the ornament is a human, then the deceased was used to be a leader. If it is a cow, then the deceased was a hunter. One Waruga sometimes is used to keep more than one dead body. Maximum capacity of Waruga is about 12 people, usually from the same family. The lines carved at the side of top cover in Waruga shows how many dead bodies are kept inside it.

The Ornaments Engraved at the Top Cover (Source: Flickr. Credit: sndgrss)
The Ornaments Engraved at the Top Cover
(Source: Flickr. Credit: sndgrss)

At the entrance of the site, there is a relief wall that tells a story about how to make Waruga and how to use it. There are about 114 Waruga in this site. Not all of those Waruga were found at the site. Some of those were found scattered in Minahasa Peninsula, but then are moved to this Sawangan site to keep them safe. It is estimated that Waruga culture was from the 1600 AD.


Watu Pinawetengan

Watu Pinawetengan is a unique megalithic stone that was found with a hand-made script carved in a stone. The stone is about four meters long and two meters tall. The shape of this stone is similar to a human shape in a bending position. But some people think it is more like the geological shape of Minahasa district.

According to history, the stone and the script was used by the Minahasa ancestors to divide the area of Minahasa to its nine sub-districts. This decision was taken after the descendants gathered and had long discussion. Literally, the word “Watu Pinawetengan” means “The Stone of Division”. The agreement was all written in the stone script even though no one can really understand what the script was telling about. If you look at the script, you will see some strange writings and pictures of human, genitals, and lines.

The Stone of Watu Pinawetengan (Source: id.geoview.info. Credit: Ferrij Lumoring)
The Stone of Watu Pinawetengan
(Source: id.geoview.info. Credit: Ferrij Lumoring)

For Minahasa people, Watu Pinawetengan is a sacred stone. Many people would sometimes visit this place to pray to God. Entering the area where the stone is kept, you are supposed to take off your footwear to keep the purity of the place and the stone. Every January 3rd, a scared ceremonial is held annually. Every July 7th, there will be a cultural event that showcases traditional performing arts of Minahasa.

Visiting archaeological sites can bring you a wonderful experience. You would know how it feels to live at the ancient era. Each region surely has different way of life in the past. By visiting Waruga Sawangan and Watu Pinawetengan, you surely will know how life was in Minahasa during the ancient times.