THE GATE OF THE RISING SUN
- FLORES and BEYOND
The province of east Nusa Tenggara comprises the string
of island shown on the map as an inverted pyramid,
referred to by some as the Gate of the rising sun.
According to legend, these islands were created when
clumps of earth were accidentally scattered by the gods
when they were creating the larger islands of the
Indonesian archipelago. Centuries ago, ships from all
over the world visited these islands in search of
species and sandalwood
East nusa tenggara consist of hundreds of islands, 246
of which have names, while 320 are unnamed. This group
of islands is located between latitudes 118'55' and
125'01’ east and longitudes 8'03’ and 11'08’ south.
East Nusa tenggara has a dry tropical climate. The
weather is influenced by the monsoon winds. The rainy
season falls between the month December January, march-
April, and dry season may – June and October – November.
The area of east Nusa tengara occupies an area of
49.879.98 square kilometers, and has a population of
3.500.000. it is divided into 12 regencies and one
The people living in this area speak various regional
languages. Houses are designed with high conical roofs.
East Nusa Tenggara’s ikat textiles are world famous. Its
traditions and artistic expressions are unique.
Roughly 57 percent of the territory is hilly, with
cliffs. The lowlands lie generally around the beaches
and river mouths. The tourist attractions of East nusa
tenggara are its island, seas, bays, beaches and
mountains, tradition, arts and legends.
There is a saying ’’Ulu gheta leja geju eko ghale bajo
bima’’ which means the head faces the sunrise (in the
east) in east flores, and the tail towards the sunset
(in the west) in labuan bajo, manggarai, west flores.
This metaphor symbolizes a dragon, lying with its head
at the eastern end of flores, and its tail in west
manggarai, or Nusa nipa, the name of flores island
before the arrival of the Portuguese.
Manggarai, whose capital is Ruteng, was once
ruled by the kings of Bima. The influences of Bima and
Goa are evident in prevailing titles, such as karaeng,
and in the manner of dress.
The shape of the roofs, with the buffalo horn symbol,
may be an element inherited from the Minangkabau. The
cool town of Ruteng lies at the foot of a mountain. It
can be reached by air from Denpasar and Kupang or
overland from the western part of the island via Labuan
bajo, or from the eastern part via Ende - Bajawa.
In previous centuries, Reo was a part of considerable
trading potentials. Beside the famed komodo lizard, the
area has many attractions to offer tourists, such as the
Caci dance, a wildlife reserve, and archeological caves.
Liang Bua is a cave 13 kilometers from Ruteng, which
not so long ago caused minor sensation due to the
finding of rare prehistorically fossils.
Ulumbu, lying far behind the mountains and near
the southern coast, has a geyser, spurting water 15
meters high into the sky. The places, however, is not
easy to reach.
Caci dances is an interesting dance. Two warriors
wearing traditional clothes face each other, each
holding a shield in the left hand and a lash whose tip
is covered with dried buffalo skin, in the right. This
dance is accompanied by gong beats, and preceded by
chants, Sung by males.
Horse races can be seen in karo village, south of
Ruteg. In former times, such races drew participants
from as far as Bajawa, Boawae and even Ende. Magic is
said to be often involved. Usually held during big
Mount Pocoranaka is the highest mountain on
flores island, and practically unexplored.
Ranamese is a big lake in the mountains. The air is cool
and sometimes misty. Good for relaxing, water sports,
fishing. Some lodgings and modest restaurants are
Labuhan Bajo is the jumping board for tours to
the Komodo National Park and other areas in east Nusa
Batu Cermin Cave is five Kilometers from the town
Labuhan Bajo. The grotto is 75 by 75 meters large and
contains stalactites and stalagmite. Some tunnels are
arrow and dark but in other sunlight falls.
Historic Ende, Ende was the site of a kingdom
that excised around the end of the 18th century. The
name today refers to capital of ende regency, which
includes the autonomous territories of Lio and Ende. The
people of the area are therefore known as Lio-Ende
KeliMutu is Holy Mountain with three crater
lakes, filled with water of different colors. Far
removed from the civilized would, utter silence reigns
around these lakes. The 1.690 meters high mountain, 60
kilometers from Ende was “discovered” by a Dutchneb van
suchtelen and Le Roux, who came to explore it after
hearing stories about the mountain which the local
people regarded as the location of Heaven and Hell.
According to legend, the man kelimutu was punished by
the gods due to his cruel treatment of the weak. The
story presumably refers to the giant Ata Polo Ria, who
ill treated the orphans Ata Koo Fai and Ata Nuwa Muri,
as well as the old man Ata Bupu. As a punishment the
gods put the giant to death.
Those three lakes are believed by certain people who
still adhere to the old ancestral beliefs to be Heaven
and Hell. The guardians holding the key of the gates are
Konde and Ratu. The color of the water that fills the
lakes constantly changes. As a result, the red like is
now light-green; the green one has turned black, while
the dark blue one has not changed.