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Explore North Sumatra, Indonesia

Indonesia is also known as an adventurous country. So as its unforgettable ambience. One of them is North Sumatra Province, which is the gate of tourist destination (DTW) in western part of Indonesia.

Surrounded by rich tropical natural resources, North Sumatra has spectacular panoramas. Amongst them is Bukit Barisan Highland, lush green rice field, colorful reef, and other interesting tourism object. Its short distance to Malaysia and Singapore make this province an interesting tourist destination for foreign visitor.

Sumatra is the biggest second island in Indonesia. Located near Asia continent, geographically and historically. North Sumatra is located between Malaka Straight at the east, and Indonesia Ocean at the west.

It keep on growing as tourist destination area for alternative sport like rafting, kayaking, surfing, mountain bike, diving and others.

The province covered 71.680 km areas, consist of lowland of mangroves forest on the east and mountainous land that build almost two-thirds Sumatra land. You can also find the world largest volcanic lake known as Danau Toba. This nature differences create such a spectacular view.

North Sumatera Place of Interest

Berastagi, Karo

Berastagi, the hill of Gundaling
Berastagi, the hill of Gundaling (Source : tripdomestik.com)

Berastagi situated at cool air mountainous land, 1.300 meter above sea level. From Medan, the distance is 66 kilometer and can be reached within 1,5 hour journey. Under Dutch colonialism era, Berastagi was used as refreshment resort. Now Berastagi become a comfortable holiday destination object. Surrounded by two active volcanoes, Sibayak (2.172 meter) and Sinabung Mountain, turning it into a fertile land.

Berastagi is main tourist object on Karo Land. Beside the cool air, we can also enjoy beautiful scenery of green lush farm land. As one of vegetable and fruit producer area, Berastagi is also known by the city of markisa and sweet orange.

Bukit Lawang, Langkat

Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang, Langkat (Source : analisadaily.com)

Bukit Lawang is spontaneously developed tourism area. It means that it natural attraction able to attract visitor to visit this place. Tourism development here started with establishment of the first orangutan rehabilitation in Sumatra on early 1980’s. This rehabilitation center gives a guarantee that visitor will be able to see orangutan. That makes Bukit Lawang even more famous.

Since long time ago, this place known by foreigners as tropical rainforest tourist attraction. There are less than five places on this earth that has tropical rainforest tourist attraction. Bukit Lawang is one of the best on this field. Its nature view dominated by valley, trees and clear watered river.

Lau Kawar Lake, Karo

Lau Kawar Lake
Lau Kawar Lake (Source : detik.com)

This lake located at the feet of Sinabung Mount, Karo Land, around 50 km from Medan. Compare to Toba Lake that reach to 1.265 km², Lau Kawar lake that only 200 hectares is almost nothing. But Lau Kawa actually has the same charm as world famous Toba Lake.

The first impression when visiting this place is a warm welcome by calm and clear water accompanied by cool breeze air. This beauty will be more enchanting if you stood at the edge of the lake. This lake also surrounded by thick forest, which become something rare in the buzz of illegal logging.

Lau Kawar Lake at Kuta Gugung Village, Simpang Empat District, Karo Regency, is one of two lakes on Leuser Ecosystem Area (KEL), beside Marpunge Lake.

This lake is one of the main gates for mountain climbers to reach Sinabung Mountain. This highest mountain on North Sumatra with 2.451 meter height, is one of climbers favorite mountain.

Beside that, Deleng (hill) Lancuk located around Lau Kawar Lake can also used as tracking track for tourist who does not want the difficulties on climbing Sinabung Mountain. And the terrain around this lake can be a favorite place to camp on the way to climb Sinabung Mountain.

Toba Lake

Toba Lake
Toba Lake (Source : kompas.com)

Toba Lake is a 100km x 30km volcanic lake in North Sumatra, Indonesia. In the middle of it, there is an island name Samosir Island. Toba Lake has become main tourism object aside from Bukit Lawang and Nias.

It is estimated that Toba Lake was created when there were an explosion around 73.000 – 75.000 years ago and considered as the latest super volcano eruption. Bill Rose and Craig Chesner from Michigan Technological University estimate that volcanic substance erupted by this mountain as much as 2800 km3, with 800 km3 consist of ignimbrite stone and 2000 km3 volcanic ash, taken away by wind to the West.

This eruption cause mass death on a few species, followed by extinction. According to some DNA evidence, this eruption also curtail human population until left only around thousands. After the explosion, created a caldera which later filled with water and become what is now known as Toba Lake. The upward pressure by magma create Samosir Island.

Tjong A Fie Building, Medan

Tjong A Fie Building
Tjong A Fie Building (Source : wikipedia.org)

This old building portray the culture and persistence of Chinese ethnic that inhabit Deli Land since hundred years ago. This old building located at Kesawan (Tapkongstraat) belong to Tjong A Fie, close friend of Sultan Deli. He is Chinese Major in Medan, the first millionaire in Sumatra.

In 1870, Tjong A Fie and his brother, Tjong Yong Hian leave Moy Hian village, Kanton, Chinaland to explore Deli Land as a contract coolie on tobacco plantations. These siblings have a very strong sense of business. They opened a plantation and stayed at Labuhan Deli. There, he also opened a shop named Ban Yun Tjong. Tjong A Fie knows exactly what the Chinese coolie and other transmigrant needs when they first arrive at Deli Land, so that just in a while he become a tycoon. Up to now, Tjong A fie building still erects tall and become his offspring residence.

Gundaling, Karo

Gundaling, Karo
Gundaling, Karo (Source : waspada.co.id)

Gundaling is a hill with height around 1.575 meter above sea level, 3 km from Berastagi. Visitor can walk on foot or using sado (traditional transportation, a cart drawn by a horse) to reach this hill. On this hill, visitor can see a beautiful garden, place to relax and also small pathway to jog while go around top of Gundaling hill. From top of the hill, can be enjoyed Sibayak and Sinabung volcano fantastic view.

Maimun Palace, Medan

Maimun Palace, Medan
Maimun Palace, Medan (Source : tripadvisor.com)

Maimun Palace originally written Maimoon, is Sultan Deli’s palace. This majestic palace stood tall on Brigjen Katamso street dominated by yellow color, known as royal color and also Malay typical color. This palace was built by Deli’s Monarchy Sultan, Sultan Maimun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam Shah, spread on 2.77 meter square land and consume more than one million Dutch gulden on 1888. Its designer is an Italian. This two storey palace divided into three part: main building, left wing, and right wing.

This palace became Deli’s Sultanate center. As a note, Deli’s Sultanate dynasty started by Muhammad Dalik which become Yang di-Pertuan Haru on 1630 on Aceh Sultan’s assignation. After he passed away, his son named Panglima Parunggit continue his duty as Yang di-Pertuan Haru and Deli commander. Then Panglima Parunggit’s son, Tengku Panglima Padrap replace with Emir Deli monarchy title (1700 – 1720). When Panlima Padrat passed away, his second son, Tengku Panglima Gandar Wahid snatches Emir Position from his eldest brother. Current Deli’s Sultan is Othman Mahmud Ma’mun Padrap Perkasa Alam Shah, crowned on May 1998.

Enter the drawing room (royal audience hall) of Maimun Palace, visible a yellow dominated throne. Crystal chandelier lighting up the palace, as an evidence of European influence. This influence can also be seen on palace furniture like chair, toilet table, cupboard, and also push door leads to royal audience hall. This 412 meter room used for Sultan Deli crowning ceremony or other custom events. Royal audience hall is also used as a place for Sultan to accept prostration from his offspring on Islam big days. Walk in deeper, there are 20 rooms upstairs and another 20 rooms downstairs exclude 4 bathrooms, warehouse, kitchen and also a prison on base ground.

Its architecture is a fusion of Islam tradition and European culture. It is said that some of the construction material was brought from Europe, such as tile, marble, and terrazzo. Dutch styled architecture can be clearly seen on wide and tall windows and doors. While Islam influence visible on palace eaves curve. That boat capsize-like curve is known as Persian curve, often seen on Middle East, Turkey and Indian build.

Maimun Palace is one of the most beautiful building in Medan. It is accessible, whether from Kualanamu Airport (around 10 km) and Belawan Harbor (around 28 km). This historical building open for public everyday from 08.00 am to 17.00 p.m.

Lingga Village, Karo

Lingga Village, Karo
Lingga Village, Karo (Source : tribunnews.com)

Lingga Village located around 1200 above sea level, approximately 15 km from Berastagi. Lingga is a unique Batak Karo village, filled with custom house that estimated aged 250 years, but the conditions are still very well. Those houses inhabited by 5-6 families that still tied by kinship relationship. This Karo custom house does not have room divider. Cultural tourism object can be found on Lingga Village, 16 km southern Berastagi. The roads conditions is very nice and public transport widely available

Lingga Village has traditional building like: custom house, jambur, geriten, lesung, sapo page and Karo museum. Geriten, used as certain family member corpse storage place. Karo’s custom house has a very specific characteristic and shape. On the inside of it, there is a big compartment with no rooms. One house occupied by 8 or 10 families. Traditional hut with about 2 meter height supported by wood pole usually consist of 16 pieces.

Hindu Temple Shri Mariamman, Medan

Sri Mariamman Temple
Shri Mariamman Temple (Source : wikimedia.org)

This temple located at KH. Zainul Arifin street, Medan. Apart from having unique and has a high value of art, this building is also visualize that there are Indian race offspring in Medan since long time ago.

This temple was built on 1884 for Indians who came from Madras, South India. It is neighboring with Indiantown, known as Kampung Keling or Kampung Madras. This temple named Shri Mariamman refers to the Goddess of Earth. Visitor usually come here to monumentalize the particular design of this building.

Lau Debuk Debuk, Karo

Lau Debuk Debuk
Lau Debuk Debuk (Source : tiket.com)

Lau Debuk-debuk is a village that has natural hot spring water rich with sulfur, many visited by visitors to enjoy the warmth of sulfur water, embraced by cool mountain air. This village located around 10 km from Bandar Baru to Berastagi, at the bottom of Mount Sibayak, approximately 2.100 km above sea level. Hot spring water emerges from the crack of lava line at the southern of Sibayak mount slopes which then collected in one big reservoir.

This hot spring water managed by Pemerintah Daerah Dati II Karo and local people. There are five pools with water temperature 350 °C and the weather temperature around 270 °C. On this village, there are a few pools like this in the village, such as Sibayak hot spring water, managed by local people and largely visited by tourist. Most of the climbers who came here, release their tiredness by soaking themselves up in this pool.

Mesjid Raya Al Mashun, Medan

Mesjid Raya Al Mashun, Medan
Mesjid Raya Al Mashun, Medan (Source : wikipedia.org)

Another Sultan Deli heritage, Mesjid Raya Al Mashun which located near Maimun Palace. This mosque started to built on 1 Rajab 1324 or 21st August 1906 and finished on 10th September 1909 by Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah.

Some of the decoration material made in Italy and German and reputedly it become one complex with Maimun Palace. The mosque which was design by Dingemans from Amsterdam (shaped symmetrically if it seen from all four sides of the mosque) resemble style from Middle East, India and Spain. This mosque built octagonal shaped and has 4 wings which look like main building but with smaller size. Total area of this building is 5.000 .

Nias Island

Nias Island, Nias
Nias Island (Source : northniastourism.com)

Nias Island situated 125 km western Sumatra Island. This island inhabited majority by Nias tribe (Ono Niha) which still preserve megalithic culture. This area is an important tourist object.

Oceans that surround Nias Island very suitable for water sport such as surfing and diving. Its society also has a very unique culture, which in return will enrich the visitors knowledge. This island has a megalithic history and considered as one of the oldest megalithic culture in Indonesia. Island with 5.318 k inhabited by 800.000 person.

Sipiso-piso, Karo

Sipiso-piso, Karo
Sipiso-piso, Karo (Source : semedan.com)

Sipiso-piso at Tongging Area, approximately 24 km northen Kabanjahe, is a magnificent waterfall.

It water flows from steep canyon wall and fall from 120 meter height to a river that flow to Toba Lake. View of Tao Silalahi at northern Toba Lake is very charming if enjoyed from this spot.

TAHURA (Taman Hutan Raya Bukit Barisan), Karo

TAHURA (Taman Hutan Raya Bukit Barisan), Karo
TAHURA / Taman Hutan Raya Bukit Barisan,  (Source : pariwisatasumut.com)

Tongkoh National Park named Taman Hutan Raya (Tahura) Barisan Hill, located around 6 km before Berastagi, on the way to Medan. This park has a zoo with unique huts and elephant riding for children. Also available a pathway leading to forest, for visitors who willing to do some research or only wants to see forest plant, wild orchid, big ferns, many kind of wild trees covered by moss and mushroom, assorted type of butterflies, birds, monkeys, etc.

Batang Gadis National Park, Mandailing Natal

Batang Gadis National Park, Mandailing Natal
Batang Gadis National Park, Mandailing Natal (Source : youtube.com)

Batang Gadis National Park is a national park at Mandailing Natal (Madina) Regency, North Sumatra, located 99° 12’ 45” BT to 99° 47 10” and 0° 27’ 15” to 1° 01’ 57” LU and administratively this area surrounded by 68 villages at 13 regency at Mandailing Natal Regency. This national park named after the main river which flow trough Madina Regency, Batang Gadis River.

This park cover area of 108.000 hectare or 26% from Madina total area which located at 300 to 2.145 meter above sea level with the highest point Sorik Merapi Mount.

Trough SK No 126/Menhut-II/2004 Forestry Minister, TNBG legalize as National Park. TNBG consist of Protected Forest Area, Limited Production Forest and Permanet Forest Production. Over function Protected Forest Area reach to 101.500 hectare, consist of Protected Forest Area Register 4 Batang Gadis I, Register 5 Batang Gadis II komplex I and II , Register 27 Batang Natal I, Register 28 Batang Natal II, Register 29 Bantahan Hulu and Register 30 Batang Parlapuan I which has been set as Protected Forest Area since Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, 1921 – 1924. While over function Production Forest Area covers area of former HPH PT. Gruti, as far as 5.500 hectare and PT. Aek Gadis Timber cover 1.000 hectare.

Main purpose of establishing this national park is to save animals and natural habitat. TNBG is also become a symbol of local wisdom acknowledgement on managing the forest.

One of local society traditional wisdom proved by establishment of the restricted forest is one of local wisdom examples that still exist up to now.

This restriction is also very important remembering rate of natural damage on this province has reached a very endangering level. Based on Forestry Department data on 2003, the damage on this area reach up to 3,8 millions per year. Forest damage on North Sumatra alone reach to 76 thousand hectare per year within 1985 – 1998.

Gunung Leuser National Park, Karo

Gunung Leuser National Park, Karo
Gunung Leuser National Park, Karo (Source : gunungleuser.or.id)

Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL) known as the rare Sumatrans Tiger habitat and also the place for elephant, Sumatrans Rhinoceros and Rafflesia Arnoldii flower.

Iman Tourism Park, Dairi

Iman Tourism Park, Dairi
Iman Tourism Park, Dairi (Source : irisindonesia.com)

Apart for being famous because of its fertile soil and the beauty of its natural panorama of the world famous Toba Lake, Batak land is also known to have many new tourism objects that pity to be missed.

Located at Dairi Regency, around 152 km western Medan, recently largely promoted Iman Tourism Park which integrates religious elements and nature beauty. Iman Tourism Park situated above Sitinjo Hills, and it is the only tourism object in Indonesia which integrate religious elements and nature beauty. At this tourism park, there are five place of worship based on religions approved in Indonesia, and on 13 hectare land, one also can see the miniature of historical reliquary of each religions that worth a visit.

At Iman Tourism Park, you can also find river tours and nature and also lodging for visitor who wish to stay overnight here. Visitors who visit Toba Lake can continue their journey to Iman Tourism Park because it can be reach within one hour journey.

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