Waruga are stone sarcophagi used by the Minahasa tribes to place their dead in a squatting position. The Waruga park is located in the village of Sawangan, and at the Airmadidi sub-district, some 40 kilometers from Manado.
Based on local belief, these graves are made of carved stone that are shaped like a house, a tradition kept since 1600AD. The graves vary, depending on the profession or social status of the person buried.
There are 144 “dotu” or clans gathered together at the waruga park in Sawangan, whose original locations were previously spread out throughout several villages in the Minahasa district, but these have now been gathered in the waruga compound at Sawangan and nearby Airmadidi.
Since this heritage which originates from the megalithic era is notable, several heads of state have come to view them, among others Queen Juliana and Prince Bernard, as well as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and many more.
In this compound, there are no food or drink sellers. Therefore, it is best to bring along your own food and drink when visiting this site. All food should be consumed outside the cemetery.
There are no shops selling souvenirs in this cemetery compound. Similarly, the Waruga park at Airmadidi, which is about 10 minutes drive from Sawangan, also does not have any shops selling souvenirs.
No hotel is available near this location. If you like to stay overnight, you can stay at Tondano, which is about 30 minutes drive from Sawangan. Alternatively, it will take only about one hour to return to Manado from Airmadidi.
At the entrance to the Park you can see reliefs at the right and left walls. These reliefs show the process of how in ancient times the Waruga was made. At the Waruga Museum located right beside the entrance to the site you will find artifacts found in the graves.
The Museum has shelves displaying gold, silver and copper bracelets, necklaces, ear rings plates and pots. These ancient artifacts are unique for their form and carvings in stone. The Waruga sarcophagi are not dug into the ground but stand above ground at one meter wide and one to two meters tall. These sarcophagi contain bodies in a squatting position and are covered by stone roofs that resemble house roofs.
Since the park is in fact a cemetery, you can walk around to explore every corner of this tourist site. A cemetery for the local community is situated near the main entrance. The gate is always locked by the Waruga guard who lives near the location. It is best to visit this site between 08.00 am to 06.00 pm.
This Waruga site is located some 40 kilometers from Manado, capital city of the province of North Sulawesi. To reach this location, you can take a private car or taxi from Manado, which will take less than one hour.
If you are not familiar with this place, it is best to ask people around.