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This small village in the south central region of today's Manggarai district was once the ceremonial heart of the Manggarai kingdom and one large traditional house still remains -- the others have succumbed to the stresses of time.
Both men and women have to don an ikat sarong to enter this site. Once you're appropriately dressed, a local guide (who likely won't speak much English) will show you around the house, and point out the impressive carved wooden slabs that represent the symbols of Todo. The Todo clan ruled Manggarai's south prior to the arrival of the Dutch, and built nine "mbaru niang" or drum houses in their royal village.
The house you see today, built of palm and wood, was reconstructed in 1992, and is likely due for another once-over. Stop to admire the five impressive wooden carvings over the door, which feature womb motifs. The most interesting aspect of Todo likely is the mysterious gendang tutung drum that's secretly stored here -- reportedly crafted from the skin of a young girl, who was either killed by jealous suitors or by her own studying-abroad father (depending on which version you get). It only emerges on special occasions, though rumour has it that a big enough cash gift can induce the Todo guide to bring it out -- we didn't try this.
The lovely "Waringin" tree at the front of the old stone pathways in front of the surviving drum house makes for striking photographs, and you'll also see some ageing British cannons. If you can't make it all the way up to Wae Rebo, this is a fascinating introduction to traditional Manggarai architecture.
It's located 36 kilometres from Ruteng and it takes about two hours to reach from there. It's an easy detour from the road to or from Wae Rebo.
By Faine Greenwood
Last updated on 27th May, 2014.