Friday, July 02, 2010

Bukit Kasih, Kawangkoan

I guess the epitome of religion/faith-based tourist attraction in North Sulawesi would be Bukit Kasih in Kanonang, Kawangkoan district. When I first arrived in Manado, there were several posters stating "Torang Samua Basudara", which I guess the literal translation would be "we are all brothers and sisters". This philosophy would be the core foundation of religious tolerance in North Sulawesi which I find very, very impressive. There's this Western view that Indonesia is a terrorist-ridden country, and just because the majority of the population are Muslims, there's no room for other people of different religion to practice their faith. That view is absolutely wrong, and Bukit Kasih is a perfect example of harmony between the religions in Indonesia.

Since Bukit Kasih is basically a hill, a sulfuric hill to be exact, there are two stops that you can visit when you hike that hill. The first is the area where they built five praying buildings, Buddhism, Christian Protestant, Catholic, Hinduism and Islam, side by side. On the cliff, they carved a depiction of a Minahasan ancestor so it adds an interesting aspect to the site. The place also had several Minahasan statues and rumor has it, on some days the statue can move and dance on its own (tourist guide myths - although I must admit the statues were creepy). The second stop would be a giant cross, overlooking the surrounding area. You can see Lake Tondano and several agro-tourism spots that circles Bukit Kasih from above.

A word of advice, don't forget to bring water and perhaps some snacks when you hike the hill. We had no clue of how high the hill was and I tell you, I was out of breath and needed to take quite a long break when I reached the top because it is indeed pretty high.

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