Ruins of Megalithic sites are everywhere all around the world. There are Stonehenge in England, Moai monument in Easter Island, Carnac Stone in France and many more. But in Indonesia, it’s not only the megaliths that exist. The megalithic culture itself is still practiced in some places of the country.
In Flores island, there is a small community that still pays homage to the ancient culture. They live in a forested slope of Mt. Inerie in a remote village called Bena. It is located in Bajawa area, only 18 km to the south of the downtown.
Visiting this village is like taking a look at a living prehistoric museum. Everything about the Stone Age you learn from the history books can be easily found here. As soon as you enter the village area, traditional wooden houses with thatched roof are seen standing linearly on terraced ground. And if you look at them closer, skulls and horns of water buffaloes and pig jaws are seen decorating every veranda. The more the skulls displayed, the higher is the family’s social status.
All those houses are built facing the central space of the village where all megaliths are mainly located. Two most important features are Nga’du and Bhaga, symbols of the villagers’ ancestors. Nga’du resembles a shape of an umbrella and is dedicated to the male ancestors while Bhaga, miniature of local traditional house, is for the female ones.
Around the main monuments are various megalithic properties. Nabe, a local name for menhir, serves as the ancestral tomb stones. The absence of name and year on the stones implies that Nabe can be hundreds of years. Another megalith you can find here is Lengi, a huge flat stone that becomes a place for locals to discuss communal problems.
These days, most people in Bena village are Catholics. Though so, megalithic culture are continuously practiced. Some traditional ceremonies are still held with animals as the sacrifice. Every year on 15th January, villagers celebrate their new year during which Bena becomes alive with traditional music and dance.
Aside from the culture, Bena is attractive due to its beautiful surrounding. There is a viewpoint at the end of the village that offers a stunning bird’s-eye view of the entire city of Bajawa, Mt. Inerie and Savu sea.
How to Get There
By private vehicle, it takes 7-8 hours to get to Bena village from Labuan Bajo airport. And if you depart from the town of Bajawa, it only takes less than one hour via Transflores highway to the south.
You may also take Flores’ full music angkot (public transport) if you fancy to experience the island’s real impression. Absorb the fresh air and enjoy the Indonesia songs as the car drives along mountain slope dotted with local coffee plantation.