Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Toba Lake


World famous is the crater Toba Lake in the Batak highlands; approximately five hours drive from Medan. Toba Lake is the largest lake in South East Asia and also one of the most spectacular, surrounded by tall mountains and with the large island of Samosir in the middle. If we descend from the mountain we see the lake glittering in all its beauty. The Dutch writer Rudy Kousbroek even called Toba Lake, 'the most beautiful place on earth'. Most visitors stay on the peninsula of Tuk Tuk on Samosir, named after the linguist Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk. In general people stay several days on Samosir to discover the island, to visit traditional Batak villages, to swim in the lake and go to the hot springs in Pangururan.

The centerpiece of North Sumatra, Lake Toba's bracing climate and magnificent panoramas clear the mind and soothe the soul. For decades a magnet from regional and foreign visitors alike, Toba has developed into a full-featured highland resort while retaining the rustic charm and relaxed ambiance that define Toba's attraction. Formed by a stupendous prehistoric volcanic explosion, the 100 km long lake is the largest in Southeast Asia and one of the deepest and the highest in the world. The drama of that cataclysmic birth persist in 500 meter cliffs dropping into the blue-green waters, surrounded by steep, pine covered sloped, the climate is fresh and pleasant, with just enough rain to support the lush vegetation.

Toba Lake is a 100kms x 30kms volcanic lake in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Toba Lake has become one of the main tourist attractions for a long time in North Sumatra apart from Bukit Lawang and Nias, visited by both domestic and foreign tourist.

The Origin of Toba LakeIt is estimated that Toba Lake was formed during a volcanic eruption about 73.000-75.000 years ago and which was the most recent super volcano eruption. Bill Rose and Craig Chesner from Michigan Technological University estimated that volcanic materials that were spewed out the mountain totaling 2800km3, with 800km3 ignimbrites rock and 2000km3 volcanic ash that is estimated was blown (wind) to the west for 2 weeks. This incident caused mass death (destruction) and to several species also causes extinction. According to some DNA proof, this eruption also shrinks the humankind population to around thousands back then.

After this eruption, a caldera was formed that was filled by water afterwards and now known as Toba Lake. The pressure from the dormant magma, which has not yet erupted, caused Samosir Island to emerge. The region that now known as Samosir Island originally was a peninsula that attached to the Sumatran mainland. In this peninsula the Netherlands built the water canal 10 m width.

For the first time visitors, going through Medan-Parapat route seeing a lake as big as that made Samosir appear like an amazing grand island. However, the island perspective will certainly faded with the increase in Toba plateau visitor, Nias and the other places in the south, through Medan-Berastagi route. Samosir occupied a central geographical position in the Toba plateau region. With the declaration of the Toba Samosir Regency (the inhabitants 302.000 lives, the area with wide of 3.440 km including the lake) it finally ascend from only a shadow into a Regency. Moreover, the width of Samosir Island exceed Singapore (647 km), in fact Toba Lake almost twice bigger than Singapore. The Samosir image in tourism books as the backpackers location must be changed because this historic place must restore the greatness of its past.

Legend of Toba Lake

Once upon a time, lived a young orphan farmer in the northern part of the Sumatran Island. This area was very dry. The young man lived from farming and fishing. One day he went fishing, he already fishing for half of the day but still not getting any fish yet. So he returned home for the day turns to night, but when he nearly left he saw a big beautiful golden fish, he then caught the fish and brought it home. He intended to cook the fish right away but watched the beauty of this fish he then cancelled his intention. He chose to keep it as pet, and then he placed it in a big pond and feed it. On the next day, like usual, he went to his farm, and on the noon he comeback home, to have lunch. But when he arrived in his house he was very startled for the meal had prepared to be eaten. He then fears that the fish might be stolen, and then hastily he ran to the back of his house.

However, the fish was still in place, for a long time he thinks, “Who cooks those meals”, but because his is very hungry, he ate those meals. But this incident continued to occur again repeatedly, every time he came home for lunch, the meals are prepared on the table. Then one day this young man made a strategy to find out who cooks those meals, the next day he then began to commence his strategy, he then hide around the trees close to his house. He was waiting for a long time, but the smoke in his kitchen still has not been seen, and when he then intended to return home, he began to see the smoke in the kitchen.

"Hey woman, who are you, and where are you came from?” the woman began to drop tears, and then the young man saw his fish was no longer in the pond. He asked the woman, “hey woman, where is the fish in that pond?” the Woman cried intensely, but this young man continued to ask and finally the woman answers, “I was the fish that was caught by you”. The young man then startled, but because he felt that he had hurt the feelings this woman, then he said, “Hey woman, did you want to become my wife??” the Woman then startled, he stay quiet, then the young man said “Why are you silent??” Then the woman said, “I wanted to become your wife. But with one condition.” ”What is the condition?” the young man quickly asked, the woman then said, “In the future if our child was born and grew, never even once you said that he/she was anakni Dekke (child of a fish) ”. The young man then agreed to that condition and swore he will never say it.

Then they were married and granted a child. When the child was 6 years old, this child turn to be very naughty. Then one day the mother told her child to deliver meals to his father field, the child then went to deliver rice to his father. But in the middle of the trip, this child was felt hungry, then the child opened food package for his father, and ate the food. After finished eating, the child then wrapped it back and continued the trip to his father's field. On arrival the child gave the food package to the father, the father was very happy, the father then sat and immediately opened the food package that was sent by his wife to be carried by his child. But he was very startled when he opened the package there is only bones remained. The father then asked his child “Hay my child, why there are only bones left in this package??” And the child answers,” In my trip I felt hungry, so I ate the food.” Listened to that the father was very angry, he then slap his child and said, "Botul maho anakni dekke (Why you child of a fish),". The child is then ran home crying and ask to his mother “Mak, Olo do na in dokkon amangi, botul do au anakni dekke? (Mother, is it true what father said, that I am a child from a fish?) ” Heard his child's words his mother was startled. While dropping tears and saying in her heart, “My husband has violated his swore, and now I must return to my place.” Then the sky was suddenly become dark followed with lightning, thunder, storm, and rain. The child and the mother disappeared, from their footprint emerged a spring that flowed water as swiftly as possible. Until this area was turned into a lake, that was named as “Tuba Lake” the lake without mercy, but because of the bataks was difficult to say “Tuba”, then this lake was mentioned as TOBA LAKE.

According to the local Citizen, the mother return as a huge fish (the lake guardian), and until today no one is able to measure the depth of this lake. Many tourists that tried to dive into the lake but never return. The lake depth in the book is only estimation not as a fact.

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