The epic film “Di bawah Lindungan Ka’bah” which was released in 2011 describes the natural beauty of Minangkabau and won the prestigious E-Guardian Award (2012) for the category of Best Leading Actress and Praised Artistic Stylist at the Bandung Film Festival in 2012. The Gadang House building in the film scene, which is based on the novel of the same name by Buya Hamka, was not made solely for filming purposes but is real. The location is in Sungai Pagu sub-district, South Solok district, about 150 km from the city of Padang, the capital of West Sumatra.
The Thousand Houses Gadang area is a manifestation of the Minangkabau community village in the past with hundreds of Minangkabau traditional houses lined along the village road. Formerly in this area stood the Sungai Pagu kingdom centered in Pasir Talang South Solok around the 16th century. The Alam Surambi Sungai Pagu kingdom stretched from Surian to the XII Koto (sub-district Sangir) region. One of the relics of this kingdom is the area of The Thousand Houses Gadang. The Sungai Pagu Kingdom is inhabited by several Minangkabau sub-tribes such as Malayu, Bariang, Durian, Kampai, Panai, Tigo Lareh, Koto Kaciak, and Sikumbang. Each tribe has a Gadang House. The diversity of tribes that inhabit the area of The Thousand Houses Gadang. This shows that the area has maintained tolerance since ancient times.
In 2008 the former State Minister for Women’s Empowerment, Meutia Hatta, visited this area. She dubbed southern Solok as the Land of Thousand Houses Gadang. Since then this royal house has become a tourist attraction with the full name “Kawasan Saribu Rumah Gadang Surambi Sungai Pagu”. However, the actual number of buildings according to the Local Tourism and Sports Office is only 174 units.
The Gadang House building looks artistic with 4-6 pointed roofs similar to buffalo horns (Minang dialect: gonjong). The walls and wooden floors wrapped in carvings adorn the ornaments of the Gadang House. All the buildings in the Thousand Houses Gadang area are more than 100 years old. Even the Gajah Maram Gadang House was built in 1794. It belongs to the Melayu Buah Anau tribe with Datuk Lelo Panjang as a tribal chief. Until now this building is still actively used for when there are traditional ceremonies such as the appointment of a tribal chief (Datuk), deliberations of traditional uncles, weddings, or pilgrimages. Most of the Minangkabau families who live in this Gadang House still keep family heirlooms such as the king’s scepter, bridal accessories, woven mats, etc.
Many of these Gadang Houses are currently uninhabited, possibly because they were abandoned by the families of their owners. Therefore, the local government took the initiative to empower this building to be used as a homestay for guests. Apart from being a place to rest, the visitors can participate in the daily activities of the homeowner, including learning to cook the typical culinary of South Solok.
You will be served a dinner dish on the floor of the house (bajamba tradition). There is also a martial arts demonstration and a chrysanthemum performance that accompanies visitors through the night. In the morning you can rent an onthel bike to get around enjoying the panorama around sub-district Sungai Pagu. If you want a challenge, please try white water rafting with used inner tubes at Tubing Ducati along the Pulakek river, located in Alam Pauh Duo village. You can also visit the hot springs or water boom Sapan Maluluang and Pinang Awan Peak which are both located in the village of Pinang Awan.
On 22-24 March 2019, the local government of South Solok Regency held the Thousand Houses Gadang Festival which was the second time after the previous year in 2017 around this area. This festival has the theme “Manyulam Kain Jolong” which showcases the customs and culture of South Solok. The visitors were presented with performances of traditional music, dances, exhibitions of historical collectibles, Pencak silat, and closed with traditional drama arts. There is also an essay writing competition which is followed by school students.
You can also see the area of the Thousand Houses Gadang from the Songket Tower a height of 25 meters. On top of this tower, you will see a panorama view covering winding roads, rice fields, rivers, and Mount Kerinci from a distance. In 2017, the Thousand Houses Gadang area was named the Most Popular Traditional Village in Indonesian Pesona Award.
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