Cultural Heritage Sites - Southern Nias


Stone jumping (Hombo batu) in Bawömataluo village.

Researchers and tourists often ask the Museum about where to go to see examples of Nias cultural heritage. The answer is that there are many amazing places for visitors to see around Nias. Across the island there are over a thousand traditional houses and hundreds of megalith stones. In the south of Nias there are traditional villages where the culture is very much alive. Without a doubt the greatest number of heritage sites is located in the southern part of the island. This is an overview of cultural heritage sites in South Nias.

For information about how to get around on Nias and where to stay visit our tourism information website:

South Nias Regency (Kabupaten Nias Selatan)

South Nias Regency covers the bottom part of the Island and is the largest district on Nias. This is the most popular destination for tourists and the overwhelming majority of visitors are surfers heading for waves in Lagundri Bay. Apart from world-class surfing the south has also have some of Indonesia’s most spectacular cultural heritage sites with a number of traditional villages and megaliths within easy reach. 

Villages on Nias were tied together along clan lines in federations called öri's. The traditional units (öri’s) are not the same as today’s administrative units, but some closely resembles the old boundaries. In the southern tip of South Nias there were three large and powerful öri’s with descendants from the ancestors Mölö, Lalu and Zinö. They were known as Maniamölö, Onolalu and Mazinö. This is where the most traditional villages and the best preserved heritage sites can be found today.

Fanayama sub-district:

This is the area most popular with visitors because there are several large and well preserved traditional villages here that used to be part of the most powerful öri known as Maniamölö. Fanayama sub-district is located between Telukdalam and Sorake where there are many types of accommodation available and the traditional villages are only a short drive away.


Spectacular war-dances in Bawömataluo village. Photo courtesy of Agus Mendröfa.

  • Bawömataluo is the largest and the best preserved traditional village on Nias Island with over 140 traditional houses. It is sometimes referred to as the Kings Village. Rather than a king, there was a powerful tribal chieftain who ruled the immediate area from here. This village regularly receives visitors and locals perform the famous stone jumping (hombo batu) ceremony for a fee. Spectacular war dances are also sometimes performed here. Many of the wood carvers who make Nias art and handicraft live in this village.
  • Orahili Fau village is just a few hundred meters down the hill from Bawömataluo and can be accessed by stairs. This village is also very interesting with 70 traditional houses, many megaliths and a jumping stone.
  • Lahusa Fau village has 65 traditional houses. It is a couple of kilometers past Bawömataluo at the end of a narrow road.
  • Hili'amaetaniha village is one of the most traditional villages on Nias with 80 traditional houses. This village is special because there are very few modern houses here, which makes this one of the highlights of the living culture of South Nias. The village is located on top of a hill with spectacular views and is very accessible, only ten minutes’ drive from Sorake Beach.
  • Botohilitanö (Botohili) village has 32 traditional houses and is within walking distance up the hill from Sorake, where there are many guesthouses. Botohili has a mix of modern and old houses.
  • Siwalawa village was another traditional village past Bawömataluo village but most of it was destroyed by a landslide and fire. There are still a few interesting megaliths here.

Left: Stone jumping monument in Orahili village. Right: Megalith stone in Lahusa Fau village.

There are also a few abandoned village sites where there are still many interesting megaliths. These sites may be difficult to find without a local guide:

  • Hili'alaŵa: between Siwalawa and Hilimondregeraya.
  • Hilidadaluo: between Bawömataluo, Siwalawa and Hilimondregeraya.
  • Hilitotaö: near Orahili. People evicted from this village founded the village Hili'amaetaniha.

Maniamölö sub-district:


Chief's chair in Hilisimaetano the village. The armrest is a hand holding a gun.

On a day trip north of Sorake it is possible to visit four very interesting village that also used to belong to Maniamölö öri. It is recommended to go with a local guide as it can be hard to find the way and locals in this area are not as used to seeing outside visitors.

  • Hilisimaetanö village is one of the largest traditional villages in the South and it is located only 10 km north of Lagundri. Today part of the villages is modern but there are still some 70 traditional houses and several unique megaliths and sculptures in this village.
  • Hilimaniamölö village a few kilometres north of Sorake along the main road is very ‘modern’ since a road was built through the village. There are still 13 traditional houses and a few megaliths here making it worth a stop.

Further north along the main road is a small turn off (motorbike or four-wheel drive only) which leads to the three interesting but rarely visited villages. Look for a small concrete sign on the right side with the word wisata (tourism) on it.

  • Bawögosali village is located a few kilometres up a narrow and bumpy unsurfaced road. The village is well-kept and has 48 traditional houses.

Traditional houses in Bawogosali village.

  • Hilinawalö Fau village is located a few kilometres further up the hill. This is one of the best preserved villages on Nias. There are few modern houses here and over 60 traditional houses, with lots of tall and uniquely shaped megaliths. Due to a recent re-drawing of district borders, this village now belongs to Fanayama sub-district, but it is necessary to travel via Maniamölö sub-district to get here.
  • Onohondrö village lies on top of a steep hill at the end of the road. To reach the village walk up a set of steep stairs. The village is small but has 24 traditional houses including a beautiful but rather dilapidated Chiefs house (Omo Sebua). Due to a recent re-drawing of district borders, this village now belongs to Fanayama sub-district, but it is necessary travel via Maniamölö sub-district to get here. Onohondrö is not far from Siwalawa village near Bawömataluo. In the past it was only possible to reach this village on foot, usually by walking from the Bawömataluo area. Today most people reach this village by driving the long way around from the northern side. Many old maps only show the old way, which is the seldom used walking track from Bawömataluo.

Left: The Great House of a nobleman (Omo Zebua) in Onohondrö village. Right: Stone megalith in front of a Omo Zebua house in Hilinawalo Fau village.

There are also a few abandoned village sites in this area where there are some interesting megaliths. These may be difficult to find without a local guide:

  • Hili'amaigila: located up the mountain slope behind Bawogösali village.
  • Hilifalawu Satua: between Hilisimaetanö and So'onogeu villages. Many megaliths here are featured in Schröder’s famous book about Nias.

Telukdalam sub-district:

Telukdalam is the second largest town on Nias. Just north of town, about 30 minutes’ drive up the hills there are a few villages that used to belong to Onolalu öri.  Although small, this area is well worth a visit, even if just to see Hilimondregeraya village.


Stone ladder at the entrance to Hilinamö Zaoa village.

  • Hilimondregeraya village is one of the largest and best preserved traditional villages in the south. There are 130 traditional houses and a large newly renovated Chiefs House here. The Museum was very much involved in the restoration of this village.
  • Hilinamözaua village is large village a few kilometres away from Hilimondregeraya with 75 traditional houses. The road to this village can be very muddy after heavy rains.
  • Hilifalagö village is rather small and mixed up with modern houses, but is easy to get to as it’s on the way to Hilimondregeraya.
  • Hilifarono village is rather small and mixed up with modern houses.



The following villages have modernised to the point where they cannot be called traditional anymore. But researchers can still find a few interesting examples of megaliths here:

  • Hiligeho village
  • Bawölowalani village

There are also an abandoned village sites where there are still many interesting megaliths:

  • Hili'oluzua: between Hilifalagö and Hilimondregeraya village

Mazinö sub-district:


This area which used to belong to the Mazinö öri is located north-east of Telukdalam. The turn-off to the village is just north of Genasi viewpoint, along the main north-south road along the east coast. The most interesting village is this area is Hilinawalö Mazinö which lays at the end of a very rough six kilometer road:

  • Hilinawalö Mazinö village has a number of traditional houses and the second largest Chiefs house (Omo Sebua) on Nias Island.

Gomo region

According to legend the Gomo area is the birthplace of Nias people. This is where the first ancestors came down from heaven to live on earth. Even today it is considered the spiritual and cultural heartland of Nias. Gomo has some of the best megaliths on Nias and a different style of architecture known as the ‘central Nias’ style. Many villages are now mixed up with modern houses, but it is still worth a visit to see the megalithic sites and intricate wood carvings on local houses. The Gomo region includes the sub-districts of: Gomo, Börönadu, Lahusa, Sidua’öri, Mazö, Ulu Idanotae and Ulu Susua. Until recently you could only reach this area by foot. Travel to Gomo still takes a few hours and the road is rough. Some sites can only be reached by motorbike and on foot. A trip to the Gomo region is a full day trip, and many people actually end up staying overnight in order to take everything in. Gomo is about two and half hours from Sorake and three hours from Gunungsitoli. Note that there are only two very basic guesthouses in this region, both of them in Orahili Gomo village. Some of the highlights of Gomo region are the megalithic sites at:


Tetegewo megalithic site

  • Tetegewo megalithic site in Hlisao’ötö Village, Sidua’öri sub-district. This abandoned village site sits on top of a steep hill. The hill is filled with almost 100 different megaliths of different types. Perhaps the most impressive megalithic site in all of Nias.
  • Tundrumbaho megalithic site in Ulu Idanotae sub-district. Smaller and more overgrown than Tetegewo it is still very interesting due to some very large osa-osa statues.
  • Lahusa Satua village in Ulu Idanotae sub-districts is perhaps the most interesting village in the area due to its combination of many unique megaliths and a traditional house with many carvings. There are some 'skull coffins' which still contains human skulls (not from head hunting, but from ancestors).
  • Sifaoro'asi Gomo village in Gomo sub-district have two easily accessible spectacular traditional houses with many sculptures and wood carvings. 

Other villages in the region of interest include:

  • Sifalagö Susua village in Ulu Susua sub-district. This village past Gomo have several interesting traditional houses including a large Chiefs house and many megaliths. Although interesting, this village is seldom visited due to the difficult access.
  •  Simandraolo village in Ulu Idanotae sub-district have a large traditional houses and many megaliths and sculptures. These megaliths are more modern and therefore more detailed. 
  • Gui-Gui village in Mazö sub-district is not far from Sifaoro'asi Gomo village. There is a traditional house with very unique decoration.
  • Orahili Sibohou village in Gomo sub-district; some megaliths including a coffin and a very large traditional house.
  • Sifalago Gomo village in Börönadu sub-district is considered the 'first' village in the region and it has a grave marker for the Hia clan. There are some simple megaliths in the village and a traditional house. Access is difficult.
  • Hililaora village in Sidua’öri sub-district has a traditional house which is very accessible next to the road on the drive to central Gomo.

Detailed wood carvings adorn the front of a traditional house in Sifaoro Asi Gomo village.

Lölömatua and Lölöwau sub-districts:

On the seldom visited west coast of South Nias between Lagundri and Gunungsitoli there is another cluster of heritage sites. The main point of interest here are some very interesting megalithic sites and a different building style compared to the rest of the south. Even though remote these villages can be accessed by car. They are not far from the highest mountain on Nias; Lölomatua (885 m).


Traditional houses and megaliths in Olayama village.

  • Olayama village in Lölöwau sub-district has three unique megalithic sites: the most interesting is Bitaha, followed by Hilibadalu and Hili'ana'a. In the past the Olayama region used to have a unique building style with houses built on stone pillars instead of wood pillars. Olayama village is the highlight of this area.
  • Hilifadölö village in Lölöwau sub-district
  • Soliga village in Lölöwau sub-district
  • Ehosakhozi village in Lölöwau sub-district
  • Koendrafö village in Lölömatua sub-district
  • Sogawunasi village in Lölömatua sub-district
  • Tuhemberua village in Lölömatua sub-district
  • Lawa-lawa Luo village in Lölömatua sub-district



South Nias Regency

Including Batu Islands (Tellos)


Kabupaten Nias Selatan

Inaugurated: 28 Juli 2003.
Area: 1.626 km²
Population (2010): 289.876
Population density:
180 / km²
Seat of Local Govt:
Teluk Dalam
Largest Town:
Teluk Dalam
Sub-districts (Kecamatan): 18



Cultural Heritage sites in South Nias:

Fanayama sub-district


  • Bawömataluo village
  • Orahili Fau village
  • Lahusa Fau village
  • Hili'amaetaniha village
  • Botohilitanö village

Maniamölö sub-district


  • Hilisimaetanö village
  • Bawögosali village
  • Hilinawalö Fau village
  • Onohondrö village

Telukdalam sub-district


  • Hilimondregeraya village
  • Hilinamözaua village

Mazinö sub-district


  • Hilinawalö Mazinö village

Gomo region


  • Tundrumbaho village , Huruna sub-district
  • Lahusa Satua village , Gomo sub-district
  • Sifalagö Gomo village , Börönadu sub-district
  • Tetegewo - megalithic site, Hilisao’ötö village, Sidua’öri sub-district

Lölöwau sub-district


  • Olayama village



omo-hada-southern-style-w3Traditional 'Omo Hada'  house from South Nias 

omo-hada-southern-style-w5Traditional 'Omo Hada'  house from South Nias 

omo-sebua_facade_cf-de-boerTraditional Great House of a Nobleman (Omo Zebua) from South Nias

omo-hada-central-style-wTraditional 'Omo Hada'  house from Central Nias 

nias-tengahTraditional 'Omo Hada'  house from Central Nias 

tetegewo-gomo-houseTraditional 'Omo Hada'  house from Central Nias 

central-niasTraditional 'Omo Hada'  house from Central Nias 

south-nias-villages-wVillages on Nias, especially in the south, are often built on hills for defensive purposes.

All drawings by Prof. Alain Viaro.

© Yayasan Pusaka Nias 2017. Designed & Edited by Björn Svensson & Shanti Fowler