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History of Lake Toba - North Sumatra

History of Lake Toba 

History of Lake Toba

Like most natural tourist attractions in Indonesia, besides having a scientific history, Lake Toba also keeps folk tales that are believed to be the origin of the formation of this lake.

Lake Toba, located in North Sumatra, is one of the most beautiful volcanic lakes in Indonesia. With an area of ​​1,145 square kilometers, Lake Toba looks like an ocean that is 900 meters above sea level. Apart from being called the largest lake in Southeast Asia, this lake which has a depth of 450 meters is also the deepest lake in the world. 

In the middle of Lake Toba, there is an island called Samosir Island. Samosir Island has two small lakes, namely Lake Aek Natonang and Lake Sidihoni. Samosir Island, which has an area almost the same as the size of Singapore, is not an empty island, it is the home of the Samosir Batak tribe. The Batak tribe who live on Samosir Island still adhere to their ancestral beliefs. They also still carry out various rituals that their ancestors used to do.

According to folklore that has been widely circulated, Lake Toba is formed from the story of a fish stealth family. In ancient times, there was a young man who was fishing in the river who then managed to get a fish. Unlike other fish, the fish he found could talk and beg not to be cooked. The fish then turned into a very beautiful woman named Toba.

Long story short, the two of them got married, but there was one request from Toba that the young man should not break. Nobody should know about the real beautiful woman he married. Their marriage went fine until they had a son named Samosir who was ruffled and always felt hungry.

One day, Samosir was assigned to send food to his father in the fields, but the food he brought was eaten on the street. The father was hungry and decided to go home, on the way home he saw Samosir was eating the provisions that should be for his father. Because he was very angry, he accidentally pointed at Samosir and said that he was a fish fry.

Instantly the sky was dark and it was raining heavily. Water also came out of the underground which made the village submerged in water. Toba and Samosir suddenly disappeared when the village turned into a sea of ​​water. It was then that Lake Toba was formed and Samosir Island is believed to be the embodiment of the stealth of fish and their children.

When viewed from a more scientific perspective, Lake Toba is a volcanic lake formed by the eruption of Mount Toba thousands of years ago. The eruption of the mountain formed a giant caldera or crater which then filled with water to become the lake it is today.

The eruption of this volcano was so extraordinary that the resulting volcanic ash spread almost all over the world and caused mass death, reducing 60% of the number of people at that time. In addition, according to the researchers, this eruption also affected climate and weather so that the earth entered an ice age.

What can be done in Lake Toba

Exploring Lake Toba will be difficult to complete in just one day. This tourist spot has many interesting things to do and many places that should not be missed on your visit.

Set sail

Sailing to Samosir Island by charter boat will certainly be an interesting experience. By renting a boat for a group of 20-25 people for a day, you are free to ask to stop at any tourist point you and your group want to visit.

During on this boat trip, enjoy the view of Lake Toba and its surroundings. You will be amazed by the richness of nature that you see. Don't forget to prepare a camera to capture every charm of Lake Toba. In addition, you can see other tourists playing banana boats and jetskiing on the lake.

Get to know the history of the Batak

Being on Samosir Island, don't just stay at the inn. Here, you can get to know the history of Batak by visiting historical tourist attractions. Don't miss Tomok Village where there is the Tomb of King Sidabutar, the Huta Bolon Museum in Simanindo and Batu Persidangan in Ambarita.

The tomb of Raja Butar is very unique because it is made of large stones without a connection and there is a carving of the king's face on the stone of his tomb. King Sidabutar is the first person to inhabit Tomok. In this burial complex there are also the tombs of two successive kings and the graves of several family members. To enter this tourist spot, you must wear the ulos that has been provided by the officer at the entrance.

The Huta Bolon Museum is no less interesting. Here you can see the Simanindo Batak traditional house, a legacy of King Sidauruk, which is used as a museum for Batak culture today. Inside the museum, there are many collections of objects that are closely related to Batak culture such as traditional clothing, ulos cloth and also a coffin containing a Sigale-gale doll.

Don't forget to visit Ambarita Village where there is the Trial Stone. This stone, which is shaped like a table, was used to execute prisoners. People who are proven to have committed crimes such as murder, theft and rape will be beheaded at this table.


It's incomplete if on vacation without shopping. In the Lake Toba area and its surroundings there are many souvenir shops selling ulos cloth, Batak guitar, t-shirts, key chains and various other souvenirs. You can find many of these souvenirs on Samosir Island, Parapat, Balige and other places around Lake Toba. Prepare your wallet and hone your bargaining skills.

What is interesting about Lake Toba?

Sigale-gale doll

The Sigale-gale doll is one of the characteristics of this tourist spot in Sumatra. This 1.5 meter tall wooden puppet complete with traditional Batak clothes can tor-tor dance with tourists. You can see this Sigale-gale dance performance at several tourist attractions on Lake Toba such as the Huta Bolon Museum and several other museums.

The sigale-gale must be kept in a coffin. This doll is very sacred because of its long history. Starting from the favorite son of a Batak king in ancient times who died during war. The king became sad and sick.

Until then the healer and smart people decided to make a wooden doll the size of a human and his face was made to resemble a king's son. According to residents, the spirit of the king's son entered the doll so that Sigale-gale could move and dance without the help of a puppeteer.

Lake Toba Festival

The Lake Toba Festival is an annual routine event in collaboration with the North Sumatra regional government and the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. This event is held between August - September.

In this festival, there are various kinds of cultural arts performances and competitions for the community ranging from dance performances to decorative boat competitions. You can also find a variety of delicious culinary delights and hunt for beautiful ulos fabrics during the event.

If you want to watch the annual festival at this tourist spot, you should book flight tickets and hotel rooms in advance.
History of Lake Toba

Transportation to Lake Toba

The closest location to Lake Toba which can be accessed by vehicle is the city of Parapat, Simalungun.

From Pinang Baris Terminal in Medan, take a bus bound for Parapat. The trip to Parapat from Medan takes about 6 hours. From Parapat, you can already see the beauty of Lake Toba. If you want to go to Samosir Island, you can cross by ferry from Ajibata Port to Tuktuk, Samosir.