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In a world so full of incredible beauty, it is quite an accomplishment to be ranked the most beautiful village in the world. It's not too much of a surprise that the most beautiful village can be found deep in the Sumatran Mountains. Pariagan Village is located on the slopes of Mount Marapi in Minangkabau, where it is the oldest settlement. Much of the beauty of Pariagan comes from its ancient roots, which are still visible in the form of traditions and architecture.

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A Background On Pariagan Village

What makes Pariagan so special is the fact that it is ultimately ephemeral on the timescale of history. The village is ancient, and humans have inhabited the region for tens of thousands of years, which is why it may come as a surprise that the fiery destruction of Pariagan Village is predestined. Pariagan is located on the slopes of a highly active volcano, Mount Marapi. The name "Mount Marapi" translates to "mountain of fire" -- a descriptive name, no doubt, warning of the danger that the volcano poses.

  • Note: Mount Marapi is around 10,000 feet (3,000m) tall

The West Sumatran mountains are mostly populated by the Minangkabau people. Legend has it that the first place that the ancestors of the Minangkabau settled was Mount Marapi. The handful of villages on the slopes of the mountain are said to date back to the ancient Minangkabau kingdom that was once based in the region.

Upright burial stones have been found in the surrounding areas, all oriented toward Marapi, indicating the significance of the mountain as a cornerstone of the Minangkabau civilization.

Given that the most beautiful village in the world is located on Marapi, it's worth asking why this mountain is so conducive to harmonious and beautiful human settlement. The foremost reason for this is that volcanic soil is extremely fertile. In fact, the lushness of the Indonesian jungles and the diversity of flora and fauna can be attributed to the presence of highly active volcanoes in the island nation. If volcanoes imbibe a land with fertility and life, it's no surprise the most beautiful place in the world would be a volcano village that is always on the precipice of destruction.

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Culture In The Most Beautiful Village In The World

Pariagan Village is home to the most well-preserved examples of traditional Minangkabau houses. These houses are called "Rumah Gadang" and feature extensive wooden ornamentations and "rattan" weaving.

  • Note: Rattan is an Old World species of climbing Palm with extremely tough and durable fibers. The plant is woven into airtight, waterproof, flexible, and lightweight matting that is used to line Rimah Gadang houses.

This specific, native design, which is as close to aesthetic perfection as one can get, was utilized in the construction of every major structure in Pariagan. The beautiful "Surau" of Pariagan is a Minangkabau-style communal living center for unmarried males. The Pariagan Surau is one of the last surviving Minangkabau Surau's in the world. The presence of such a structure reflects the high values and intelligent design that substantiate the Minangkabau culture. The physical beauty of Pariagan is a manifestation of the invisible culture and values of the people who founded the village and preserve it.

Similarly, at the very center of Pariagan, the village is anchored by a Minangkabau-style Mosque. This is an architectural representation of the Pariagan culture, which is oriented toward an absolute reality.

Since it is based on logic, the architecture in Pariagan is highly functional. The structure of the roof perfectly deflects rain, making it easy to collect and preventing leakages. The ratta walls insulate the inside of the home against heat, cold, and moisture. The materials used are lightweight, sustainably, locally sourced, and environmentally low-impact. The houses achieve the essential functions of a modern home, maintain aesthetic beauty, and allow for a high civilization to flourish without the need for heavy machinery or extensive supply chains. The walls of a home can be woven by a single person sitting on the ground.

How And When To Visit Pariagan Village

The climate at Pariagan Village is usually wet and temperate. Owing to its elevation above sea level, the village remains cool and misty throughout the year. Monsoon may be the most beautiful time of the year to visit, but it can also be the most tricky. There are constant mudslides and slippery roads that add an element of complication and danger to the trip. If being out and hiking about town is the goal, then avoid visiting between the months of April and November, when it rains the most.

There are a number of ways to get to Pariagan Village, but all of them are somewhat elaborate. The village is located along the main road connecting two larger cities -- Batusangkar City and Padang Panjang City. Batusangkar City is about 10 miles (15km) away, while Padang City is around 62 miles (100km) away.

The nearest major airport is in Padang City. Tourists can take a flight from Bali or Jakarta to Minangkabau Airport, which serves the entire Sumatran region from Padang City. From here, it takes a little over two hours by bus or taxi to get to Pariagan Village.

Alternatively, visitors can fly into the airport at Batusangkar, which is a quick drive or hike to Pariagan. However, it is difficult to obtain passage directly to Batusangkar, so most tourists will opt for Padang instead.