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Situated some 125 Km north-east from Padang, capital city of West Sumatra, you will find yourself in a charming town embraced by the beauty of nature that is Payakumbuh. Surrounded by an array of valleys and lush green fields and set against the dramatic panorama of Mount Singgalang and Mount Malintang, Payakumbuh is truly the best place to refresh one’s mind, body and soul.
Payakumbuh is the capital of the Limapuluh Kota Regency. Covering a total area of 80.42 Km squre, it is recognized as the second largest city after Padang in West Sumatra. The town is made up of 3 subdistricts, they are: West Payakumbuh, East Paykumbuh, and North Payakumbuh. Directly bordering the Riau Province, the town serves as the eastern gate to West Sumatra and connects some major cities in West Sumatra with other provinces. Payakumbuh is also the economic hub and activity center of the Limapuluh Kota Regency as well as that of other nearby regencies including Tanah Datar, Agam, and Bukittinggi.
Payakumbuh is marked with megalithic stones found in various places within and around the town which date back to the pre-historic era. The origins and historical account of these stones are unknown, however they prove that Payakumbuh has been inhabited since ancient times.
In Dutch colonial times, the town played a significant part in the Perang Padri (or the Padre War) which lasted from 1803 to 1821. The Dutch colonial government later built the city linked as one with the Nagari Aie Tabik settlements. For this purpose, in 1840 the Dutch built a stone bridge that connects Nagari Aie Tabik to the center of Payakumbuh. The bridge came to be known as Jembatan Ratapan Ibu or literally meaning the Bridge of Weeping Mothers. The name is said to have originated from a tragedy where the children of Payakumbuh were massaced by Dutch troops, thus leaving their mothers sobbing and crying.
As the heart of the indigenous Minangkabau culture of West Sumatra, the town is also home to the traditional Randai that combines martial art, dance choreography, and music. The Randai performance is usually accompanied by the traditional sounds of the Talempong and the Saluang which produce distinctive Minangkabau tunes.
A unique attraction of Payakumbuh is the traditional duck race called Pacu Itik , which is usually held among the nagari (settlements). In a single race, 8 ducks compete against each other on an 800 meters race track.
There are a number of public transportation that can take you from Padang to Payakumbuh which will cost you somewhere between IDR30,000 to IDR40,000. The town also lies close to Bukittinggi. However, for your convenience you may want to rent a car from Padang. The trip will take approximately 2.5 – 3 hours. Payakumbuh is also accessible from Pekanbaru in the Riau Province.