Ambohimanga Rova is one of the famous king’s place to visit in Antananarivo. Located to the National Road to Anjozorobe from Antananarivo, for kilometers. The place has been preserved and contains crafts, pottery, kitchen tool and furniture. It is the place to celebrate traditional malagasy new year festival.
First step : take the roads leading to the palace
Have you ever imagined that there are structured roads to lead to the palace and all of the Imerina castle have this. At least, the castle must have 7 to 16 or more roads to go the place. Only one road entered to the main gate, and other must have block granit door to mark the entries. To discover all of them, choose walking with bottle of water because some of the doors are place on the top of the mountain, with tired uphill and downhill tiring steep paths.
Most of the granite door have structured circle shape. Built since 500 years, malagasy king’s palace have granite circle door. The utilization of the door is to protect against enemies. Today it is a kind of tourist attraction and there are many kind of stone block door. The fence they used to close the king’s area was built with stone block and it was assembled with a mixture of egg cocoon. The main gate have stone pavement to go there.
Second step : pilgrimage place and festival
Ambohimanga Rova have built at the mid of surroundings hill. During the reign of Andrianampoinimerina, king’s subjects got to around hill to pray their god, ask and give gifts to their ancestors. Until now, there are some people still practice these customs and a key person, traditional healers and tangalamena, teach them and conduct ceremony. There are taboos, specific red colors and reserved area that people can’t allow to access. There are period to celebrate ceremony and a few people, prepare their body, for example take a bath at the sacred water source. The gift may different from candies, honey to fowl and, during the pilgrimage, they may killed beef for special project.
Today, Malagasy people and especially the descendants of king lineage use the main place of Ambohimanga Rova to celebrate the traditional malagasy new year. There are many artists, singers and guests to participate of this event every year. You can show the identity of Malagasy Culture during the new year such as Hira Gasy, a kind of comic and rhyme songs to remember the everyday life, to hard life and current events; there are also dancing and the time to eat rice and honey, to begin the blessed year. In the evening, there is the lantern parade with families and friends to walk around the castle area and the main streets of the city.
Third step : the legend of twelve spouse
Andrianampoinimerina king was known to have twelve spouses. The hill surroundings the Manjakamiadana big castle at the capital of Madagascar, called « Rova » are formed by 12 hills, governed by 12 queens too. Ambohimanga Rova is the residence of the Andrianampoinimerina’s king. They spend days with all of the 12 women during his life. Before he started to share their kingdom, his ambition is to marry with 12 women and to put them into 12 hills around Antananarivo. Each women have their turn to sleep with the king, if he want to change the women one night, he shoot a stone to the queen’s bed and whoever receives its sleeps with the king. Since 1990’s, Ambohimanga Rova became a museum that everybody can make a visit everyday.
To close : the traditional malagasy rice cake
Do you know the traditional malagasy rice cake they eaten for special occasion. It called « koban-dravina », in malagasy. All of malagasy rice cake called « koba », but now, I will talk about the famous « Koban-dravina ». The production of koba started since 500 years. It is made to review the symbol of traditional malagasy new year, and then eaten as usual. The koban-dravina are made with rice, the main raw materials, caramelized and crushed peanuts. It wrapped in banana leaves, boiled in hot water for 24 to 48 hours and cooked as a triangle shape. After, it will serve in this slice and the mid of the cake is brown color, which is very tasty. If you have never taste koban-dravina, try to eat it because it is very delicious. Today, almost region of Antananarivo produce a copied version of koban-dravina but, it becomes a culinary specialty of Ambohimanga, the surroundings area and Talatavolonondry township. If you can’t go to the weekly market of Talatavolonondry to eat the number one Koba, you can see this at the market of Mahamasina every thursday, a district of the capital.