In Ghana a “Sacred Grove,” is an area of land that has been set aside because it hold importance spiritually to them. It is seen as the area where their spirits, ancestors or gods live and need to be protected from other activities because of that. These are areas where people from the community go to consult with the spirits, or do ceremonies to honor them or correct perceived problems in their lives or the community. Sacred Groves are usually beautiful natural areas because of the history of being protected from farming, fishing, falling trees or collecting wood.
Tano Sacred Grove is a special site because of the very important Sacred Grove there to all Ashanti people and the long history of people living in the Sandstone rock formations very close to is. The Akan (a large group of different tribes that share a common lineage and similar language, that includes Ashanti’s and Fante’s) people believe that their ancestors ascended from a large hole in the ground and that is how their people came to be. There is a cave about 30km from Tano that is believed to be the place where the Akan people left the underground. The area around Tano Sacred Grove is said to be the first settlement of these people, one of the first stops on a visit to the Sacred Grove is a large rock overhang where there are stones that these original inhabitants ground their food, and there are smooth impressions in the rocks from this. The ceiling of the overhanging rock is also blackened from their fires.
Tano Sacred Grove is located near the village of Tanoboase, which is about 10 minutes to the North of Teshiman in the Brong Ahafo region. On the main road in the village there is a dirt road that takes off to the East with a traditional reed roofed hut next to it. This is the local tourism information and where you would stop to get your guide for the Sacred Grove. From there you will go down the dirt road a few km to the start of the trail into the Grove. Stated above the site of the early inhabitants will probably be your first stop on the full loop through the area the guide will take you on. From there the trail continues along the edge of over grown sandstone cliffs, spires and formations. The trees above you will probably be filled with large bats and if you go around sunset the sheer number taking flight can be quite overwhelming. If you are feeling up to in your guild will take you up into the sandstone cliffs where you will enter the center of the formations by going through a couple of small arches in the rocks. This area has been used for a very long time as a sanctuary for the people and almost a natural fort. This played a significant part in the Bono Wars in the 1800s when the Ashanti Empire was quickly trying to consolidate its reach. The people who lived there were able to see their enemies coming from a distance and prepare themselves, the difficulty of entry to the top of the cliffs made defense easy since invaders would have to go through the same small openings as you did.
After reaching the top of the cliffs and experiencing some great views of the area you will be taken to the Tortoise Stone which is a rock that looks like it has a turtle sitting on top of it. This is a very important symbol to the people representing peace. You will also be shown some other areas of the rock formation that effected how people lived from the faces where men would compete in rock climbing competitions for acquiring wives, or where enemy captives would be held. The trail descends the rock formations from the opposite side you came up and circles around to an area where a shrine is set up for the deities and spirits. This is also an area where a festival is held each year, that even the Ashanti King still comes too. There is a pot of water in a cave that fills with water and is said to be the start of a major river in the area. Depending on how this pot fills it is determined how good of rainy season there will be and the success of the harvest as a result. From there you will connect back up to the trail you started on.
A visit to Tano Sacred Grove is definitely recommended if you are in the Techiman area. It is a great balance between nature, and learning about the history of the people who live there and also the whole of the Akan people. It is probably best visited in the morning or late afternoon so as not to be too hot, the light around sunset is beautiful along with the amazing amount of bats that take flight for the night.
If you have been to Tano Sacred Grove, please leave a comment below to share your experience with others.