DAU GO GROTTO – GROTTE DES MERVEILLES
One of the biggest, the most gorgeous grotto on Halong Bay areas is Dau Go Grotto. In the late 19th century, French tourists visited here, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Dau Go cave also has another name: Giau Go cave.
It is located on Dau go Island, next to Thien Cung Grotto, far 6km from Bai Chay Habor, at an altitude of 27 meters compared to sea level. This cave has an area of 5000 m2, the entrance is 17m wide and 12m high, and has a shape similar to that of a jellyfish. The ceiling of the grotto is about 25 m high. Hundreds of stalactites falling down from the roof of the grotto look like a waterfall.
There are three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). The exterior is a room with a vault full of natural light. Many forms may be seen in the rock formations of the chamber, depending on the imagination of the visitor of course. In the first chamber, in the very middle of the grotto, is a colossal pillar supporting the large vault. On the top of the pillar, there appears to be a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right hand clasping a cane. Crossing the first chamber, one enters the second chamber through a narrow passage. The light here is mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. It leaves us wondering what these might be imagined as. The second chamber is narrow. Here, the stalactites look smaller but more graceful. One feels like going to a pagoda with a monk in meditation so that one steps more gently. The third chamber of the grotto is widely opened. At the end of the grotto is a well of clear water. Looking up in the dim light we recognize that surrounding us is the image of an ancient citadel and a scuffle of elephants, horses & men with bristly swords and spears. All are making a rush and seem to have been petrified suddenly. The third chamber features high stone columns out of which nature has carved images of a large kingdom of heroes and soldiers holding swords and spears rushing up, of war elephants and horses or lions, etc. All of them suddenly were petrified and remained there for good.
The name Driftwood Grotto came from a popular story of the resistance war against the Yuan – Mongolian aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Ðao was given the order to prepare many ironwood stakes here, to be planted on the riverbed of Bach Dang River. The remaining wooden pieces found in the grotto have given it its present name. The name Giau Go is associated with the legend that General Tran Hung Ðao (1226-1300) hid ironwood stakes in preparation for the Bach Dang battle against the Yuan-Mongolian invaders.
If the Thien Cung Grotto is monumental and modern (in its natural form), then Driftwood Grotto is solemn, but also grandiose. In “Marvels of the World,” published in France in 1938, the author called the grotto “Grotte des merveilles” (a site of many marvels). In 1917, Emperor Khai Dinh came to visit the grotto, and amazed by the beauty of the place, ordered the erection of an engraved stone stele singing the praises of Halong Bay and the grotto. Today, it remains to the right-hand side of the entrance.
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