Friday, 24 April 2009

Legend of the West Lake

The West Lake is the known as the largest lake in Hanoi with an area of more than 500ha. According to scientific investigations, the West Lake, as well as the Sword Lake, is a section of the Red River when it changed its stream direction. The West Lake is also knowns with many other names like the Fog Lake, Golden Buffalo Lake and Dam Xac Cao (Fox Corpse Lake).

Golden Buffalo and Fox Corpse are the names deriving from the imaginary legends.

Since time immemorial, there was a rocky mountain where lived a fox which did harm to the people. The Heaven was angry and ordered the Dragon King to flood and destroyed the mountain cave, killing the fox. The cave shrank and a lake was formed, the fox corpse floated. Thus, the people here called it Fox Corpse Lake.

As another legend goes, the name Golden Buffalo originated in the Ly dynasty. At that time there was a highly achived Buddhist monk called Nguyen Minh Khong, who was good at using magic and able to cure fatal diseases.

Hearing about him, China's Song king invited him to treat his son's disease. After sucessful in curing the king's son, he was allowed to take away anything in the king's store. He got nothing but all black bronze. Returning home, he offered all the bronze to the Ly king; the king then had a bell cast.

When the bell was rang, a golden buffalo from China ran to Vietnam. Coming at the forest north of Thang Long

Citadel when the bell stopped ringing, the buffalo was angry and destroyed the forest, the land became a lake. The king ordered to throw the bell into the lake so that the buffalo would not go up.

Since then, the buffalo lay silently in the lake and the lake got its name. It is said that anyone who has ten sons can call and take the buffalo home. One time, a person with ten sons came to called the buffalo. Suddenly the rope attached to the buffalo broke and the buffalo dived back into water. It was later found that, one of his son was a foster child.

The lake is also called the Fog Lake because there is fog hovering the lake surface every morning and afternoon.

In 1573, the lake was renamed West Lake to avoid the king's name and has been called so since.

Today, streets surrounding the lake, Tran Quoc Temple, West Lake Temple, Quan Thanh Temple have become interesting sites for any locals and visitors to Hanoi.

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