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Khuat Lao Cave, Past and Present

Wednesday, 2018-07-18 14:16:33
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PTO - According to the historical records, after having overthrown the Liang Dynasty's rule, in February 544 Ly Bi founded Van Xuan State, proclaimed himself as the emperor Ly Nam De, and chose Dan Phuong land (Hanoi) as the capital.

His court consisted of two ranks including civil rank and military rank with hundreds of mandarins and Van Tho Palace was chosen as the meeting place of the court. In the spring of 545, when the Liang returned to attack the capital, the capital fell and Ly Nam De had to pull his troops back to Khuat Lao area in order to reinforce his troops. Unfortunately, the troops were surprised by the Liang and the emperor got injuries. He had to hand over the military power to Trieu Quang Phuc, who would continue to lead the resistance. The King afterwards lived in seclusion in Khuat Lao Cave until he died at the age of 46 in the summer of 548, just 1470 years ago. The legend says that the King’s remains were secretly buried in a cave which was dug deep from the hillside into the ground to put the grave in Bong Mound. Since then, the place has been known as Khuat Lao.

Khuat Lao Cave, commonly known as Bong Mound (or Co Bong Mound), is a low three-petal lotus bud shaped hill located 500 m far from the right bank of Thao River and surrounded by a lagoon of over 110 hectares. This is a dense wooded hill whose one side is blocked by Lien Giang Lagoon, and the two sides are large fields connecting from the hill foot to Thao River. If wanting to go out from Bong Mound, you will have to use a boat, or follow the only path through Phan House’s Slope to Dinh Trai Base, which according to the legend was a place of military training, in the southwest adjacent to the current National Highway 32. In Dinh Trai, there remain about ten small ponds, each with an area ranging from a few hundreds to several thousands of meter squares. According to the legend, those pounds used to store water for the soldiers’ use, so they were called Quan (Mandarins’) ponds. Due to its critical terrain, Bong Mound was chosen by the King as a command and shelter center. About the military conditions, this place was in the past considered as a joint military position, both advantageous for defense and attack.

On the ancient Bong Mound, there was a temple, shrine and altar which were every year worshiped by the people of Danh Huu Village, Co Tiet Commune. Next to it, there existed an altar which according to the legend was the King’s tomb. In the 1930s, due to difficulties in traveling, Danh Huu villagers left the altar in the temple to another worshiping place inside the village that is 500 m away from Bong Mound, right on the bank of Thao River and near Nghinh Vua Wharf. Because of natural disasters and poor conservations, the relics related to worship in Khuat Lao have been lost. The King’s temple on Bong Mound has also been ruined due to no management, and only some parts of the foundation and the altar statue are remained. Since 1960, a few households started moving for Dinh Trai area on Bong Mound to settle and do farming. After 1980, the Forbidden Forest was also planned for residence. 

Considering the important role of Van Xuan State in the cause of building the country, since 2010, Tam Nong district authority has restored the worshiping area of Ly Nam De on Bong Mound. In the immediate future, the district authority will recover nearly two hectares of land allocated to the households who use the land for settling and planting annual trees in order to serve the establishment of a memorial. A socialization capital amount of nearly two billion VND will be mobilized for building of temples, restoration of the King's tomb, guest houses, fences where commemorative trees are planted, building of courtyards and pounds, etc. Particularly, as the relic area of Khuat Lao Cave is just one km away by the skyway and two km by the road from the memorial site of President Ho Chi Minh in Co Tiet Commune, it is very convenient for visiting the historical monuments. On the first or fifteenth days of the lunar months, especially on the King’s birth, death or crowning day anniversaries, people from many parts of the country come there to burn incense in commemoration of Ly Nam De. The place has regularly attracted many young people and students who come for visiting and learning about the traditional values of the nation.

Quoc Vuong