Hoa Lu Cave – Or Thung Lau, Thung La

Hoa Lu Cave, also known as Thung Lau Ninh Binh, is located in Gia Hung commune, Gia Vien, Ninh Binh. This is a national historical relic according to Decision No. 51/VH-QD (now under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) dated December 1, 1996. Thung Lau, with its majestic beauty of nature, is associated with the first steps in Dinh Bo Linh’s career of unifying the country.

Hoa Lu Cave - Or Thung Lau, Thung La
Hoa Lu Cave – Or Thung Lau, Thung La

Origin of the name Hoa Lu cave

Hoa Lu is the Sino-Vietnamese pronunciation of the word ‘reed flower.’ It can be understood that this is a cave with many reed flowers, and people also call its name roughly ‘Lau Valley.’ Hoa Lu Cave, in addition to the name Thung Lau, also has another name, Thung Ong. The name Thung Ong is derived from the temple of ‘Saint Ong’ Nguyen Minh, who was not in the old valley. When visiting Ninh Binh, many tourists want to experience Thung La besides Lau Valley.

Hoa Lu Cave is associated with history

The complete history of Dai Viet records Hoa Lu cave as the birthplace of King Dinh Tien Hoang. Researchers said that Hoa Lu cave in the past included Dai Huu village, Dai Hoang district, now Gia Phuong commune, Gia Vien, Ninh Binh. Legend has it that Dinh Bo Linh herded buffaloes, cut grass, and practiced reed flags in Thung Lau, Thung La, and Thung Lui caves.

The children often respected Bo Linh as the leader and organized a very majestic procession. Among the local people, there is still a chant:

‘Tran who, who knows, who doesn’t, Hoa Lu has a group of heroic buffalo children, The reed flag waved in practice, Making Lac sprouts and Hong buds glorious.’

Thung Lau Ninh Binh – Hoa Lu Cave was the first base of warlord Dinh Bo Linh in his career of unifying the country. Thung Lau cave is about 15km north of Hoa Lu cave. Dinh Bo Linh was born around 924 in Hoa Lu cave, Dai Hoang province.

Scenery of Thung Lau Ninh Binh

Although it is called Hoa Lu Cave, this is actually a valley about 16 acres wide, surrounded by arc mountains. The mountain here is about 200m high, separating Hoa Lu cave from the outside and forming a majestic wall around the cave. Thung Lau Ninh Binh has a nearly circular shape, about 200m in diameter.

thung lau ninh bình
thung lau ninh bình

There is only one way to the cave, a small road about 30 meters high with rocky slopes that are difficult to navigate. Today, the local government has built a road with about 240 stone steps winding into 9 sections, symbolizing the Dragon image. Surrounding the outside of the cave is Cut Lagoon, 3km long and 500m wide, like a natural moat protecting Hoa Lu cave.

On the mountain and at the foot of the mountain, from ancient times until now, there have been many reed flowers. In the season around October, the flowers bloom in white, covering the entire area. The scenery of the reed valley reminds us of the reed exercises that Dinh Bo Linh and the children in the village used to play in the past.

Temple of King Dinh Tien Hoang in Hoa Lu cave

Through the restoration and embellishment of the monument in recent years, Thung Lau Ninh Binh has been embellished on a larger scale and more spacious. Outside the cave, there is a stone gate and a parking lot for tourists coming here.

Located in the middle of Hoa Lu cave is a temple worshiping King Dinh Tien Hoang and the Dinh dynasty’s literary and martial arts council. The temple was built on the foundation of his old citadel and has now been renovated on a larger scale. In King Dinh temple, there is a wooden sign engraved with a poem in Chinese by Thuc Bao La Xuan Oai made in the year of Tan Mui, the reign of Tu Duc (1871), describing the scenery of Hoa Lu cave. Behind King Dinh temple is the temple of Saint Nguyen Minh Khong.

Thung Lau Temple Festival, Ninh Binh

Every year, at the beginning of spring, on the 8th day of the 10th lunar month, a festival called Hoa Lu Festival or Thung Lau Temple Festival takes place in Ninh Binh Valley. The festival is relatively similar to the festival of the ancient capital of Hoa Lu but on a smaller scale. With the principle of remembering the source when you drink water, the festival is solemnly organized by the local community with many rituals, sacrifices, and processions. In addition, Hoa Lu Festival also has folk games such as wrestling, o lau exercises, lion dancing, cheo singing, or folk singing, creating a fun and exciting atmosphere for the people and tourists attending.

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