Hanoi’s lakes reflect the city’s unique beauty
2010-07-26 (GMT + 7)
Hanoi has been endowed with a myriad of lakes of different sizes lying scattered across the city, which, with their own distinctive beauty and history, have added a special cultural trait typical of Hanoi.
With more than 100 lakes of all sizes, Hanoi has more lakes than any other capital city in the world.
Of all the natural and man-made lakes, Ho Guom or Hoan Kiem lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) and Ho Tay (West Lake) are the largest and the most beautiful.
The history of Hoan Kiem lake is closely associated with the founding history of Thang Long – the country’s former capital, which nowadays is called Hanoi.
The lake used to be called Luc Thuy Lake or “Green Water Lake” since the water was green all year round. In the 15 th century, it was named Hoan Kiem lake after the legend of King Le Thai To and the large tortoise that grabbed his sword.
The legend dates back to the time of the Le Dynasty six centuries ago. During the war against the Minh aggressors (1417-1427), King Le Thai To chanced upon a precious fairy sword. After 10 years of struggles, the King finally defeated the northern invaders and reclaimed the nation’s independence. After that, one nice day, while the King was boating on lake Luc Thuy, a large tortoise swam towards him and asked him to return the sword. The tortoise grabbed the sword with its mouth and then dived again.
Hence, King Le Thai To named the lake Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Restored Sword.
Through the many ups and downs of history, the lake has remained a green pearl inside the city. Vietnamese, no matter how far they are from home, cannot help but feeling nostalgic about Hoan Kiem lake, where the image of the old Tortoise Tower is reflected under the pure green, sparkling water and the beautiful willow trees bend over the lake to see their reflections in the water.
The vivid and colorful scenery, the red arched The Huc Bridge and Thap But (Pen Tower) have also found their way into many songs and poems.
Tay Ho (West Lake) in Hanoi, meanwhile, is often described as the most romantic place, resplendent in its beauty and vastness.
Covering an area of more than 500 hectares, the lake was formerly known as Dam Dam or Lagoon of Mist, until the 15 th century and a favourite place for the kings of the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties to rest and relax.
West Lake becomes even most beautiful during the autumn. During this time, the dew and mist mingle together to make the lake duskier and more romantic, especially with the faint echo of the bell in Tran Quoc pagoda.
Walking along the small paths around the lake, one can see the vivid colours of hundreds types of flowers as the lake is surrounded by the three famous flower-growing villages of Nhat Tan, Quang Ba and Nghi Tam.
Hanoi’s lakes, that cover 1,165 ha, play a very important role in regulating the rainfall and preventing floods during the stormy season.