Dong Van Karst Plateau: Heritage and Value of Humanity

Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark contains globally unique, distinctive heritages recording the geological development process lasting millions of years.
Together with spectacular natural landscape, this place offers the rich human values retained by local ethnic minority groups. As a global geopark, Dong Van Karst Plateau will contribute to sustainable economic, social and cultural development of Ha Giang province, while promoting the image of Vietnam’s culture and people to the world.
The geopark is a model that the international community considers an appropriate measure to develop ecological and geological tourism in a more effective manner, and enhance the role and value of the science of the earth. The title will help raise public awareness of preserving the geological heritage.
Dong Van Karst Plateau is located in the margin of the Song Chay ancient minor continent in dome form. Research results of palaeontological fossil species and rock types have shown that this area was formed at least 542 million years ago. The rock plateau has experienced many different stages of development and tectonic contexts during its long history. Many Vietnamese and international geologists have divided this history into seven stages. Different tectonic contexts and paleoclimatic-paleoenvironmental conditions resulted in the appearance of many palaeontological species here. Geologists have also identified nineteen palaeontological groups with hundreds of genera and thousands of species in this area like brachiopod, tabulate, rugose coral, stromatoporoidea, trilobite, prehistoric fish, foraminifera, conical shell, pelecypod, prehistoric crustaceans, ecrinite, aquatic plants, cephalopod, moss-formed animals, and many others. Particularly, a total of 26 new genera and species have been found in this area for the first time in the world.
The recognition of Global Geopark is the prerequisite for Ha Giang province to continue filing documentations on crop cultivation technique in rock hollows in Dong Van Karst Plateau to UNESCO for the title of intangible heritage of humanity in the coming time. This will help preserve and introduce the unparalleled technique of crop cultivation of ethnic minorities living in the rock plateau to the world. Together with uniquely formed geological heritage, Dong Van Karst Plateau is also attractive to tourists because of its multiple cultures, with 17 native ethnic groups. The idiosyncratic cultural traditions of Lo Lo Chai people, legendary Khau Vai love market, and Dong Van street market-day enchant any visitors.
Standing on the peak by the Lung Cu flagpole, with panoramic view of the mountain slope, you can find houses covered with fog in Lo Lo ethnic villages, which impresses visitors as the walls of traditional houses are built from clay, with Yin and Yang roof tiles, and surrounded by stone fences. Each house is separated into many rooms for family members. The most unique cultural character of the Lo Lo people is bronze drums, a traditional instrument handed down from generation to generation. The drum is enshrined as sacred souvenir by the Lo Lo people. With their hardworking nature, Lo Lo women often weave traditional costumes by themselves, their fancy needlework creates brilliantly coloured costumes.
In the heart of the plateau, Dong Van ancient town nestles below the high peaks of mountains constituted by rows of century-old houses. Dong Van Market, with strangely carved U-shaped limestone columns, lies inside the ancient town. On market days, the atmosphere is like a festival. Well-dressed native people go down to the market to make friends, barter goods and do other private affairs. The market was built sometime between 1925 and 1928, exhibiting Vietnamese and Chinese architectural styles.
The unique cultures and architectures of the Dong Van townspeople only add to the distinctiveness of the geopark.
Traces of Ong (Gentle) Temple and Ba (Lady) Temple recall a story about the love between a boy and a girl of two conflicting tribes who promise to meet once a year in Khau Vai. The Khau Vai Love Market gathers once a year on the 27th of the third lunar month.
Thanh Nga

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