West lake in Tay Ho is a largest of all the lakes in Ha Noi, It is on the northwest of the city. Long ago, the lake was a branch of the Red River but later, as the red changed its course, the lake remained the body of water just in the west of the river.
There are many legends associated with lake west.
The most popular is the legend of the golden buffalo.
As the storey goes, once there was a medicine man who was a giant. He is well known in Vietnam for his medicine practice and the king often used him to treat the royal family. His fame reached China and he was invited there is to treat the king. He was successful whereas others failed so the king decided to reward him with great wealth. He refused the offerings of gold and only requested that the king give him all the black copper in the king’s vault. The king agreed and the giant left for Vietnam with a big amount of black copper. In Vietnam the giant molded a giant left bell of black copper. The giant rang the bell and the sound resonated all the way to China. In the king’s vault there was a golden buffalo. Upon hearing the sound of the bell, the buffalo came to life (because he thought that his mother was calling him) and charged southward. Upon reaching Ha Noi, the buffalo trampled the land in the area near the Red river. Over the years this area filled with water and became Hồ Tây or Lake West.
Ho Tay has always been an area for vacationing royalties. When Ha Noi was still the capital city, the kings from the Lý and Trần dynasties built summer homes along the lake. In the north end of the lake there are several village famous for their flower and fruit plantations. Most famous is Nghi Tam village, the birth place of Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, one of Vietnam’s Premier Poetesses.
Today, many of the summer homes built by the king of yesteryears are now shrine and temples. Phủ Tây Hồ is one of the more popular shrines on the shore Hồ Tây. During the first and fifteenth days of the lunar month, people from all over Ha Noi pour to the shrine to pay respect to the deities. On these days, the roads are filled with people dressed in colorful attire heading to the narrow road leading to the shrine. Phu Tay Ho is also famous for the Bun Oc (escargot vermicelli soup) and Bánh Tôm (shrimp cakes) sold in stalls along the way.
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