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Dargilan cave, a story about a chase in Hell

Concretions | Vassil / CC0
Natural cavity Exploration Edouard-Alfred Martel Dargilan caves

Dargilan: hell’s gate!

In the 18th century, engineer Samuel Blanquet explored the cave of Dargilan. But everyone forget about it… until 1880.

A fox disappeared one day in a crack, this unimportant hole no one cared about.

No one, except that shepherd, Maurice Sahuquet. He was chasing this fox.

Maurice decided to smoke out the animal because he thought he was burrowed in this simple hole.

A waste of time! The young shepherd finally blew out the fire, dug a larger hole and entered in the underground tunnel.

He went out later completely horrified.

He said he saw the Hell’s entrance hall, a dark and bottomless chasm…

Horrified by the darkness and by the weird echo of his own voice, Maurice moved back. Below him, galleries, rooms, passages...

After his discovery, the shepherd told his story to a monk from the village of Meyrueis.

This chap went to the hole and in 1884-1885 the famous speleologist Martel came. He only visited the biggest room, the only one accessible at that moment.

In 1888, 8 years after Maurice’s discovery, Martel’s team explored the whole cave for the first time.

The Society of les Gorges du Tarn, managed by Louis Armand (the one who explored the famous Aven Armand) fit out the cave.

In 1910, the place was wired! And the first visitors arrived...

The visit of Dargilan

• The Chaos room, with big rocks on the ground.

• The Mosque room, with this stony minaret: in fact, it’s a 20 metres high column, a nice blend of pearly concretions.

• Then the Pink room. The cave of Dargilan is also known as the ″pink cave″ because of the coloured concretions… Those are calcite coloured with metal oxides. From pastel pink to the most dark carmine!

• Below, we get down towards the ancient bed of the underground river. And here, we have the petrified cascades corridor, with its nice drapery: 100 metres long and 40 metres high!

• The Lake room: not a big lake like in the cave of Trabuc, but a shallow groundwater with gorgeous green water...

• The bell-tower room with its column (20 metres high).

• The Cemetery room, with vertical concretions looking like graves...

All those concretions have funny names: Goliath’s club, the Distaff, the 5 candles, the Beehive, the Persian hat… Will you recognize them? Hey, we even have the Dead man concretion, who looks like a lying corpse on a linen…

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!