DALAT CITY OF ETERNAL SPRING
Dalat city (Vn: Đà Lạt) is the capital of Lam Dong Province. Located on the Langbiang Plateau at an altitude of 1,500 m above sea level. In the centre of the city lies the 2 square kilometre, Xuan Huong artificial lake. Da Lat is called the City of Eternal Spring and is a medium-sized Vietnamese city reminiscent of the French Alps. The streets are spacious with elegant French colonial villas, and the locals are very friendly. Dalat a great hideaway for escaping both the hustle and bustle of the city and the heat. The town and its districts grow a variety of berries, fruits, silk, tea, coffee, flowers, rice and much more. Da Lat – Wikipedia
Be aware that the mountain climate is much cooler than elsewhere along the Vietnamese coast. Dalat is known as the city of eternal spring with daytime temperatures between 15°C and 24°C. The highest temperature ever recorded is 31.5°C and the lowest -0.6°C. The dry season is from November to March, with rainfall mostly from April to October. During the rainy season, the waterfalls are most massive, and the best time to visit.
Vietnam’s central highlands have been inhabited since time immemorial by the Degar tribes, who consider themselves the descendants of the Champa kingdom. The Degars have always fought against all invaders, as they did against the Viet Cong troops.
When the Langbiang Plateau became part of French Cochinchina, many colonial doctors attributed many diseases to the hot tropical maritime climate, and the first expedition was sent to the plateau in 1890. The expedition was joined by French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin and chemist Louis Pasteur.
After a successful expedition, permission was sought from the French governor Paul Doumer to start construction on the Langbiang Plateau, which would offer the lure of an escape from the hot and supposedly unhealthy hot tropical maritime climate. The construction was immediately approved by the French governor, and the city was to be called Dankia. The town plan was drawn up by Ernest Hébrard, and the town was to be a white privilege and amenity, serving both a medical purpose and a symbolic function in maintaining white supremacy.
The French faced many hurdles in the construction and the project took a couple of decades to complete. By the end of the 1920s, the colonisers had created a French social space, a city of rehabilitation, leisure and education. The city was built many villas, wide roads, health centres, golf courses, parks, schools and houses. A power station, a water station, a hospital and a market were also built.
DALAT BECAME A CITY IN 1930
In 1930, Dalat became a town, officially inhabited by 6 French, 2 Vietnamese and 1 Chinese. According to some sources, the name Dalat is derived from the Latin phrase “Dat Aliis Laetitiam Aliis Temperiem” used by the French colonial government on Dalat’s official logo. This is supposed to mean joy to some and freshness to others. Lat is also name of the local tribe of Dalat.
In 1932, the Dalat – Saigon trunk line was opened via the Blao mountain pass. The rate of construction in Dalat was quite remarkable. For example, the number of villas in Dalat had grown to 327 villas in 1936 and to 427 by 1939. In 1937, a marketing campaign was launched by the French to promote Dalat as a resort town of high quality, apart from Hanoi and Saigon, with activities for medical, sports, recreational and hunting enthusiasts.
In 1938 the Dalat railway station was completed, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron in the Art Deco style, incorporating the high pointed roofs characteristic of Vietnamese Cao Nguyen buildings. The construction of the Dalat – Tháp Chàme (Phan Rang) railway was complicated by its terrain, which was difficult to build as it required the construction of 5 tunnels.
During the Vietnam War fought by the Viet Cong army in South Vietnam, fierce battles rocked Dalat from 31 January to 9 February 1968. The Viet Cong army actively mined and bombed the railway which was destroyed by this fighting. After the Vietnam War, the railroad was completely rusted away. In the 1990s, 7 kilometres of it were rebuilt to the village of Trai Mat, which is now a tourist attraction.
By 1940, the population of Dalat had risen to 11,500 people, mainly made up of local builders, farm labourers and other service workers. Dalat was then divided in two, with the French living on the south bank of the Cam Ly stream, and the locals on the north bank. The French population consisted mainly of civilians, military personnel, missionaries, some school teachers and students.
During the Second World War, Dalat was the capital of the Indochinese Federation from 1939 to 1945. On 3 April 1975, Dalat surrendered to the North Vietnam Liberation Army without any fighting. However, Dalat never became as successful as similar colonies such as British Simla in India and Dutch Bogor in Indonesia.