Being a visitor of Dargilan you're captured by the impressive dimensions and the variety of its accentuated natural colored formations. The original entrance, discovered in 1880 by a shepherd who hunted a fox, does not annouce the importance of the rooms which await the visitor. This underground maze, revealed in 1888 by Edouard Alfred Martel and arranged the first time in 1890, made of Dargilan the first cave open to the public.
Dargilan, means diversity.
Once entered, an immense room with collapsed interlaced rocks of 60 meters, leaves you amazed. Here and there, in this chaos, scintillate many stalagmites of all sizes in stade of construction. On the huge vault a multitude of "soda straws" hang. On the south, a room of more reduced size but richly decorated, shelters a beautiful column. The visit continues in the bed of a anscient underground river with a succession of rooms as varied as sintered. Here, the waterdrops depose its marks of calcite patiently. In this way, these marks are transformed into impressive columns of which the Bell-tower is the master piece. These formations flow along the walls and create huge or more delicate draperies (Elephant-ears, frozen waterfalls).
Dargilan, the pink cave on the Causse Noir.
A particular concentration of iron-oxide and other organic matter gives in this part of the karst a very varied colour to the formations. It's an astonishing succession of ocres, yellows, of saffron and pinks. As if, being in full obscurity since its birth, the cave had dreamed about a real sunset.
The cave was completely ignored in this area, untill towards the end of the autumn of 1880 the young Sahuquet penetrated into the cave. Being a young shepherd, he was guarding the herd of one of the nearby farmers. One day, he saw a fox penetrating into a crack in the rocks and, being a hunter by instinct, as any shepherd caussenard who respects himself, he put into his mind the task of capturing the fox.
After several hours of work, he realized that the crack was widening, passed soon himself through the increasing opening and in fact he has entered in the first room. Very frightened by the first stalagmites he saw, it is said that, because of "phantoms" and the resonance of his own voice in the immense obscure hole, he did not continue.
At that time arrived in the area the young 24 year old geographer, E.A MARTEL, who inspected the large room of the entry, in which he found the existence of five deep wells. In order to make methodical exploration of the cave, quite some material was necessary and a complete and detailed visit of the large room and other parts of the cave took only place in 1888, an outstanding year for speleology.
Ever since many people came to see the marvellous cave. In 1891, the property of Dargilan was transferred to Mr Schitz and Consorts who decided to organised regular visits. The Company that they formed for this purpose, was called Picturesque France. It was replaced by the "Company of the Gorges of the Tarn", and later-on Limited company of Dargilan. In 1910, electric cables were installed, allowing a successive lighting of all the rooms. Currently,
Dargilan is one of the caves best arranged than one can visit. Thanks to the work carried out in 1982 by Mr. Ephrem PASSET, with modern technology, the visitor can visit the cave on a length of 1 km.
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