Located 20 kilometers west of Iseyin and with Benin Republic to its other bight, the richly historic town of Adó Àwáyè in Oyo state is a pride to behold from every angle possible. The rich history aside, Ado Awaye has an abundance of naturally-occurring wonders that leave every visitor stung and struck with awe!
It all started with Kòyí in 1500 AD, Alaafin’s crown prince; it was he who fortuitously founded Adó Àwáyè while departing Oyo for Òtà in the anger of losing the Alaafin throne to his younger brother, Onígbògì. On getting to this location and with a crown strapped to his loins, he saw some smoke atop a hill, reached for it, and met some Dahomey escapees who eventually sought his leadership as king. He became the first Alado of Adó Àwáyè, and the rest as they say, is ‘awe-inspiring’ history.
There are 16 wondrous hills that stare at you from any point inside Adó Àwáyè, each with 16 domiciled gods to boot and a each with its signature (hi)story; most notable of all is the amazing stretch of the Ado Awaye Hill.
And, of the many wonders in this town and particularly on the Ado Awaye hill, one that stands out is the second only of its kind suspended lake in the world, named the Ìyàké lake, which sits gloriously atop the hill, some 2,000 meters up. For anyone who enjoys good health, it’ll take about 90 minutes to firstly climb the 350 steps and then navigate the rocky outcrops and shrubs, to get to where Ìyàké lake is atop this hill.
The Ìyàké lake is simply beautiful to behold in its mythical and mystical marvel. It is about 4 metres in diameter, green in colour at sight (NOT algae-induced) but clear when fetched into containers, and according to the natives, this lake is reportedly depthless/bottomless. While speaking with the present Alado of Ado Awaye, Oba Ademola Folakanmi, Makuledoye II, he cited the many mysteries of the Ìyàké lake, which include its age-long fertility powers, its bottomlessness, and the fact that it never overflows or drops beneath it bounds irrespective of the amount of rain or drought, respectively.
Swimming inside the Ìyàké lake is strictly forbidden, obviously because of its reverent depthless-ness, and partly because the locals believe there’s another world beneath it; in fact, foreigners and tourists are not allowed to touch the water, any attempt to defy that is at the risk of being “swallowed” whole by the lake, like that “oyinbo man that tried it and has never been seen since”. This above is according to Ìyàké gospel recited and intoned eerily by the Oba and the locals. But, locals who have endured necessary rites can fetch the water for visitors who desire a scoop to enjoy its famed powers.
Just some inches away from this famous Ìyàké suspended lake, is a mini-me version of it, called the “Agbómofún’yàké lake”, a similarly awesome sight to behold. It also has all the mystical ‘depthless, don’t touch, don’t dip, don’t place your foot’ trappings possessed by the former, and it actually got its name from that. Agbómofún’yàké, meaning, give the child (read prey) to Ìyàké; defy and suffer same “swallow whole” consequences.
[*a suspended or hanging lake is one on a mountain, hill, cliff etc that has no obvious source. There are just two of such in the entire world, the other is the Hanging Lake Hiking Trail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, USA]
Then, there is the Ìsàgè Hill, another striking sight as you approach the hill’s peak. It fits as the horn of the hills combined, as it is seen standing with little or no visible support. Mystically, it is said that no push or shove, nor heavy wind or rain, can throw it off its stand. In short, Ìsàgè Hill doesn’t fall, and that has earned it a god-like status among the natives therein. To them, pray to Ìsàgè and get instant answers sent via fibre optic cable!
There’s also the Ìsàtá Hill, a twin-set hill, seen across the monstrous Ado Awaye one. This one is where every Alado, the king, must climb and inhabit for specified days, to fully invoke and inhale the protective powers of the hill as a rite.
The topmost part of the Adó Àwáyè is a place called “Esèkan Ikú“, translated the cusp of death! Ha-ha, don’t be scared, but, only men abundant in the coins of gallantry and shillings of endurance can reach this particular spot oh. The view from Esèkan Ikú will embarrass one’s curiosity, no doubt; you gain a full view of the entire rocky outcrop of Ado Awaye at a mere glance, the 16 notable ones especially, together with the whole range of hills lying towards the Benin Republic border. I got here, sat, took that awesome picture, and I knew I’ve made it! 😂
Another wonder atop Ado Awaye hill is the “Esè àwon Àgbà” (Foot prints of the elders); these massive, truly foot-like indentations engraved on the rocky spread, about 100 of them. Any generation-Z lad who knows his/her Hollywood will quickly ascribe these marks to Tyrannosaurus Rex without bating an eye, but not in the ears of the average Ado-Awaye-an. These are foot marks of roving gods, elders, who ages ago, found abode atop the hill.
The Elephant Tree is another mystic on the Ado Awaye hill. The locals that serve as tour guides term it a must-see. It is said to have dropped from the sky and took this truly elephantine morph upon impact. Errrr, I believe! 😂
But, yes, it’s a truly intriguing sight.
Other attractions on Ado-Awaye include the abyssal “Esè kan Aiyé, Esè kan Òrun” crack, a deep crack that separates one side of the mountain from the other; one dare not drop foot here, e go be like, “boy, bye”. Then, the Màje Kànkàn Shrine where every new king of Ado Awaye must also visit for rites; the Ìyá Onírú Lake, which is located on the other side of the mountain, it is a shallow mountain that never dries up too, and then the Ìyá-Aláró lake, another mystical lake named after a woman, a native, given to making festive sacrifices.
In all, these inimitable wonders in Adó Àwáyè, especially the ones seen atop and from the Ado Awaye Hill itself, leave one awestruck for days, with an indelible mark of nature’s bliss beautifully carved into the memory.
Why am I telling you this?
- Live; do something a lil’ scary, test your limits and have fun while at it. 👌🏿
- Visit Ado Awaye. 😍
- The state government is planing something huge to harness these tourism potentials into socioeconomic kinetics 👍🏿
Lastly, I restate, the Ìyàké lake is the most beautiful sight I’ve beheld so far this year, apologies to all the fine ladies abeg, Ìyàké is just the ‘baest’ of y’all!
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