Photographer's Note

Tsaranoro Massif,

The elderly of the village tell the story that the name Tsaranoro originated at around 1820. During the fights of the Betsileo people versus the Merina people (who wanted to overthrow the neighbouring kingdoms) King Sahanambo fled in the nearby highlands to escape from the intruders. He found a cave, large enough to home him and his closest followers. Out of security reasons he barricated the entrance with stones for several months until food supplies ran short.

There was no other chance of survival than trying to obtain provisions in the valley. To avoid raising suspicion with the Merina people, the king decided to send his two sisters Ratsara and Ranoro to organise food supplies. The cave was opened to let them out and carefully closed after them. The sisters descended to the valley and found the necessary provisions without problems. Thus, they returned a lot earlier than expected and found the cave still blocked. They shouted and knocked, but nobody opened. They had enough food to eat but nothing to drink. Therefore they had to eat uncooked rice and became weaker from day to day until they finally died of thirst.

A few days later, when the king opened the cave, he found the two sisters dead. In honour of Ratsara and Ranoro the king named the highest rock "Tsaranoro" and the three rocks on the left "Vatovoarindrina", which means closed stone gates. Since those times it is fady (taboo) to talk in the sacred forest about the Merina people on the fringes of Tsaranoro.

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Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 0 N: 330] (1812)
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