Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Jyväskylä: Devil's Cave, Laajavuori

What are the rocks whispering? Stories and memories of days gone by? How did the Devil's Cave (Pirunluola in Finnish) get its name?

I've never visited a Devil's Cave (believe me, this is not the only of its kind in Finland) so it's time to hunt it down. My sources tell me that it can be found somewhere in the vicinity of Haukkala Spring, at Laajavuori, so after reaching Kortepohja I keep on walking to Haukkalantie road which runs parallel to Laajavuorentie, only closer to lake Tuomiojärvi. However, as soon as I arrive at Haukkalantie road I leave it and turn left, take a narrow path to the forest and start looking.

There are quite a few tracks meandering in the moss-covered forest but if you are looking for a cave, you know you have to head for the rocks.
Soon I find myself right below the Spa Hotel Laajavuori and its huge windows. This looks like a promising area for cave-hunting - the rocks are steep enough. It seems to be my lucky day because in no time do I find the entrance to Devil's Cave!
The entrance to the cave is very narrow but once inside, I'm surprised. The cave is by no means huge but it is not tiny either: this Devil's Cave is a couple of meters long. You don't feel claustrophobic at all.
Rock paintings are my favourites, but I must admit I prefer the ancient ones dating to the Bronze Age to the graffiti-like paintings from the past few decades that are found here. This one could be a modern version of a typical old Finnish rock painting - an elk. But who the devil was the artist?
At the other end of the cave there are two narrow openings that let in sunlight. I have no desire to try to squeeze myself a little bit further along the right 'corridor' because I'm sure I would only get stuck or rip my jacket. This is pretty much as far as you can go. I am certain that quite a few visitors must have spent a longer time here, perhaps hiding, or taking shelter from the rain, or even sleeping (judgding by the the remains of a styrofoam sheet). Unfortunately I don't have a plastic bag with me, to take the trash with me.
So that is Devil's Cave, Laajavuori, Jyväskylä. I still don't have an explanation for the devilish name, but who cares. Devils or demons have been called by different names (for example piru, hiisi, hitto) in Finnish over time and especially rocky areas may have places named after the evil one. This Pirunluola cave isn't marked on the map and it isn't signposted either so you really have to know where to look for it; few locals know about it either. However, it is literally just a stone's throw from the Laajavuori Spa Hotel. Just don't throw a stone at a sleeping devil!