The central city of Hue is famed for its ancient palaces, mausoleums, pagodas and temples, and one of the most impressive destinations in the former imperial capital is Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda.
The pagoda is located in Dong Cham Village, Huong Ho Commune, Huong Tra District of Thua Thien Hue Province, some 10km west of Hue City’s centre.
The path to the pagoda goes up a hill amidst the cool fresh air and green trees; it's a place where the normal hustle and bustle of life seems far away.
|Visitors can find a tranquil place to escape from hustle and bustle. — Photo cattour.vn|
Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda is of the Nam Tong (Khmer Theravada) Buddhism school, which was built in 1989 by Venerable Gioi Duc and through the contributions of monks and Buddhist followers.
According to locals, the original Huyen Khong Pagoda is situated in the village at the foot of the mountain.
Venerable Giới Đức or Minh Đức Triều Tâm Ảnh, who used to manage the original Huyền Không Pagoda at the foot of the mountain, left the old pagoda and went up the mountain to plant 50ha of forest and raised funds to build Huyền Không Sơn Thượng Pagoda there 20 years ago.
|An aerial view of the pagoda. Photo wowweekend.vn|
He is also a famed poet and calligrapher in the locality.
The pagoda is located 300m above the sea level and the total area is more than 10,000sq.m, including praying halls and monks’ rooms.
“I felt as if I were in a legendary scene with tranquil lakes decorated by water lilies flowers and white swans,” said Minh Trang, a visitor from Hanoi.
A wooden bridge leads to the main yard, where 500 orchid baskets are hung from the big trees.
|A lotus pond inside the pagoda. — Photo chudu24.com|
“The flowers, trees and simple architecture created by bamboo decoration objects make people think of a classical space of culture, a meeting place for poets rather than a solemn pagoda,” commented Ha Thu Phuong, another visitor from Hanoi.
The main praying hall itself is not in the normal pagoda style with a concrete stable wall, wooden pillars and cement altar platform.
The main praying hall looks more like a small house, with low ceiling and gaps between the roof and wall, letting wind flow through it.
|A tranquil surrounding. — Photo phununews.vn|
A monk from Da Nang, who preferred to be unnamed, noted that the simple architecture makes people feel the Buddha statue in the middle of the hall is set in nature, mingling with the universe.
“After praying, I feel familiar with room corners, trees in the yard,” he said.
The area also has a reading room to the left and a living room for monks to the right.
Further behind the main praying hall is a bamboo garden by a lake, where writers and calligraphers often hang out.
Scattered here and there in the garden are calligraphic works carved on wood or stone with Buddha’s teachings and famed verses by noted poets.
There are also some stone sculptures made by late artist Diem Phung Thi (1920-2002).
|Green scenery can inspire poetry. — Photo huongriver.com|
On an island in the middle of Hàm Nguyệt Trì Lake nearby is a pine forest with big trees, which hosts calligraphy exhibitions during festivals.
A bamboo light holder is attached to each pine tree. At night, oil lamps are put on the holders for light and to create a dreamy scene for the site.
“I spend a morning here whenever I visit Hue,” said visitor Dinh Long, from Quang Nam Province. “I feel easy inside, temporarily forgetting sorrows. The pagoda is not only a beauty spot but also a recreational place for busy travellers.”
|A statue of reclining Buddha at the pagoda. — Photo phununews.vn|
Phung Minh Nguyet, a local student, said she and her friends often visit the pagoda at the weekend.
“Sometimes my school organises field trips here for a day to visit other destinations nearby,” she said. “We stop here for lunch in the pine forest. We have a good time here all the time.” — VNS
Tran Hoang Nam
Hue has long been known as a land of poetry as the central city is not only the cradle for the art form in Vietnam, but has also been home to many renowned poets throughout its history.
Located on Ha Khe Hill, on the northen bank of the Huong River, some 5km from the downtown area of Hue, Thien Mu was the oldest pagoda, the capital of Viet Nam under the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945).