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Huong Pagoda: a Buddhist temple complex at Vietnam

By Devik Balami at

Huong Pagoda is a Buddhist temple complex built into the limestone of Huong Tich Mountains, Vietnam. This temple complex is one of the sites of attraction not only for the Buddhist pilgrims but also for the tourists. The central attraction of this temple complex is the Perfume Temple, which is also known as Chua Trong or Inner Temple which is located in Huong Tich Cave.

Historical Background

Legend explains the site was discovered by a monk who meditated in this area. The monk then named the area after the name of sacred Tibetan mountain which is believed to be the place where Gautama Buddha practiced asceticism. Therefore the site holds the sacredness in itself. Regarding the construction of the buildings, it is believed that the first temple was a small structure on the current site of Thien Tru which existed during the reign of Le Thanh Tong in the 15th century. The inscriptions found in the area mention the building, stone steps and Kim Dung shrine dates to a late 17th century during the reign of Le Hy Tong. Throughout the time, some of the structures were damaged but were renovated and replaced. The original statue of Buddha and Boddhisattava, Quan Am (Avalokitesvara) were constructed in bronze in the mid-18th century. It was destroyed later in the year but was replaced with the statues in 1793. During the French and American wars, the temple complex was destroyed again but was renovated in different periods. The bell tower was rebuilt in the 1986 CE and the gate in 1994 CE.

Features of Huong Pagoda, a Buddhist Temple Complex

The Buddhist shrines and Temples are spread out in the limestone hills and tropical forests in the Huong Mountains. The most important of them are as follows.

Den Trinh

Den Trinh is also known as Den Quan Lon or Shrine of High-ranking Mandarin. It was built for one of the generals of Hung King. At the entrance of the shrine, it possesses a kneeling elephant statue on either side of the gate and it has a large ceremonial room inside the shrine.

Thien Tru Pagoda

This Pagoda is also known as Chua Ngoai or the outer Pagoda. The Pagoda houses a large statue of Quan Am Nam Hai. He is one of the forms of Boddhisattava Avalokhetishara. This Pagoda also houses a bell tower and the hall of the Triple Gem. Near the Pagoda, there also lies Thien Thuy stupa, a naturally occurring structure formed due to the result of erosion of a rocky hill.

Giai Oan Pagoda

Gian Oan Pagoda is in between the Thien Tru Pagoda and Huong Tich cave. This Pagoda is also called Clearing Unjust Charges Pagoda. In this area, we can find a pond named Thien Nhien Thanh Tri or Natural Blue Pond. This pond is also called as Long Tuyen Well.

Huong Tich Cave

The main center of attraction of Huong Pagoda is the Huong Tich Cave. The mouth of the cave has the appearance like that of dragon's mouth while it’s open. The mouth of the cave is carved with Chu Nho characters. When these characters are translated then it means the foremost cave under the Southern Heavens. It is believed that these characters were carved in the mouth of the cave by the ruler Thinh Do Vuong Trinh Sam in the late 18th century. This cave houses the temple, Chua Trong and other statues. The largest statue among them is the Buddha statue dedicated to Gautam Buddha. Another statue is the statue of Quan Am. Both of this statue is made up of green stone. Along with this statue, there are statues of Arhats and other figures.

Other sites in the Huong Pagoda complex are Thien Son Pagoda, Thuyet Kind Grotto, Phat Tich Temple, and Vong Temple.