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|Tourists enjoy boat tour to Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex (Photo: VNA)|
It draws pilgrims and tourists who come to contemplate the unique architecture, enjoy the spectacular landscape and learn more about Buddhism.
Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex or Tam Chuc Buddhism Culture Centre is located in Kim Bang district, Ha Nam province, about 1.5 hours driving from central Hanoi.
It’s accessible by cars or bikes as it’s 10km from the centre of Phu Ly town, Ha Nam. The site hosted the 16th United Day of Vesak (Buddha's Birthday, Enlightenment and Passing Away) celebrations last year.
The site sits on the foundations of an ancient Tam Chuc Pagoda dating back to the Dinh Dynasty more than 1,000 years ago. Some parts of the new pagoda complex are under construction. The three-gate entrance looks imposing with architecture akin to an old citadel.
From the wharf, tourists get on boats with roofs designed like traditional temple roofs to reach the main area. On the way, they can enjoy the view of Luc Nhac (Six Bells) Lake. The lake comprises six islands, which legend has it are six bells brought down from heaven.
The Tam Chuc complex covers 5,100ha, of which the pagoda takes up 144ha divided into many parts, such as the Jade pagoda on the peak of That Tinh (Seven Stars) Mountain, Tam Chuc Temple, Tam the Pagoda (The Main Hall of Buddhas of the Three Times), Kwuan Yin Shrine and Shakyamuni Shrine where the heaviest Buddha statue in Southeast Asia (200 tonnes) is found.
Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex is built and decorated with sophisticated details. To reach the peak of That Tinh Mountain, tourists pass Vuon Kinh (Garden of Sutras), a monumental construction of 99 stone pillars. Each stands 13.5m high and weighs 200 tonnes.
It may take one day to view all of Tam The Pagoda. Apart from three giant Buddha statues weighing 80 tonnes each carved with gold inlaid bodhi leaves behind, the pagoda displays 12,000 murals depicting legends of Buddha carved on volcano rock by Indonesian artisans.
The 13m-high Jade Pagoda is considered a masterpiece of stone architecture. The entire structure is made of red granite weighing more than 2,000 tonnes, with no cement used in its joints. From Jade Pagoda, visitors can enjoy an aerial view of the entire complex. Pilgrims walk on 200 steps to reach the peak where the pagoda is located.
Visitors can use electric cars to discover the whole complex, with round trip tickets costing 200,000 VND (8.7 USD).
Tourists can now also go kayaking at Tam Chuc Wharf, as well as enjoy afternoon tea on a boat between 4.30pm and 6.30pm everyday.
Le Xuan Huy, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex is the highlight of Ha Nam tourism.
“We have worked closely with travel agents and neighbouring provinces to boost local tourism, and revive the economy after the pandemic,” he said at a conference boosting tourism held last week.
“When the pandemic is under control, reviving tourism is very important. Tam Chuc Pagoda Complex is the highlighted destination as it’s an important religious site and has beautiful landscape. It connects other destinations nearby such as Huong Pagoda Complex and Trang An – Bai Dinh Complex.”