Tam Chuc Pagoda
Inaugurated in May 2019, Tam Chuc Pagoda has attracted a large number of Buddhist followers and visitors thanks to its impressive architecture and spectacular landscapes. This is one of the tourist areas approved by the Prime Minister as a national key tourist area, promoting the development of the spiritual tourism. Only 1,5 hours driving from Hanoi, Tam Chuc Pagoda is an ideal place for a day trip to temporarily get away from hectic life. Let’s check out this largest pagoda in Southeast Asia.
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Tam Chuc is a special religious tourist site in an awe-inspiring landscape, with its front facing the lake while the back leaning into the mountain. The whole complex has a total area of nearly 5,000 hectares, of which Tam Chuc Pagoda covers 144 hectares with many works.
Legend has it that there were 7 fairies from the heaven going to Tam Chuc Mountain area to wander the earth. The charming scenery was extremely beautiful that they forgot to return home even though God of Heaven rang 6 bells to call them. Hence, you may recognize the 6 islets on the lake in front of Tam Chuc Pagoda symbolize the 6 bells while 7 mountains behind pagoda symbolize the seven fairies.
Architecture of Tam Chuc Pagoda
Tam Chuc Pagoda is being built on the foundation of the ancient pagoda in Dinh Dynasty dating back more than 1,000 years ago. Some parts of the new pagoda complex are under construction. Following the traditional Vietnamese architecture of Buddhist pagodas, Tam Chuc Pagoda includes Cong Tam Quan (the three-arched-entrances gate), Dien Quan Am, Dien Tam The (The Main Hall of Buddha of the Three Times), Dien Phap Chu, Chua Ngoc (Jade Pagoda). Inside these places are gigantic Buddhist statues carved skillfully.
Dien Tam The (The Main Hall of Buddha of the Three Times)
This is the largest building in the Tam Chuc Complex. There are three colossal black bronze Buddha statues placed in the temple, representing the past, present, and future. Each of these statues weighs about 80 tons and is decorated with a gold plated Bodhi leaf at its back. Dien Tam The consists of a floor area of 5,100 square meters that can accommodate up to 1,500 people. Besides, the pagoda displays 12,000 murals depicting legends of Buddha carved on volcano rock by Indonesian artisans.
Dien Phap Chu: Dien Phap Chu is located under Dien Tam The. The highlight in the temple is the 4 large reliefs covering the statues. Each relief depicts a turning point in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, from his birth, enlightenment, sermon and nirvana.
Dien Quan Am: Dien Quan Am is placed the gigantic Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue. The image is totally made from bronze and weighs up to 100 tons.
Jade Pagoda is the final place to visit in the complex. It has 3 storeys with curved roof and is built on top of the That Tinh Mountain. This 13-meter-high Jade Pagoda captivates visitors with its seamless red granite structure. Inside the pagoda, there is a ruby statue of the Amitabha Buddha weighing 4,000 kg. All the rubies used to make the statue was imported from Myanmar. Tourists have to climb 299 stone steps to reach the pagoda but it is worth to admire the panoramic view of landscape created by imposing nature and impressive structures built by human hands.
Garden of Sutras
This is home to 99 stone pillars engraved with Buddhist scriptures. Each pillar weighs about 200 tons and is 13.5 meters high.
How to get to Tam Chuc Pagoda
Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex is located in Ba Sao Town, Kim Bang District, Ha Nam province, just 60km from the capital city of Hanoi. Visitors have many choices of transportation to reach Tam Chuc Pagoda such as public bus, motorbike or private car. The average transferring time is about 1,5 hours from Hanoi and it is perfect for a weekend trip.
Public bus: From Giap Bat Bus Station, you can catch the Giap Bat – Phu Ly bus. The bus runs every 15 minutes and one-way ticket costs you only 35,000 VND. After about 1 hour, you will reach Phu Ly Bus Station where you continue to take a motorbike-taxi or taxi to get to Tam Chuc Pagoda (20 km).
Motorbike: As the short distance, you can drive to Tam Chuc Pagoda directly by motorbike. Following the National Highway 1A over Cau Gie – Ninh Binh and then go straight to Ha Nam Province. Remember to bring your driving license, wear the helmet and obey the traffic rules, otherwise you will be caught since there are many police officers on the way.
Private car: It is better to book a private car with driver for your day trip to visit Tam Chuc Pagoda, especially for those who travel in a group or with the old. This option is much safer and comfortable than the other two options.
Tips for visiting Tam Chuc Pagoda
– From the wharf, nearby the parking lot, tourists can take the electric car or boat to reach the main area. The price of round-trip electric car is 90,000 VND/ turn and round-trip boat ticket costing 200,000 VND.
– Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex is next to several famous cultural and scenic spots such as Bai Dinh Pagoda and Perfume Pagoda, forming a “Golden Triangle” of the top spiritual and ecological tourist area in North Vietnam. You may combine visiting those magnificent pagodas on your tour.
– As the spiritual place, you should wear proper clothes, no tank tops or shorts. It is recommended to have a scarf in your bag and show your respect to the monks.
– Visitors can also go kayaking at Tam Chuc Wharf as well as enjoy afternoon tea on boat between 16:30 – 18:30 every day.
– Opening hours: 6:00 – 18:00, from Monday to Sunday.
– Entrance fee: Free.