Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi
Since the reign of king Le Trung Hung (XVI century), every king in the Le dynasty, and Lord Trinh have all contributed to the beautification of the lake. Lord Trinh Giang built Khanh Thuy shrine on Ngoc island on the north end of the lake. He also had the two man made hills built across from Ngoc son Shrine.
At the end of the Le Dynasty, Khanh Thuy was destroyed by Chieu Thong. A philanthropist named Tin Trai built Ngoc Son pagoda. Ngoc Son pagoda was renamed Ngoc Son shrine during the reign of Thieu Tri III (1843) because it was no longer a Buddhist shrine. Instead, Ngoc Son is a shrine to Van Xuong, a deity, in charge of literature and the various tests required to become a mandarin. It is also a shrine to general Tran Hung Dao, a national hero responsible for many victories against the Mongols.
Since then Ngoc Son has gone through many renovations, one of which was the addition of Thap But (Pen Tower) on the hill which was once called Dao Tai. Three words inscribed on the tower “Ta Thien Thanh” or “write on blue sky”. Inside the gate a pool resembling the shape of an ink well was added. Beyond the ink well is The Huc bridge or “where the sun light is absorbed”. The bridge leads to Dac Nguyet Lau or “Moon Light tower” – Ngoc Son shrine. Beyond the gates to the shrine, there are two walls called bang Rong and bang Ho (dragon and tiger slate) where the names of those who passed the national test are inscribed.
On the southwest end of the lake is Thap Rua. It was rumored that king Le Thanh Tong used to fish here. Lord Trinh also built the structure to house his entourage while visiting the lake.
Features of Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi
– Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi is a shrine situated amidst soulful placidity.
– The name of the temple literally means ‘Jade Mountain’.
– One of Hanoi’s most picturesque temples, the temple honors some scholars and military heroes.
– This shrine is dedicated to the 13th c military hero Tran Hung Dao, the scholar Van Xuong and to Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian artist who offered his duty for restoring the temple and the surrounding areas in 1864.
– Nguyen Van Sieu helped to build both the Thap But and the Dai Nghien.
– Thap But is a 30-ft stone structure whose tip resembles a brush. It is also known as the Pen Tower.
– Dai Nghien is a nearby rock hollowed in the shape of a peach, commonly known as the Writing Pad.
– You have to walk through the Three-Passage Gate or Tam Quan and across the Flood of Morning Sunlight Bridge or The Huc to reach the temple.
– The island temple opens onto a small courtyard where old men are engaged in the game of danh co tuong or Chinese chess.
– There is a 6-ft-long stuffed tortoise in the pagoda’s anteroom.
– This turtle was found from the Hoan Kiem Lake in 1968 by the local people.
– The belief is that the creature is old enough to be the legendary turtle of the lake’s mythology.
– These days, souvenir and art shops do brisk business alongside the historic and religious displays.
– The island has an air of tranquility which helps to escape the noisy streets surrounding the lake.
Vietnamese Buddhism: Ngoc Son Temple – Hanoi
Galery Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi
Gate to Ngoc Son Temple
The Huc Bridge
Thap But – mean to write on the blue sky
On the way to the temple there are several parallel sentences (cau doi), written on the walls. These cau doi were part of traditional word puzzles played by educated individuals.