300-year-old pagoda a spiritual beacon in central Vietnam

By Huu Khoa, Linh Pham   January 28, 2020 | 09:36 am GMT+7

Atop Thien An Mountain in Quang Ngai Province, Thien An Pagoda is a site rich in history, relics and legends.

ThIen An Pagoda rises 100 m above sea level and is surrounded by densed forest with an area of about one hectare.Completed in one year after construction began in 1964, Thien An is one of the oldest pagodas in Quang Ngai.

Thien An Pagoda in Tinh An Dong Commune, Quang Ngai Town stands at 100 m above sea level amidst a dense forest. Built 1694-1695, the pagoda is one of the oldest sacred places in town. 

A drone shot that shows the zig-zag path leading the mountaintop. According to the local legend, locals only gathered firewood at the bottom of the mountain to avoid wild animals such as tigers. One day, the group discovered a trail up the mountain and followed it. On their way, the group met Master Phap Hoa, an ancinet Buddha who drafted up this mountain, who was there to practice meditation. He exudes compassion and wisdom and taught people about Buddhism and morals in life. Later, more and more people came to worship and to listen to the Buddhas teachings, Venerable Thich Dong Hoang, Vice Head said the temple.  The reputation of the temple and Zen master spread to Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu, a devout Buddhist. In 1717, the Lord gave the pagoda a rank of Sac Tu Thien An Tu

A drone shot shows the path leading the mountaintop. 

It is said that residents only gathered firewood at the bottom of the mountain to avoid wild encounters with animals like tigers. One day, a group of people discovered a trail up the mountain and followed it. On their way, they met Phap Hoa, a Buddhasattva, who was practicing meditation.

Thich Dong Hoang, the pagoda's abbot, said: "He exuded compassion and wisdom and taught people about Buddhism and morals in life. Later, more and more people came to worship and to listen to the Buddha's teachings."

Phap Hoa’s fame reached the ears of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu, a devout Buddhist. In 1717, the lord gave the pagoda its official title, Sac Tu Thien An Tu.

The main gate of the pagoda is filled with intricate details with two dragon symbols and a Buddha statue plays as the gate guardian.

The main gate of the pagoda with traditional motifs of dragons, lions and a deity on guard.

Tombs and burial places of monks and abbots who passed away inside the pagoda have the shape of the lotus.

Tombs and burial places of monks and abbots in the pagoda are shaped like lotuses. 

The famous holy well still retains its original structure.Legend has it that as more people visit this place to learn about Buddhism, a abbot dug the well to provide water to woshippers. In his dream, the abbott were told to dig a well on the east side of the pagoda where he will find a big rock that has water underneath. But it was very difficult to pry the rock. At that time, a young monk appeared and said he would help with digging the well. When the groundwater gushed up, the old abbott dropped was tired and drank the water to quench his thirst. Once he calmed down, the abboot found the young monk disappeared.

The pagoda is home to a sacred well that is still in its original condition.

Legend has it that as more people visited this place to learn about Buddhism, an abbot dug the well to provide water to them. In his dream, the abbott was told to dig a well on the east side of the pagoda. The abbot was told that there was water under a big rock. But it was very difficult to dislodge the rock. At that time, a young monk appeared and said he would help with digging the well. When the groundwater gushed up, the old abbott dropped to the ground, tired, and drank the water to quench his thirst. He realized then that the young monk had disappeared.

The well, built of laterite, is about 21 m deep and has a diameter of more than 2 m.

The well, built of laterite, is about 21 m deep and has a diameter of more than 2 m.

The iron bell was cast in Chi Tuong Village, now is in Duc Hiep Commune, Mo Duc District.According to the legend, This bell did not make any sounds when finished. In 1845, Bao An, the third abbott of the temple, was meditating when he saw a he was instructed by a spirit to bring to the bell to Chi Tuong Village. After the abbott did that and sent prayers, the bell rang loud throughout the region.

The iron bell was cast in Chi Tuong Village, now is in Duc Hiep Commune, Mo Duc District.

The story goes that the bell did not make any sound when it was finished. In 1845, Bao An, the third abbott of the pagoda, was meditating when he was instructed by a spirit to bring the bell in Chi Tuong Village to the pagoda. After the abbott did so, the bell rang loud and clear throughout the region.

A close up shot of the bells nop with dragon symbols.

A close up shot of the bell's handle with dragon symbols.

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Locals come to the pagoda to pray on different occassions, including the first and 15th day of the lunar month. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has recognized the pagoda as a national heritage site since 1990.

A statue of the Buddha inside the pagoda.

A statue of the Buddha in the pagoda premises.

Visitors to the Thien An Mountain can also stop and pay respect to the tomb of Huynh Thuc Khang, acting President of the nascent Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1946 and stood in for President Ho Chi Minh during his time in France for peace talks, also locating on the mountaintop.

Visitors to the Thien An Mountain can also stop and pay respects at the tomb of Huynh Thuc Khang, acting President of the nascent Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1946 who stood in for President Ho Chi Minh when the latter was in France for peace talks.

 
 
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