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Intriguing Historical Site In Ninh Binh Vietnam - Visit Thai Vi Temple

Nestled amid the captivating scenery of limestone mountains, picturesque rice fields, and serene lakes, Thai Vi Temple is a destination that captivates the hearts of all who visit. Its ancient architectural beauty harmoniously blends with the peaceful surroundings, creating a place of timeless allure. As the Tran Dynasty marked a glorious era for Buddhism in Vietnam, especially during the reign of King Tran Thai Tong, the temple stands as a living testament to this historical legacy. Within the Vu Lam Palace, Thai Vi Temple stands out as a rare and remarkably preserved gem. It must be an unforgettable experience if you visit Thai Vi Temple, especially at your first time.

1. Vu Lam Palace - The record of a bygone heroic era

Vu Lam Palace

The historical site of Hành Cung Vũ Lâm (Vu Lam Palace) is currently spread across four communes: Ninh Hai, Ninh Thang, Ninh Xuan, and Ninh Van in Hoa Lu district, situated in the southern part of the scenic Trang An landscape. Similar to the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Vu Lam Palace encompasses the mountainous region and caves of Trang An, adorned with historical relics. Spanning a considerable area, this historical site includes numerous historical landmarks.
Vu Lam Palace served as a military base during the Tran Dynasty, situated in the southern mountainous region of the ancient capital Hoa Lu, playing a crucial role in resisting the second invasion by the Mongol army. This location is also associated with the significant event of the Tran kings' spiritual journey and the expansion of Buddhism. Today, Vu Lam Palace is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Trang An, situated deep within the Trang An mountain range. Vu Lam Palace serves as the core area of the Trang An scenic complex, acknowledged by UNESCO as a combined cultural and natural heritage of the world.
Nestled within the enchanting Vu Lam Palace, Thai Vi Temple stands out for its distinctive architectural charm and serene, romantic surroundings. This sacred site is dedicated to honoring the revered figures of the Tran Dynasty, including King Tran Thai Tong, King Tran Nhan Tong, King Tran Thanh Tong, and King Tran Anh Tong, as well as esteemed Generals like Tran Quang Khai and Tran Hung Dao, and Queen Thuan Thien. A visit to Thai Vi Temple Ninh Binh will give you a delightful opportunity to immerse yourself in the heroic historical legacy of the Tran feudal dynasty.

2. A distinctive feature in terms of Feng Shui in Thai Vi Temple

The picturesque view of Ngo Dong River
After relinquishing the throne to his son, Emperor Tran Thai Tong returned to Vu Lam Palace, seeking the blessing of heaven and earth to establish his own "spiritual sanctuary."
One day, as Tran Thai Tong reached An Khang in the region of Vu Lam Palace, he beheld a panoramic view of mountains interconnected with each other, featuring rocky caves amid lush greenery. In the midst of this landscape, there were three caverns, expansive fields covering several hectares, and a small river known as Ngo Dong flowing through the caves. Emperor Thai Tong, accompanied by the royal escort, sailed along the river, traversing the three caves, praising the picturesque scenery of mountains and rivers (as described in the ancient book “Thái Vi quốc tế ngọc ký”).
Initially, the Emperor erected a small "am" - a place for worshiping the Buddha, on a higher land within Hang Ca (Grottes of Ca) as a place of repose. However, due to the narrow, marshy terrain and the remote, difficult-to-reach location, he sought an alternative route leading southward from the cave. Discovering a vast expanse of land, surrounded by towering mountain walls on all sides, with a prominent dragon-shaped formation at its center, he found two wells resembling dragon ears and two ponds facing each other like dragon eyes. Legend has it that there are always two deep pits here. If filled with soil and rocks, after some time, the land sinks again and never levels with the surrounding ground. There was also a well in front resembling a dragon's nose, referred to by locals as the "Dragon God's Abode."
Thai Vi Temple - The eyes of the Dragon
It was indeed a piece of land bestowed with blessings and sanctity by nature. Tran Thai Tong likened this place to an ethereal realm:
"Thủy thức Bồng Lai nguyên bất viễn,
Thung dung tuế nguyệt độn phàm trần.
(Đến đây mới biết cảnh tiên chốn Bồng Lai đâu có xa;
Ngày tháng thong dong xa lánh cõi phàm trần).
(Here one realizes that the celestial scenery of fairyland is not far away;
Time flows peacefully, distancing itself from the mortal realm)
Emperor Thai Tong decreed that this unique land, with its mysterious mountains and beautiful waters, adorned with captivating scenery, could serve as a suitable place for spiritual retreat and sustained residence. He then assigned craftsmen to construct "am" Thai Vi directly on the dragon-shaped plot of land. This truly makes this land a place that you must see in Ninh Binh, not only for its picturesque landscape, but also for learning more about the glorious history Tran’s dynasty.

3. Thai Vi Temple - A historical tale of Tran Dynasty

The first war against the Mongol's invasion

About the history of Thai Vi Temple, it was constructed by King Tran Thai Tong in 1258 following the initial and triumphant victory against the invading Chinese forces. Historical records narrate that, at 41 years old, the king handed over power to his son after the victory and relocated to a small town in today's Ninh Hai commune, Ninh Binh Province.

Arriving at the small town nestled at the base of a mountain, overlooking the Ngo Dong River, he established a small temple in Van Lam cave. This temple was dedicated to Buddha and three saints. The king engaged in daily meditation and actively contributed to the prosperity of the villagers. The temple gained prominence during the second battle against Chinese invaders in 1285.

Over the years, the temple has undergone various reconstructions, with the latest one carried out in 2006 by a Buddhist living in Hanoi. The temple venerates King Tran Thai Tong, his wife, and son.

4. The classical architecture of Thai Vi temple

Thai Vi Temple's interior was built in the shape of the letter Công (工), and its exterior is shaped like the letter Quốc (国)

When you visit Thai Vi Temple, or other temples and pagodas, you can notice that the architecture and the construction here have a relatively distinctive feature. Often, individual structures are intricately grouped, while the entire complex is enclosed by walls. This is actually one kind of architectural model, called “Nội công ngoại quốc”. "Nội công ngoại quốc" is a term coined in a philosophical manner using Chinese characters. "Nội công" refers to the form of architecture shaped like the character "công" (工), while "Ngoại quốc" (国) is derived from the enclosing border of the character "Quốc" (囗).

When constructing Thai Vi Temple, artisans utilized monolithic green stones to craft worshiping items, tombs, and altars, bestowing a distinctive and imposing demeanor upon the sanctuary.

From the elevated vantage point of the two-story bell tower, gazing in the opposite direction reveals the 4-sided stele tower erected in 1926. Flanking this tower on both sides are three steles that meticulously detail the years of restoration and the names of contributors to the temple's construction.

Upon entering Thai Vi Temple in Ninh Binh Vietnam, the Dragon courtyard unfolds—a verdant expanse adorned with two Vong houses on either side, encapsulating an area of approximately 40 square meters. Progressing further, tourists are greeted by Dai Bao, featuring five grand entrances and six rows of parallel stone pillars intricately carved with dragon-themed art, overlooking the mausoleum.

The decoration of two Dragon of Thai Vi Temple

The stone blocks within the courtyard bear the elegant imprint of two dragons. Within the temple, three compartments house two parallel rows of exquisitely carved stone pillars, with four pillars bearing intricate dragon carvings.

Upon stepping inside, you will encounter five main compartments adorned with eight skillfully crafted stone pillars. Fashioned from smooth and elegant blue stone, these pillars support statues of King Tran Thai Tong, Tran Thanh Tong, and Queen Thuan Thien, creating a deeply resonant atmosphere for worship and reflection.

5. How to visit Thai Vi Temple

5.1. From Hanoi to Ninh Binh

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh, you have the option of traveling by motorbike, bus, or private car to get there.

  • By bus

Traveling to Ninh Binh by Bus
From My Dinh or Giap Bat bus station in Hanoi, take a bus to Ninh Binh, costing around 120,000 VND for a 2-hour journey.
  • By motorbike
Traveling to Ninh Binh by Motobike
Departing from Giai Phong Street, you should head to Phap Van - Cau Gie Highway and go straight. Then, you can follow the signposts along the roads until arriving in Ninh Binh Province.
  • By train
Traveling to Ninh Binh by Train
Trains from Hanoi to Ninh Binh take approximately 2 hours (Train schedules are subject to change according to the weather condition or operation safety.)

5.2. From Ninh Binh to Thai Vi Temple

Ninh Binh to Thai Vi Temple

Thai Vi temple is located in Trang An Complex; therefore, on route to visit the complex, you can visit the temple by the way. When traveling to Thai Vi Temple, you have two options: getting there by boat or by bike. The first option, you embark on a boat along the Tam Coc – Bich Dong route.

Another option, from Van Lam pier, take a right and follow the road parallel to the Ngo Dong river to access the temple. For a more immersive experience, opt for a bike ride instead of walking as it offers the sensation that you are cycling amidst expansive green fields, inhaling the crisp air, and savoring the picturesque scenery that unfolds at every turn. That’s how to get to Thai Vi Temple.

6. Best time to get to Thai Vi Temple

Thai Vi temple's festival

Exploring Thai Vi Temple is a delightful experience that can be enjoyed year-round, allowing flexibility based on your schedule. Yet, for an enriched visit, it's recommended to align your trip with the vibrant Thai Vi Ninh Binh Temple Festival. Taking place from the 14th to the 17th day of the first lunar month, adds a special touch to your journey, it’s the best time to visit Thai Vi temple. Immerse yourself in the festival's rituals, honoring the contributions of the first four kings of the Tran Dynasty, and witness the temple come alive with cultural vibrancy during this period.

Join Thai Vi temple festival, you will have a great opportunity to participate in some folk games such as dragon dance, lion dance, wrestling, chess, and boat racing. Immersing yourself in such joyful festive atmosphere is definitely one of the best things to do in Ninh Binh Vietnam when you come to the temple on this occasion.

7. Helpful tips

  • Bring some change for parking in case you ride a bike to visit Thai vi temple and donate to the temple.
  • Wear polite clothes covering your knee and shoulder.
  • Maintain a respectful demeanor during your visit, especially in areas where religious rituals may be taking place.
  • Besides historical value, Thai Vi Temple is also attractive with picturesque scenery, so don’t forget to bring a fully charged camera to take different memorable photos.

Thai Vi Temple is intimately connected with the history of the Tran dynasty, making it a sacred place where people from all over the country come to commemorate the contributions of the Tran kings. In addition, with its traditional architectural style known as "nội công ngoại quốc," featuring sophisticated design, the temple also serves as a repository for cultural, architectural, and spiritual values that should be respected and preserved through time.

To ensure a satisfying experience far beyond your expectations, please CONTACT AUTOUR ASIA, TRAVEL AGENCY VIETNAM now.



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