Du Hang Pagoda – Being the nearest and largest tourist hub, Hanoi is likely the most popular starting point to Du Hang Pagoda. From the center of Hanoi, you can follow the highway 5B to Hai Phong City and turn right at its intersection to the inter-provincial road 253. The pagoda is on Hoang Minh Thao road after a 2-hour drive. Although there are other roads to approach it, travel time and distance are almost the same. Hai Phong city is one of the biggest cities in the north of Vietnam and its roads and directions are as clear as Hanoi. You can easily find it on Google Map or ask for local people’s help if you travel from other destinations like Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and so on.
Geographically located on Ho Nam Ward, Le Chan District, Du Hang Pagoda is well-known for its unique and ancient architectural style. Nowadays, Du Hang Pagoda attracts more and more tourists who are devout Buddhists coming to admire and learn more about the architecture of the Nguyen dynasty.
The history of pagoda
Du Hang Pagoda is built since The early Lê dynasty that was a dynasty that ruled Dai Co Viet, now Vietnam, from 980 to 1009 and the dynasty is known for repelling the Song invasion. In King Le Gia Tong dynasty (1672), high-ranking bonze Nguyen Dinh Sach (Chan Huyen) donated his own properties to buy land in order to enlarger that pagoda with full of bell towers and monk’s hall with the tiled roof and the paths were paved with a special brick originated from Bat Trang – a traditional porcelain and pottery village in Hanoi with history of seven centuries.
In the reign of King Thanh Thai in 1899, the monk Thong Hanh restored the pagoda and built the bell tower. Until 1917, there was a significant restoration to the present architecture. Despite many ups and downs of history, the pagoda has retained its unique sculpture and architecture and become the most ancient pagoda in Hai Phong.
The architecture of Hang Pagoda
Built with a strict principle, Du Hang Pagoda has the main hall, which is the most important part of each pagoda where worships Buddha statue system and a front house. Those two buildings connect each other and looks like a traditional Chinese word of (丁). Some famous pagodas having the same concept are Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh Province that is within the core of UNESCO heritage site and Tram Gian [a hundred compartment] Pagoda in Hanoi.
After walking through “Tam Quan” – the main entrance with three gates, you will see two Monk’s halls on both sides where worships deceased monks who played important roles with the pagoda’s development and a 7-compartment Buddha Hall in front of you. Going inside, you will be amazed by its sacred ambiance and a rich source of architecture took inspiration from the Nguyen Dynasty’s artistic style in the late 19th century and early 20th century – the last feudal dynasty in Vietnam’s history.
The Buddhist features are strongly shown doors, pictures and statues in that hall, particularly a group of outstandingly 3 main statues that embody for the past, the present and future. You may marvel at the beauty of the three-storey bell tower and its sophisticatedly curved eaves that leads your mind to Dragon and
Phoenix’s images – two of powerful and beautiful symbols of Vietnamese and in Buddhism.
The pagoda’s stupas courtyard is a fine work of art with 12 intricately carved statues located on the right side of the main entrance. The most remarkable statue is the yellow statue of Siddartha Gautama – the founder of Buddhism sitting on a lotus throne under a large shady Bodhi tree and a statue of Maitreya Buddha in standing position. They are both cast in bronze and placed opposite each other on both sides of the lake. Around the lake, there are statues of 10 Buddhist scholars made of white stone in different poses and shapes.
These areas are entirely built of stone and brick including 11 towers. It is the place where ashes of particularly important dead Buddhists are kept as well as the Zen masters of Truc Lam Yen Tu – the only native school of Buddhism in Vietnam and many head monks who dedicated their lives for the pagoda.
Du Hang pagoda has still preserved many valuable relics such as bells, bronze peaks, fine art ornaments made of ceramics, green stones, bronze statues and beautiful carved cabinets and etc. It is worth mentioning that the pagoda has kept The Dīrgha Āgama (English for “Long Discourses”) that is known as the first part of the collection of Early Buddhist Texts, an ancient Buddhist doctrine handed down from early generations of monks. It is of a great spiritual and historic values to the world’s Buddhism in general and Vietnamese Buddhists in particular.
Custom of going to Du Hang pagoda
Nowadays, Du Hang Pagoda is considered as the center of Buddhism of Hai Phong Province and are broadly known with many people in Vietnam and foreign tourists. Going to a pagoda, especially on full moon days, on New Year’s days and on the 15th of every month has become a habit of Vietnamese. They often go to pagoda in that days to pray for health and peace.
As usual, they just burn odd numbers of incense. Number 1 is the symbol for a solid connection between the sky and the earth. Number 3 means three parts of life; namely human, sky and land. Number 5 is likely five fundamental elements created the world known as iron, wood, water, fire, land. They will prepare fruit, incense, and flower before going to pagoda. When they come through the door, they customarily bow a little bit to show their respect to Buddha and just bow in front of the altar 3 times that are for the past, the present and future.
If you are looking for tour to this attraction, please check out Hai Phong city tour.