Tay Ho temple: the beauty spot of the capital

The Hanoitimes - Standing on a peninsula of the West Lake, Quang An ward of Hanoi`s Tay Ho district, Tay Ho temple or West Lake temple is considered as one of the holiest ones in Hanoi.

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In the pantheon of genii worshiped by the Vietnamese people, Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh, one of the Four Immortals along with Tan Vien (the God of the Mountain), Saint Giong, Chu Dong Tu, is a saint of the beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Four Realms originated from the Mother Goddess religion which is considered to be the most distinct and oldest religion of Vietnam. 

 

Tay Ho temple is located on a large peninsula in the mid West Lake.

Tay Ho temple is located on a large peninsula in the mid West Lake.

Legend has it that the Mother Goddess was Princess Quynh Hoa – the second daughter of the Jade Emperor who was banished to earth as a punishment for breaking a glass cup. On earth, she visited and explored places. Coming across an islet in the West Lake, she found  this holy land with picturesque landscapes. Princess Quynh Hoa decided to open up tea shop and resided by the lake inspired by its poetic scenery.

She helped people to settle, eradicate evil and punish wrongdoing. Under the Nguyen dynasty, she was honored as ‘Mau Nghi Thien Ha” (the mother of the whole world), being one of the four Immortals of Vietnam.

 

Tay Ho temple is a wonderful beauty spot of the capital.

Tay Ho temple is a wonderful beauty spot of the capital.

According to legend, Phu Tay Ho was where the second reunion of Princess Lieu Hanh and scholar Phung Khac Khoan known as “Trang Bung” happened. On his visit to the West Lake, “Hoang Giap” (laureate of second-rank doctorate) Phung Khac Khoan, felt in love with this scenic place and met Princess Lieu Hanh. Together they wrote the poem ‘West Lake Senses”. On his later visit to the lake, the princess already left back to the celestial kingdom. Phung Khac Khoan erected this temple in memory of his soul mate.

Standing near the West Lake temple is the Golden Buffalo temple dedicated to the legendary Golden Buffalo. 

Tay Ho temple festival is mainly held on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month and the 13th day of the 8th lunar month. 

Through the road shaded by rows of trees visitors enjoy  the harmonious landscapes of the islet called “golden fish-shaped ground”, in an atmosphere full of the lotus aroma.Three-arch gate of Tay Ho temple has glazed tile roof. Four Chinese characters “Phong Dai Nguyen Cac” (Wind gazebo, Moon pavilion) hang in the front. The panels on either sides cite the legendary meeting between Phung Khac Khoan and Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh.

The main hall is the biggest buildings of the Tay Ho temple complex. The hall entrance is the double-eave three-arch  gate. There is a panel reading “Tay Ho Hien Tich” which is beautifully decorated hang in the middle. 

The four middle doors carved respectively with “tu quy” symbols (four seasons), “tu linh” symbols (four noble animals) and longevity peach shape. Across three-arch gate is a double-eave “phuong dinh” (Fang pavillion) with eight tiers. The front-worshipping house was built near “phuong dinh”. 

Next to the hall is Son Trang (mountain manor) gazebo which  has 3 stories and the 8 gradual tiers of eave. Inside, the floor was partly elevated to worship Guanyin while the rest are divided into 3 compartments representing 3 caves. Outside, on the temple’s yard, stand the two small shrines worshipping Co (young maiden) and Cau (young boys). Under century-old weeping fig is a stele “tu chi” (place of worship) from the village of Vinh Thuan erected in the 5th year of Thieu Tri era (1845). The tree was recognized as the National Heritage tree.

Relics in the temple are abundant in volume. Panels and frescoes at  doors, royal seat, votive tablet and  altar, all bear the 19th century style. 

In addition, there are processional parasol, canopy, parasol, 3 bronze bells, a bronze incense-burners, a stone incense-burner, 10 title conferring papers (thee nominations to Goddess Lieu Hanh, seven nominations to the Golden Buffalo  God and fifty statues of different sizes.

This is both a relic of the monument complex in the area surrounding West Lake and a beautiful site of the capital.