Located in Ba Sao Town of Ha Nam Province’s Kim Bang District, just 60 kilometers southwest of the capital Hanoi, Tam Chuc Pagoda, also known as Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex, huddles in the middle of unspoiled forests. The complex covers 5,000 hectares, including 1,000ha of water and 3,000ha of mountains, while the pagoda features a unique design and a history of more than 1,000 years.
Tam Chuc is part of a complex of salt-marsh ecotourism sites that also include the Huong Pagoda tourist site in Hanoi, the Van Long nature reserve, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Trang An Landscape Complex, Tam Coc Bich Dong Tourist Complex and the Hoa Lu ancient capital in Ninh Binh Province.
Lakes, mountains, and forests surround the complex. It consists of Ngoc (Pearl) Pagoda, Dien Tam The (the Main Hall of Buddhas of the Three Times), a three-door gate, several shrines, and an International Convention Center.
The Tam Chuc Pagoda features 1,000 stone pillars engraved with Buddhist sutras, each four meters high and weighing 200 tonnes, forming the biggest pagoda of its kind in Vietnam. A Bodhi tree propagated from Sri Lanka’s 2,250 year-old Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest tree in the world, is being grown in the compound.
The Ngoc Pagoda
The Ngoc Pagoda was jointly constructed by Indian and Vietnamese engineers and craftsmen on the top of the That Tinh Mountain, 200m above sea level. The 13m-high, 36 square-meter pagoda was made of 2000-tonne stone blocks without the use of cement or mortar. Inside stands a ruby statue of the Amitabha Buddha that weighs 1.5 tonnes. The Pagoda offers an overview of the Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex.
The Main Hall of Buddhas of the Three Times
The Main Hall of Buddhas of the Three Times, which sits on 3,500 square meters of land and 45m above sea level, is the tallest building in the Tam Chuc complex. Inside the two-story hall are three colossal Buddha statues in black bronze representing the past, present, and future, each weighing 80 tonnes. The four giant walls of the hall are decorated with 12,000 delicately carved stone pictures depicting Buddha’s life. They were carved from Indonesian volcanic rock by skilled Muslim artisans.
The Lord Buddha shrine
The Lord Buddha worship shrine is located between The Main Hall of Buddhas of the Three Times and Quan Am Shrine. Inside the 31m high, 3,000sq.m shrine is a 150-tonne statue (made by Vietnamese artisans) and 10,000 pictures with embossments made from volcanic rock depicting Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment, and passing.
The Quan Am Shrine
The Quan Am Shrine houses the gigantic bronze 100-tonne Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue. Visitors also have the chance to admire other meticulously carved statues that imbue the complex with its mystical, sacred aura. The shrine contains 8,500 pictures featuring the legend of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.
The International Convention Center
The 10,000sq.m, 3,500-seat International Convention Center was built on the water surface. During the UN Day of Vesak 2019 (marking Buddha’s Birthday, Enlightenment and Passing) in Tam Chuc, the center welcomed 1,500 Buddhist leaders, celebrities, Buddhism researchers and Buddhists from more than 90 countries and territories worldwide in addition to 10,000 Vietnamese Buddhists and visitors. The center consists of a cruise port for visitors coming to Tam Chuc by waterway.
The Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex is a combination of the past and the present, and of Buddhism-based oriental and western cultures, created by gifted artisans from Vietnam, India and Indonesia.
The Tam Chuc Spiritual Tourism Complex was recognized as a national tourist attraction in Prime Ministerial Decision 201/QD-TTg dated January 22, 2013. As one of the largest Buddhist cultural complexes in Vietnam, it was selected to host the UN Day of Vesak 2019 (Buddha’s Birthday, Enlightenment and Passing Away) in May 2019.
The whole complex is expected to be completed in 2048 and will become the biggest pagoda in the world.
Kim Chi & Thu Huyen