Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery, one of the largest Zen monasteries in Quang Ninh Province is located near the beautiful beach of Dai on Bai Tu Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province. It is known as a Zen place attracting a large number of Buddhist pilgrims and a popular tourist destination with a beautiful landscape formed by nature and harmonious architectural works. There are few monasteries like Truc Lam Giac Tam that has a favourable position with its back lying on the mountain and face looking to the sea.
We visited the monastery at the time when the local Buddhist followers and pilgrims were preparing for celebrating the 2557th birthday of Buddha so we had a chance to attend the colouful lantern releasing ceremony on Bai Tu Long Bay that left a long lasting impression on us.
Part of Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery is lit up by thousands of burning candles
on the 2557th birthday of Buddha. Photo: Trong Chinh
Bai Tu Long Bay is seen from the central chamber of
Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery. Photo: Trong Chinh
The statue of Guanyin has two faces, one looking towards Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery
and the other looking towards to Bai Tu Long Bay. Photo: Viet Cuong
Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery has its architecture imbued with imprints of Truc Lam School. Photo: Viet Cuong
A ceremony of nuns and Buddhist followers at Dai Hung Buu Dien Hall. Photo: Trong Chinh
Nuns and Buddhist followers at Dai Hung Buu Dien Hall. Photo: Viet Cuong
Buddhist followers from many localities prepare candles and lanterns for the ceremony. Photo: Viet Cuong
Preparing for the ceremony of releasing flower lanterns on Bai Tu Long Bay
on the birthday of Buddha in 2013. Photo: Trong Chinh
Thousands of flower lanterns are lit up at the ceremony. Photo: Trong Chinh
Zen Master Hanh Nha, monks and Buddhist followers release flower lanterns on Bai Tu Long Bay. Photo: Viet Cuong
According to Zen Master Hanh Nha who has been with the monastery for four years, in 2005 the authority of Van Don District had a plan to build a spiritual tourism area that is combined with the tourist route in Quang Ninh Province. In October 2007, the pagoda was built on the site of Phuc Linh, a small pagoda built in the Tran Dynasty, 700 years ago. After two years of construction, this work of a national level, covering 20ha, was completed and inaugurated on October 2009 with its architecture imbued with imprints of Truc Lam School, a Vietnamese Zen sect founded by King Tran Nhan Tong (13th century), which has played an important role in the life of Buddhists in Vietnam for many years. The main chamber of the monastery, 6,000m2 is the place where major activities of Buddhist followers take place. From here tourists have a panoramic view of the famous bay of Bai Tu Long with hundreds of small and big islands. Next are the ancestor-worshiping house and a hall for the monks and nuns to mediate.
With its beautiful landscape and spiritual values, Truc Lam Giac Tam Monastery has become a favourite tourist destination on the spiritual tours to Quang Ninh Province, attracting a large number of visitors.
Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery is called the familiar name of Cai Bau Pagoda because it is located on Cai Bau Island, 4km to the northeast from the centre of Cai Rong Town in Van Don District.
Story: Thao Vy – Photos: Viet Cuong, Trong Chinh