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Bach Ma Temple - The oldest Buddhist landmark in Hanoi

Bach Ma Temple - The oldest Buddhist landmark in Hanoi

Bach Ma Temple - The oldest Buddhist landmark in Hanoi

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    Bach Ma Temple overview 

    Located in the center of the Old Quarter, Bach Ma Temple is the most ancient monument in Hanoi capital. The great founder of the Ly Dynasty, King Ly Thai To constructed this religious building in the 9th century. 

    As the most ancient temple in Hanoi, Bach Ma Temple is a significant relic that witnessed historical events. This temple was somehow a great shelter for resistance fighters against the French during their colonial times in Vietnam. 

    Bach Ma Buddhist Temple
    Source: salajean / shutterstock

    Nowadays, Bach Ma Temple has remained a spiritual place for locals to worship and make ceremonial offerings. On some special occasions like the 1st and the 15th day of every lunar month, the temple is opened for prayers, ceremonies, and spiritual events. Besides, it is an ideal place for international tourists to see religious events and even Vietnamese cultural values. So this is a great opportunity for them to witness the locals practice their ritual beliefs. 

    This Hanoi Buddhist Temple showcases the most ancient religious beliefs and specific traditional values of Vietnamese. Moreover, unique architectural designs in Bach Ma Temple also make a great impression on tourists’ minds. With its architecture and specific rituals, Vietnamese people attach much importance to those values. This article will provide you some interesting information that you might know about the oldest Buddhist monument in Hanoi. Hopefully, you have an unforgettable experience during your trip to the capital of Hanoi. 

    History of Bach Ma Buddhist Temple 

    Regarding history, Ly Thai To is well-known for trouncing the Chinese intruder out of Dai Co Viet territory. Besides, he made great contributions to transfer Vietnamese capital to the location of Hanoi today and build Thang Long Citadel. 

    Bach Ma Temple worships Long Do Mountain, the custodian of Thang Long citadel. Additionally, the religious landmark is named after the legend of a white horse (literally “Bach Ma” in Vietnamese). According to the myth, the white horse walking from the temple helps the King to choose the best place for constructing the citadel.

    History of Bach Ma Buddhist Temple
    Source: salajean / shutterstock

    This Buddhist temple is a part of a sacred quartet including 4 temples put at 4 cardinal points of Hanoi. Bach Ma, Kim Lien, Quan Thanh, and Voi Phuc temples are in the east, south, north, and west respectively. People suppose that these 4 religious temples will protect the city from evil souls and spirits. 

    Through many centuries, the Bach Ma Buddhist temple has undergone lots of losses from natural disasters and vicissitudes of history. So it has gone through some reforms. One of them was under the time of Emperor Chinh Hoa in the 17th century and another in the dynasty of King Minh Mang in the 19th century. Also, they carried out reforming the temple in the early years of the 2000s. 

    Read more: Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hanoi

    Architectural designs of Bach Ma Temple 

    Besides thoroughly historical values, Bach Ma Temple makes a great impression on travelers’ minds with its unique architectural designs. When entering the temple via some wooden doors, you can see magnificent furnished interiors and an impressive red-lacquered palankeen. Moreover, there is a statue of a white horse, a shrine dedicated to Confucious, and a Phoenix Altar for offerings inside the temple. 

    This Buddhist temple’s architectural design looks in the south. Its architectural style is quite sophisticated and meticulous with 5 palaces, each of which is a three-door wooden gate. The temple’s architecture is vertically arranged in a self-contained space. The design of distinctive blocks including lower, middle, and upper palaces insinuates the meaning of synchronization, solemnity, and esteem. The remains of its architecture mainly carry the artistic styles of the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The artistically-engraved wood material is the major material making most of the significant architecture

    The highlight of the Hanoi Buddhist Temple's design lies in the wooden framework girders with a large iron-wood column system. Builders form those framework girders together, creating a strong weight-bearing structure carved aesthetically and meticulously. Furthermore, you can see a big dome-shaped roof on the incense-burning area. 

    Historical items on display in White Horse temple

    You’ll find many images of a dragon, phoenix, fish, etc, and lots of valuable and rare exhibits from the past here. Moreover, there are plenty of precious artifacts inside this Buddhist Temple such as altars, shrines, statues, and stelae as well. 

    Over a thousand-year of history, Bach Ma Temple is one of the most typical relics in Hanoi. With these priceless architectural and artistic values, Bach Ma Temple is also a treasurable resource for people to study the ancient Hanoi capital. 

    Tips for visiting Bach Ma Buddhist Temple 

    Choose the right time to visit Bach Ma Temple 

    Bach Ma Templeopens daily for locals to come and worship as well as tourists to visit. However, there are some days in the month that have many more ritual events performed than normal days. If possible, you can visit the temple on the 1st or the 15th days of every lunar month, or the 9th or 10th days of February. You should choose the right time for visiting this temple to know and explore cultural and religious values here. 

    Dressing properly when worshiping or visiting Bach Ma Buddhist Temple 

    Visitors or prayers should dress conservatively when coming to the temple for any purposes despite no strict rules for that. People believe that it shows respect for the local people and their religious beliefs and traditions if doing so. 

    Hanoi Bach Ma Temple opening hours 

    • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 17:00 every day 
    • Address: No.76 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam. 
    • Tel: (+84) 4 3860 0963

    With its artistic and architectural merit, Bach Ma Temple has become one of the most popular attractions in Hanoi. As the oldest Buddhist landmark in the capital, visiting this temple is a great chance for tourists to see specific cultural and historical values of Vietnamese. Hopefully, you’ll have an unforgettable experience at Bach Ma Temple during the trip to Hanoi capital. If you want to share something about your trip, do not hesitate to comment below.

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    09 Nov 2020
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