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Vietnam's Largest Pagoda Complex Beckons Spring Pilgrims

Vietnam's Largest Pagoda Complex Beckons Spring Pilgrims

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    Tam Chuc Pagoda lies on the banks of the eponymous 600 hectare lake described as a mini-version of UNESCO heritage site Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, home to numerous small islets. The Tam Chuc complex covers 5,100 hectares, of which the pagoda takes up 144.

    Over the past two days, an increasing number of pilgrims have visited the pagoda, overcrowding parking lots.

    Visitors reach the pagoda via electric car or boat, round trip tickets costing VND200,000 ($8.7) per person.

    Vietnamese, especially Buddhists, have a long tradition of visiting pagodas and temples in the first lunar month to pray for peace and luck in the new year. It is estimated that over 70 percent of Vietnam’s population are either Buddhists or follow Buddhist practices.

    Visitors scramble to board a boat, each designed with a maximum 60 passenger capacity.

    With only 500 electric cars in service, many visitors had to cling on to the sides of vehicles. One-way tickets for a 12 km electric car trip around the pagoda cost VND90,000 ($4) per person.

    Nearly 100 buses were mobilized help transport believers to the pagoda.

    The 13 meter-high Ngoc (Pearl) Pagoda, perched on a 468 meter-high mountain, is considered a local masterpiece of stone architecture. The entire structure is made of red granite weighing over 2,000 tons, with no cement used in its joints.

    From Ngoc Tower, visitors can enjoy an aerial view of the entire complex.

    Legend has it that seven fairies in the shape of seven stars flew from the heavens to Tam Chuc Mountain to wander the earth. The charming scenery proved so attractive they forgot to return home even though the God of Heaven six times rang bells of recall.

    The six islets in front of Tam Chuc Pagoda represent the six bells, while the seven islets behind symbolize the seven fairies.

    Last year, Tam Chuc Pagoda hosted the U.N. Day of Vesak, which commemorates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha.

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    21 Feb 2020
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