Located in the serene countryside of Northern Vietnam, Ba Vang Pagoda in Quang Ninh Province is one of the most famous Vietnamese pagodas. This cherished Buddhist sanctuary is a symbol of both spiritual devotion and architectural elegance, offering a tranquil retreat for those seeking inner peace and a deeper connection with Vietnamese culture.
1. Location and history of Ba Vang Pagoda
Ba Vang Pagoda, also known as Bao Quang Pagoda, is nestled in Thanh Dang Mountain, standing at an elevation of 340 meters above sea level in Quang Trung Ward, Uong Bi City, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. It commands a picturesque location along the banks of the Bach Dang River, with a panoramic view stretching toward the bustling port city of Hai Phong.
Archaeological findings suggest that the pagoda's initial construction may have occurred during the Tran Dynasty in the 13th century. However, details regarding the founder and the pagoda's history remain unclear.
Over a span of 800 years, from the 13th century to the 21st century, Ba Vang Pagoda has undergone a series of transformations with four renovations. The first restoration, led by Zen Master Mahasamon Tue Bich Pho Giac in 1706, marked a revival of the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen sect after a hiatus of 300 years. In 1998, it was refurbished with wood. In 1993, it was upgraded with cement, expanding its total area to 94.97 square meters.
In 2007, Venerable Thich Truc Thai Minh assumed the role of abbot at Ba Vang Pagoda Vietnam. With the need for improved facilities, the pagoda underwent an extensive reconstruction in January 2011. Finally, in 2014, the pagoda celebrated its grand inauguration, gaining the notable distinction of having the largest main hall on a mountain in Indochina.
2. Main attractions at Ba Vang Pagoda Vietnam
2.1. Impressive architecture
2.1.1. Stone Gate
The Stone Gate serves as a prominent architectural feature that greets visitors upon their arrival at the pagoda. Adorning this gate are ten statues portraying the Buddha's Ten Great Disciples, each holding an alms bowl - a humble yet profoundly significant symbol in the daily life of Buddhist monks.
2.1.2. Tam Quan Trung & Tu Bi Waterfall
Tam Quan Trung is the gateway to the magnificent pagoda. Passing through the gate, visitors will immediately feel the serene aura of Buddha's realm, a stark contrast to the urban hustle and bustle. Inside, a delightful surprise awaits: a waterfall. Its gentle waters flowing through rocky crevices, creating soothing melodies. The harmonious blend of nature, with trees, clouds, water, and flowers, paints a serene landscape, evoking a sense of profound peace in every visitor's soul.
2.1.3. Statues of Buddha
Ba Vang Pagoda has a large number of statues, notably:
- A statue of Amitabha Buddha: The largest wooden Buddha statue in Northern Vietnam, 100% crafted from natural wood.
- A statue of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva: A delicately carved statue, reaching a height of 10 meters and a weight of 50 tons.
- A statue of the thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokiteshvara inside One Pillar Pagoda
- Statues of 18 Arhats.
2.1.4. One Pillar Pagoda and Ban Nguyet Lake
Nestled within Ba Vang Pagoda stands a remarkable One Pillar Pagoda, emerging gracefully from the tranquil embrace of a crescent-shaped lake. This small pagoda bears a striking resemblance to the renowned One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi. It also holds deep spiritual significance as a sacred site for worship in the pagoda.
2.1.5. Bo De Garden
Bo De Garden is a favorite photography spot in Ba Vang Pagoda. Adorned with vibrant flowers and surrounded by lush greenery, this picturesque garden also features a charming rustic wooden bridge. The combination of these elements paints a vivid natural tableau, providing visitors with a tranquil refuge where life's cares seem to fade away.
2.1.6. Tam Quan Noi
Visitors will undoubtedly be awestruck by the magnificence of Tam Quan Noi. This gate is an architectural marvel that stretches more than 23 meters in length, rises to a towering height of 15 meters, and is adorned with 29 stone steps. The gate is further embellished with intricate couplets gracing its two surfaces. In front of Tam Quan Noi, a Vietnamese flag and a Buddhist flag proudly hang side by side, billowing in the wind.
2.1.7. Main hall
Ba Vang Pagoda's architectural centerpiece is its solemn main hall. Here, visitors can engage in incense offerings, prostrations, and sutra recitations. This two-story marvel spans 4,767 square meters and stands 28.42 meters tall. Accessible via 33 stone steps on the old pagoda's foundation, it embodies a connection to both earthly and celestial energies. The hall’s architecture harmoniously blends classical Vietnamese monastic elements with modern spaciousness. This grand scale provides an ideal space for Buddhist study, practice, and worship, catering to the needs of believers and tourists alike.
2.1.8. Godly Well
Within the pagoda's grounds lies the "Godly Well", a 300-year-old natural water source. Legend has it that those who sip its water on the New Year's Eve can expect good health and even relief from various ailments. Consequently, Buddhist devotees and travelers from near and far often flock here, eager to experience the well's reputed healing properties by sipping its water.
2.2. Special festivals
Ba Vang Pagoda hosts an array of delightful festivals throughout the year, offering opportunities for vibrant participation:
- The Spring Festival on the 8th day of the 1st lunar month.
- The celebration of Buddha's Birthday on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month.
- The special ceremony dedicated to nurturing the bodhi mind and seeking blessings for unborn baby spirits on the 19th day of the 6th lunar month.
- The Ullambana Festival - a heartfelt event highlighting filial piety in the 7th lunar month.
- The Chrysanthemum Festival (the Double Ninth Festival) on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month.
These festive occasions at Ba Vang Pagoda provide tourists a wonderful opportunity to partake in cultural and spiritual celebrations that enrich the soul and foster a sense of community.
3. Frequently asked questions about Ba Vang Pagoda
3.1. How to get to Ba Vang Pagoda in Vietnam?
To reach the pagoda from Hanoi, visitors have two convenient transportation options:
- By bus: Travelers can take a bus from Hanoi to the pagoda, covering a distance of approximately 130 kilometers in 2 - 3 hours. These buses typically depart from bus stations like My Dinh, Gia Lam, and Giap Bat and head to Quang Ninh, passing by Uong Bi on the way. Ticket price for these buses costs from 150,000 VND. Upon arriving in Uong Bi, visitors can continue their journey to the pagoda by taxi, which costs around 50,000 - 70,000 VND.
- By car/motorbike: For those with personal vehicles, the route to Ba Vang Pagoda involves driving from Chuong Duong Bridge towards Bac Ninh Province, then following National Road 18. This road also heads to Quang Ninh, on which Uong Bi is located along the way.
3.2. Is Ba Vang Pagoda open to tourists year-round?
The pagoda warmly welcomes pilgrims and visitors throughout the entire year. There are no entrance fees to the pagoda. While there is a donation box available for those who wish to contribute, such donations are entirely voluntary. Your visit is valued for your presence, not your purse.
3.3. When is the best time to visit Ba Vang Pagoda?
The best time to visit the pagoda includes the Spring Festival on the 8th day of the 1st lunar month and the Chrysanthemum Festival on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. Furthermore, the pagoda offers monthly meditation retreats, offering a wonderful chance to embark on a fresh journey to cultivate inner peace and savor the tranquility of this beautiful place.
3.4. What to keep in mind when visiting Ba Vang Pagoda?
- Dress politely to show respect
- Do not touch, use, or take anything from the pagoda without permission
- Bring minimal belongings and avoid placing them on worshiping areas
- Place donations in the donation box, not in statues, censers, or the well
- Refrain from bringing non-vegetarian food, alcohol, or drugs into the pagoda
- Avoid making loud noises
- Keep away from the living quarters of the monks
- Do not litter
- Do not pluck flowers or branches
- Do not ring the temple's bells, drums, or sacred instruments
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Ba Vang Pagoda, a harmonious blend of spirituality and natural splendor, beckons visitors to experience its serene beauty and rich heritage. This sacred sanctuary offers a tranquil escape and a deep connection to Vietnamese culture. Whether you seek spiritual solace, cultural exploration, or simply a moment of serenity, the pagoda invites you to embark on an enriching journey.