Thứ Năm, 12 tháng 6, 2014

Ngoc Son Temple, Sword Lake

For ages, the Lake of the Restored Sword (also called Sword Lake) has been considered to be one symbol of Hanoi

Geologists believe that the lake was once a section of the Red River before the latter changed its course. The change took place a thousand years ago but the name “Restored Sword” (Hoan Kiem) was given only five centuries ago. In the past, the lake was called Luc Thuy (Blue Water) because the water was always blue. In the 15th century, the lake acquired its present name which is closely connected with the following legend: "In Lam Son village, Le Loi was given a sword which he always brought along with himself during the ten years of resistance against the Ming invaders.

After he had defeated the enemy, he settled in Thăng Long. One day, while King Le Loi was boating on Blue Water Lake, one turtle suddenly emerged on the surface. He took out his sword and pointed it at the turtle ’who snatched the sword and dived immediately. Lê Lợi thought that God had given him the sword to from the early 16th century onwards, the Le Kings and Trinh Lords had the lake beautified considerably.

Around 1739, Lord Trịnh Giang set up Khanh Thụy Palace on the Pearl Island as a place for him to enjoy summer breezes. His younger brother, Trinh Doanh, had a mound built on the eastern side of the lake and named it Đoc Ton in memory of his success in suppressing peasants’ uprising in the Doc Ton region, near the Tam Dao mountain range. In 1786, King Le Chieu Thong ordered his soldiers to burn down Khanh Thụy Palace and the Trinh Lords’ Palace. In the 19th century, a pagoda dedicated to the Buddha was built on the foundation of Khanh Thụy Palace.

Later, this pagoda was turned into a temple dedicated to Van Xuong, a legendary figure, who was in charge of literature and examination affaks, and to Tran Hung Dao, a Vietnamese hero who defeated the Yuan-Mongolian invaders in the 13th century. In the temple there is a statue of Kwan-wu, an elite General famous for his loyalty, and a statue of Lu Zu, a famous herbalist; both were Chinese and deified.

In 1865, Nguyen Van Siêu, one of Mà Nộị’s great men of culture took responsibility for the repairs of the entire area. On Độc Foil mound, he had a stone tower built whose peak resembles a writing brush (Brush lower). On the tower’s body are engraved three words Tả Thanh Thiên (Writing on the Blue Sky).

Ngoc Son Temple, Sword Lake
Ngoc Son Temple, Sword Lake
Passing through Brush Tower, you come to Nghiên (Ink Slab) Tower. It is an inkstone shaped like a half of a peach placed on an arched gate. On the body of the inkstone is engraved an essay on the usage of inkstones from the philosophical viewpoint. Passing Nghiên Tower, you come to The Hue Bridge, (“Perch of Morning Sunlight”). At the other end of the bridge is the Moon House (Dac Nguyet Lau), which is at the same time Ngoc Son Temple’s gate.

Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake
The temple has three main buildings, the front one is the great ceremonial hall, the middle one is dedicated to Van Xuong, and the back is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao. In front of the great ceremonial hall is Tran Ba Dinh (Wave Preventing Pavilion).

The Huc Bridge
The Huc Bridge
A little afar from that pavilion on the southwest of Sword Lake, there is Turtle Tower mound which was built at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, it has no historical and aesthetic value, but since it has stood there for around one century, it has become familiar to many Hanoians and foreigners.

It is notable that there are many parallel sentences in Ngoc Son Temple. They were composed by famous Confucian scholars and are valuable literary works.

Expat in Hanoi