Update: 15:17 | 29/01/2020
The hundreds-year-old Bo Da Pagoda in the northern province of Bac Giang is rich in historical and cultural values.
Lying on Phuong Hoang (Phoenix) Mountain and facing the Cau River, Bo Da, also known as Duc La, Pagoda is among the most major centre of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism.
A bird's eye view of the Bo Da pagoda.
The pagoda was built in the 11th century, under the Ly dynasty but badly damaged during wars in subsequent centuries. Not until the Le dynasty under King Le Du Tong (1705 – 1728) was the pagoda reconstructed and more or less retains the shape it has today.
Compared to other pagodas in northern Vietnam, Bo Da is unique for its architecture.
It appears to be a closed complex from the outside yet features hundreds of compartments that all open into one another on the inside. The special structure provides visitors with a sacred, secluded refuge from the outside world.
“Bo Da pagoda is remarkable for its feng shui characteristics, architecture, woodblocks, guardian god statues, and the largest tower garden in Vietnam,” said Venerable Tu Tuc Vinh, who is abbot of Bo Da Pagoda.
The pagoda covers a large area, consisting of three main zones: a garden, a main worshipping hall, and a tower garden.
The main worshipping hall was built upon typical architecture of Northern Vietnam’s pagodas with eight doors and the Luc-shaped (Chinese word for number 6) entrance.
The thousand-year-old tower garden is located outside the worshipping hall, encircled by an old brick wall. Inside 97 towers is the bone-ash and sarira of 1,214 monks and nuns. This tower garden is regarded as the largest and most beautiful of its kind in Vietnam.
Le Anh Duong, Vice Chairman of the Bac Giang Provincial People’s Committee, said Bo Da pagoda is a significant relic site in Bac Giang.
“What makes the pagoda special is that it is a place of worship not only Buddhism but also Confucianism and Taoism, which is called “Tam giao Dong nguyen” (or three religions harmonising as one),” he said.
The pagoda is also home over 2,000 Sutra woodblocks, arranged in eight bookcases. To date, hardly any of them have ruined.
Nguyen Dai Luong, Vice Chairman of the Viet Yen People’s Committee, said: “We are going to build an exhibition area to conserve and promote those valuable Sutra woodblocks to both local and foreign people so as they can know more about the relic site.”
Bo Da pagoda was recognized as Vietnam’s special national relic site in 2016.