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In the mind of the Vietnamese, Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) is associated with  the Turtle Tower, The Huc Bridge and Ngoc Son Temple. Throughout the ups and downs of time, Ngoc Son Temple is still the pride of Hanoian. Its location is on an islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Ngoc Son Temples is one of the most poetic and peaceful scenes in Hanoi. It is really good idea for you to get away from the noise and frenetic pace of the city.

Ngoc Son Temple – The heart of Hoan Kiem Lake

Originally, Ngoc Son Island was called Tuong Nhi (Elephant Ears). When King Ly Thai To moved the capital to Thang Long (Rising Dragon). He renamed it Ngoc Tuong and finally Ngoc Son Temple from Tran Dynasty. The temple was dedicated the national hero in The Resistance War against the Mongol Invasion. However, it was then destroyed and rebuilt to be Thuy Khanh Palace under Lord Trinh Giang. In 1843, a charity called Tin Trai built a new pagoda based on on the old Ngoc Son Temple and called Ngoc Son pagoda. A few years later, it was renamed as Ngoc Son Temple and restored from 1841 to 1842.

Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake

Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake

In 1865, Ngoc Son temple was comprehensively repaired by Nguyen Van Sieu. He is an eminent scholar of the old Thang Long Capital who followed Confucianism. Other projects were also newly built or upgraded that created a new complex of relics. Consequently, it has a harmonious architecture including Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, But Thap (Pen Tower) and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab).

Attractions in Ngoc Son Temple

The Pen Tower was built with stones and its peak was built in the shape of a brush. Three words “Ta Thanh Thien” (writing on the sky) is inscribed on its front side to show Vietnamese desire for knowledge. The Ink Slab, also built with stones, is held up by three frogs. Both of them have become sacred symbols relating to the national literature. Students often gather there to visit to pray for good luck in their studies and examinations.

The Huc Bridge

The Huc Bridge – Ngoc Son Temple

One of the architectural highlights of Ngoc Son Temple is The Huc Bridge that is known as “the bridge where light is absorbed”. The Huc Bridge with red color looks like strip lying on the blue water of Hoan Kiem lake. This architecture makes it to become a splendid symbol of the Buddhist architecture and a famous tourist destination in Hanoi. Originally, when the lake was much large, visitors to the temple came by boat. In the 18th century, a simple bamboo bridge was built. Nguyen Van Sieu built a red wooden bridge and it was rebuilt in 1952 in the same style. The bridge still keeps the shape, remains 16 rows piles, with wooden deck. But horizontal and vertical beams are made of concrete.

Ngoc Son Temple from the gate

In front of the Temple is Tran Ba Dinh – a communal house in order to hold back water and other evil spirits.

Ngoc Son Temple has three main sections: the external one is the “bái đường” (kowtowing place), the central section is for worshiping Van Xuong- a great scholar of Vietnam and the end section is dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century.

Ngoc Son Temple Gate

Gate of Ngoc Son Temple

Although it is located at the centre of a developing city, this site still maintains a sense of the poetic atmosphere of ancient Thang Long. The complex of the Ngoc Son temple  is always an ancient symbol  of the thousand years of literature and the great pride of Vietnamese people in general and Hanoian in particular. Coming here, visitors have a chance to enjoy an integrated and ancient beauty and the feeling of relaxing.

More articles for Hanoi Travel Guide: Hanoi Old Quarter, Perfume Pagoda, Duong Lam Ancient Village

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