Vinh Nghiem Pagoda Bac GiangBac Giang, Vietnam
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is considered a Buddhist museum in North Vietnam because it is a place where many precious documents and the cultural heritage of Buddhism are preserved.
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Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was built in the Ly dynasty under the reign of King Ly Thai To (1009 – 1028) in the village of Duc La, Tri Yen commune, Yen Dung district of Bac Giang province, around 80km from Hanoi Capital. Initially named Chuc Thanh, the pagoda later took the name of the village and is now called La Pagoda or Duc La Pagoda.
The 10,000sq.m pagoda comprises different significant sections such as the three-layer gate, Triratna. According to the Dictionary of Vietnamese relics, the pagoda was embellished, enlarged, and renamed Vinh Nghiem under the reign of Tran Nhan Tong (1278 – 1293). Due to wars and conflicts, the pagoda was then ruined and was only restored in 1606. In the early years of the Nguyen dynasty, the pagoda was embellished with the addition of the statues of the three founders (patriarchs) of the Truc Lam Buddhism Sect.
Vinh Nghiem was the place where the three first patriarchs of the Truc Lam Sect (Tran Nhan Tong, Phap Loa, and Huyen Quang) once delivered their preaches and served as a training institution for monks during the Tran dynasty. The pagoda is considered the place of origin of the Truc Lam Sect, playing an important role in the history of Buddhism in the Tran dynasty in particular and Buddhism of Vietnam in general.
The pagoda is not only a place for worshipping Buddha, but also the place where Vietnamese books, documents and items were printed and archived throughout feudal dynasties. At present, about 100 statues, 8 steles, parallel sentences, documents, books and other worshipping objects, especially the Buddhism scriptures’ wood-blocks carved by Zen masters of the Truc Lam Sect through time, are preserved at the pagoda.
The wood-blocks not only consist of deep thoughts and values of the Truc Lam Sect, but also serve as remarkable calligraphy and artistic items and mark development stages of the Nom scripts in different periods of time. For their values, the wood-blocks were recognized by UNESCO as a documentary heritage items in the Asia-Pacific Region’s Memory of the World Program.