Hue’s outskirts offer ideal spot for contemplation, inspiration

Photo of Entry:  Hue’s outskirts offer ideal spot for contemplation, inspiration

On one side of the softly sloping Cham Mountain outside Hue in central Vietnam is a small pagoda surrounded by a verdant beauty so otherworldly that visitors feel they’ve just stepped into the Elysian fields.

Lying about 9km from the former royal city, the Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda can be reached by motorbike or car on an unpaved road that makes for a somewhat bumpy ride but is well worth the discomfort.


The 6,000-sq.m area, called Van Tung Son, or thousand pine mountain, is covered with a lush carpet of grass and wild flowers of many colours. Old-growth trees dot a higher mountain nearby.


The pagoda, surrounded by bamboo trees, was built in 1973 by bonzes Vien Minh, Tinh Phap, Tri Tham and Tan Can, and originally stood in Phu Loc District’s Loc Hai Commune.


It was moved in 1978 to its current place in Huong Tra District’s Huong Ho Commune by a monk, the Most Venerable Gioi Duc, who headed the pagoda until 1983 and was succeeded by the Most Venerable Phap Tong.


Upon entering the grounds through a large gate, you can see a large rock painted with calligraphic poems that have profound spiritual meaning, according to the monks and nuns who live on the pagoda grounds.


Once you are inside the area, you feel engulfed by the serenity and simple majesty of its scenery.


Thanks to the care of the monks and nuns, the gardens near the Huyen Khong Pagoda are wonderfully unregimented, reflecting the traditionally subtle garden architecture of Hue. Many rare species of flowers perfume the entire area.


Near the path to the main pagoda is a lake covered with water lilies and lotus flowers.


Small one-floor cottages made of bamboo and rattan along the lake display hundreds of poems, proverbs and philosophical sentences written in calligraphy.


Mots of these works were reportedly composed by the pagoda’s monks, guest monks and even a few visitors inspired by the area’s natural beauty, pure air and seclusion.


Near the cottages is the small Vuon Thien (mediation garden) used by the pagoda’s monks and nuns.


There, orchids, old roots of apricot trees and elegant conifer bonsais contrast with the moss-covered ground. Birds can be heard singing in the forest behind the area, where a centuries-old tree stands near a statue of a Buddhist monk standing in deep contemplation.


The monks and nuns, who sit on the garden’s flat stones in meditation, say that after finishing their daily duties they often write in the garden.


Modest in size, the airy main pagoda is made of dark wood and has a tiled roof with an interior that is in keeping with the simple Buddhist style.


Though the pagoda is relatively new, visitors comment on the sacred feeling of the small structure, sometimes called Phong Truc Am, the wind and bamboo temple, for the yellow bamboo trees surrounding it.


Other smaller pagodas on the hillside contribute to the harmonious atmosphere of natural and man-made beauty that is ideal for meditation, literary composition and other artistic pursuits.

Source Vietnamnet

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