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Yen Tu - the home of Vietnam's hero king-turned-Buddha
By Minh Hung - Thanh Nien News -
The Yen Tu historical relic occupies nearly 20 kilometers of Quang Ninh Province’s Uong Bi District. It was listed as national relic in 1974 and as special national relic in 2012. Most of pagodas, temples and towers are located on nearly 2,800 hectares in the Yen Tu Forest Natural Reserve which boasts a diverse tropical ecosystem. Photos: Minh Hung
The Yen Tu Mount is located 1,068 meters above sea level (the highest in northeastern Vietnam) and was founded by King Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308). After successfully leading the Tran Dynasty to it final victories over two Mongol invasions, King Tran Nhan Tong gave the throne to his son and went to Yen Tu in 1299 to create the Truc Lam Buddhism Zen Sect, which had a significant impact on the development of Vietnamese Buddhism.
The Hue Quang Kim Tower is located near the Hoa Yen Pagoda. The tower was built in 1309 to store King Tran Nhan Tong’s sarira – the crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist masters.
The Hue Quang Kim Tower also features a statue of King Tran Nhan Tong which crafted, following his ordination, during the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400).
Hoa Yen is the main pagoda of Yen Tu Pagoda Complex and is surrounded by three ancient trees, each more than 700 years old. Followers of the sect believe they were planted by the three patriarchs of the Truc Lam Buddhism Zen Sect, including King Tran Nhan Tong.
Situated at more than 1,000 meter above sea level you'll find a massive bronze statue of King Tran Nhan Tong. It is believed to weigh 138 tons.
At the cloudy peak of Yen Tu Mountains sits the Dong (Thien Truc) Pagoda which was built in 2007 out of bronze. The pagoda weighs 70 tons and is shaped like a blooming lotus. It is the largest bronze pagoda ever built in Vietnam.
Legend has its that the Giai Oan Stream was where King Tran Nhan Tong’s wives committed suicide after failing to convince him to return to the throne.
The stream flows under the Giai Oan Bridge, which leads to the Giai Oan Pagoda.
The Giai Oan Pagoda is said to be the place that King Tran Nhan Tong built to pray for the souls of his deceased wives.
The Truc Lam Yen Tu Monastery is the largest in Yen Tu and considered the headquarters of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism Sect in Vietnam.
In Yen Tu, tourists can hike 6 kilometers to the peak, which takes about 6 hours. Two cable car systems half the distance. Accommodation is available at the foot of the mountain foot along with a restaurant that plays traditional Vietnamese music.