Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tradition of the spirit in new year Part 1

It has been a week after the Tet holiday and we have come back to work as normal. But the excitement of enjoying the Tet still remains. This morning of Saturday, we decided to visit some temples around West Lake, the most unique lake in Hanoi where there are most temples/ pagodas locating around like Den Quang Thanh, Den Tran Quoc, Phu Tay Ho, Chua Tao Sach, Chua Van Nien... By tradition, Vietnamese like to visit temples on the occasion of Vietnamese New year . So it's common that every temples in everywhere across the country are always most crowded in lunar January of a year. So here are our tour of temples around West Lake today:
1. Đền Quán Thánh
After a simple & favorite breakfast, we started to go to Đền Quán Thánh, where Thánh Trấn Vũ , Deity of the North in Taoism was worshiped by Vietnamese.This is one of the oldest temples in Hanoi, which was built since 11th Century (in Emperor Lý Thái Tổ dynasty reigned during 1010–1028).
The pagoda is on Thanh Nien street, opposite with West lake, a short walk from Tran Vu street around Truc Bach Lake where pilot and future United States senator John McCain was shot down in October 1967.
Being located on the corner of Quan Thanh Str. and Thanh Nien Str. facing West Lake in a nice and peaceful large yard,  Quan Thanh is one of the Four Sacred Temples of the capital (một trong bốn "Thăng Long tứ trấn" ngày xưa). The current architecture of the temple remained after a great innovation from 19th century (1838) including: tam quan, sân, ba lớp nhà tiền đế, trung đế, hậu cung.

This is the first time of my visit to this temple. I hope you won't much surprise because I am Hanoian ;-). I was amazed when after passing through 2 big shrines of the temple with common architecture as seen in other ones in Hanoi, I saw the Tran Vu's black bronze statue in main shrine. This second biggest bronze statue in Vietnam was introduced by a pagoda supervisor who I met  there as 4m high, almost 4 tons & made in 1677. What I can learn was that the posture of the statue says about Tran Vu's archivements for the local people's lives here during old time.
Bare feet, left hand prevent the ghosts, right hand take a sword in turtle's back, with a snake around the sword. In legend, snake & turtle are the symbols of Northern Deity. 
Many local visitors after praying want to touch the statue's bare feet with belief of receiving more good lucks.I got the chance to touch his feet while people around, mostly young women, were crowded waiting for their chance too.
The pagoda was crowded in about 8h30am since we came.  
2. Phủ Tây Hồ
Leaving Den Quan Thanh in Thanh Nien str., we rode around West Lake to reach further to Phu Tay Ho. It was a cold& a bit cloudy morning today, but scenery on our way still looked nice. 
View in other side of the lake on our way to Phu Tay Ho
A coffee shop with great view to the lake first floor & a nice restaurant in second floor. 
I'm having an entry about this place next time 
Phủ Tây Hồ today was so crowded. That was the first impression we had. This is the most well-known temple in West Lake area and thousands of visitors has been coming since the first day of Lunar New Year until now. Being situated in small island connecting to east part of West Lake, this place was once an old village of  ancient Thang Long (so-called as old name of Hanoi capital during Ly Dynasty). The temple worship Princess Liễu Hạnh, the mother goddess admired greatly by her talents in literature, poetry and kind motherhood to local farmers & normal people during her time. It was no wonder so many people  not only from Hanoi, but also from other provinces, come to Phu Tay Ho during these beginning weeks of new year, firstly to visit an old famous temple built since 1598-1607, then worship to Lieu Hanh Princess for the good luck in new year. 
Green nutitious sticky rice or " X«i cèm" is a specialty in Phu Tay Ho
We asked for an old man in traditional costume of Ông Đồ - who writes old Nôm words of your wishes into the offering letters to Buddhists - to help us in these. Quickly, other people came waiting for their turn to do the same like us ;-) Then we bought some offerings on the way enter in the pagoda.
This is the best time of year for selling offering things to visitors. We got offering trees & moneys on the walk into Phu
The shopping place of offerings things were even right in pavement to Phu & parking lot
Since it was hard for me to take picture, here are some from internet, showing exactly the crowded atmosphere in Phu Tay Ho when we came.
 The main shrine of Cong Dong inside Phu Tay Ho
 People with lucky offering golden tree branches in hand to visit Phu Tay Ho
 Offering moneys were even given in trees in the yard
 It was difficult to reach to main alters inside the shrines, so I even had to pray from far in the crowd. I even couldn't find my offerings of praying laid inside, because layers of layers offering things were loaded.
Here's the parking lot next to Phu Tay Ho, with 5000 VND/ motorbike, which was still much better than ticket fee in Den Quan Thang with 10000 VND this morning, while it is supposed only 2000-3000 VND in normal days.
When we came out of the temple, it was almost 11am. So we decided to have lunch here,. It was great opportunity to enjoy the specialty food of West Lake (fried shrimp pancake called "Bánh tôm Hồ Tây" and rice noodle with Ho Tay snail called "bún ốc Hồ Tây"). Recently some days before Tet and the 4th day after Tet, we had Banh Tom already, but every time we try Banh Tom Ho Tay, the taste is fresh& attractive so much.
 Banh Tom were soft fried at first, with powder & shrimp & bột nghệ. Then they were deep fried when we order in sets.The huge load of banh tom attracted us that we couldn't help stopping by the most nearby restaurant
It was yummy to eat shrimp pancake with lettuce & sauce nước chấm with sliced sour papaya & chily
I wish to have time tell more about the specialty food around West Lake. But it was time for us to keep going to other expected temples. Goodbye Phu Tay Ho & see again in another day

No comments:

Post a Comment