Experience going to Bich Dong Pagoda – Nam Thien De Nhi Dong of Ninh Binh

Bich Dong Pagoda is a historical and cultural relic belonging to Trang An – Tam Coc – Bich Dong scenic complex of Ninh Binh province.  This is an attractive spiritual tourist destination, bringing visitors to the majestic place of the Buddha’s door, the peace of the mountainous region. Every spring, the temple attracts a large number of Buddhists and tourists from all over the world who come here to worship and enjoy the scenery. 

Introduction to Bich Dong Pagoda

Where is Bich Dong Pagoda?

  • Address: Dam Khe village, Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province

Bich Dong Pagoda is an ancient temple built on the mountainside. Initially, the pagoda was named “Bach Ngoc Thach Son Dong” which means a beautiful, pure and pearl-like pagoda in the deep mountain with the same cup. In 1774, during a visit by Lord Trinh Sam, the pagoda was renamed Bich Dong Pagoda. This is one of the famous scenic spots of the ancient capital, once known as “Nam Thien De Nhi Dong” (the second most beautiful cave of the South sky after Huong Tich cave in Hanoi).

After nearly 600 years of existence, this is a place to store many historical and cultural values. Today, Bich Dong Pagoda has been ranked as a special national relic and recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural and natural heritage. This is one of the most sacred temples in Ninh Binh that every year incense customers always come back to.

History of the temple

In 1705, during the reign of King Le Du Tong, there were two monks named Tri Kien and Tri The. A native of Vong Doanh, another from Dong Xuyen, Nghia Hung district, Nam Dinh province met and became brothers. Both monks were devout, and together they went to many places to spread Buddhism and build temples.

When they came to Bich Dong mountain, they found that this is a place with beautiful terrain and a pagoda. The two monks decided to stop, donate and rebuild the old temple into 3 new ones: Lower Pagoda, Trung Pagoda and Upper Pagoda to practice.

In the year of Dinh Hoi (1707), two monks cast a large bell, which is still hanging in Dark Cave. Two years later, in the 8th lunar month, they made the inscription of Bich Dong pagoda in Chinese characters.

In the year of Giap Ngo (1774), Lord Trinh Sam came here for sightseeing. Perhaps impressed by the panoramic view of mountains, river caves, fields and trees, the pagoda seems to converge on a green background, so Lord Trinh Sam named the pagoda Bich Dong.

Interesting experience at Bich Dong pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda bears bold Vietnamese ancient pagoda architecture. Overall, there are 3 pagodas with 3 caves with 2 dry caves and 1 water cave. In which dry cave includes Bich Dong, Dark cave in the middle of the mountain, water cave is Xuyen Thuy Dong underground.

1. The way to the temple

The most special feature of the temple is the structure of the Chinese character Tam. Unlike Cong pagoda, there is an incense burning room connecting the three buildings of the temple which is completely separated. Accordingly, the structure consists of 3 separate parts: Lower pagoda, Trung pagoda, Thuong pagoda, arranged along the mountainside from high mountain to low mountain.

Visiting the pagoda, visitors will pass through a stone bridge leading to Tam Quan gate, this gate area is imbued with ancient architecture with 3-storey gate style, curved tile roof is designed sophisticatedly. Tam Quan gate area is also the place where visitors check in the most. The painting of the countryside with the surrounding rocky lotus pond creates a poetic scene.

2. Summer Pagoda

Passing through Tam Quan gate area, you will encounter a road at the foot of the mountain about 55m long with very clean tiles. built in the northwest direction located at the foot of Bich Dong mountain.

Like other temples, the architecture of Ha pagoda is in the style of Dinh, the horizontal part is the front street, the vertical part is the upper hall with 2 compartments with ironwood pillars and tall stone pillars. Trusses, crossbars, vertical beams are made of ironwood. The roof of the pagoda is two tiers of curved roofs, including 8 roofs. Because the pagoda’s foundation is nearly 1 meter higher than the temple yard, it must be painted on 3 stone steps, so the pagoda has an additional porch to create another low roof, looking at the front as if there are 3 roofs.

Through the porch of the temple, step through the wooden door step t

o enter the front entrance. At the top of the central nave, there is a big picture in Chinese characters “Mao ancient god Thanh” which means the appearance of the temple has always been very sacred. In the temple is a place to worship Buddha, there are pedestals from above to low to place statues and worship objects such as cloves, lamps …

3. Trung Pagoda

To get to this area of ​​Bich Dong pagoda, you need to turn to Ha pagoda and follow 90 stone steps on the S-shaped winding mountainside, about 30m high between Ha and Trung pagodas. The first impression of tourists about this cliff is similar to that of a dragon.

Up to the Trung Pagoda area, the hollow cliffs open as high and wide as a dragon’s mouth. The upper jaw is the arched rock on the pagoda like a porch, and the lower jaw is flat around the temple yard.

On the roof of the pagoda, there is a special big picture engraved with the word “Bich Dong” in two Chinese characters. Next to this inscription is also a small “Nguyen Nghiem subtitle” and “Nhat Nam Nguyen editor” autographs of Trinh Sam temple, the head of Nhat Nam at that time.

4. Dark animation

The next place that you should not miss in your trip to Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh is Dark Cave. To get to the Dark Cave you need to pass 21 stone steps between the deep green forests. The first image when you enter the Dark cave is the large bronze bell cast in 1707. This bronze bell exists as an artifact to remember the merits of the temple of two monks, Tri Kien and Tri The.

Although it is called Dark Cave, the cave is still lit by electricity. To the right of the Dark cave door is the image of 3 majestic stone Buddha statues. This is a symbol of longevity. In the middle of the cave is the place where the statue of Buddha Amitabha is located. On the right is Van Thu Bo, on the left is Quan Am Thi Kinh and Lao Tho.

5. Upper Temple

To get to Thuong Pagoda, you have to step another 40 stone steps along the mountainside. Thuong Pagoda is a crossbow pagoda located on the mountainside, located at the highest position, near the top of Bich Dong mountain. The pagoda is about 60 meters higher than the underground brick courtyard. Upper pagoda was built in the Southeast direction and worshiped Ba Quan Am Buddha. There are two shrines on either side of the pagoda, namely Tho Dia and Duc Son Than. Next to the pagoda there is also a water tank called Cam Lo water tank of Quan Am Bodhisattva.

From Thuong Pagoda, visitors can see 5 independent mountains adoring Bich Dong mountain like 5 lotus flowers. That is Ngu Nhac Son, including Tam Sang mountain, Gia Dinh mountain, Con Loi mountain, Dau Cau mountain and Hang Based mountain.

Note when going to Bich Dong pagoda

  • Bich Dong Pagoda is open to all visitors free of charge 
  • Compared to Tam Coc, Bich Dong Pagoda is usually less touristy. Restaurants sell outside to serve fewer visitors. You should prepare all necessary items for this excursion.
  • You should choose the time to go to the temple around April because the weather at this time is quite dry, sitting at the marina to travel to Tam Coc is not too uncomfortable. If you go in the rainy season, be careful the road will be slippery.
  • When going to the temple, you need to choose for yourself the appropriate polite and discreet attire. In addition, when visiting Bich Dong Pagoda, you will have to walk and climb a lot of steps. So you should choose for yourself a pair of sports shoes or flat shoes for comfort to move you!
  • You go to the temple to prepare yourself a little cash to support the merit box of Bich Dong pagoda. Please keep the order and protect the property of Bich Dong pagoda when visiting.

Bich Dong Pagoda is an ancient temple full of solemn and mysterious features. Mountains, caves and pagodas harmonize and combine to create a unique landscape. During the visit to Tam Coc Bich Dong, if you miss Bich Dong Pagoda, it is a big pity.

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