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Duc La Pagoda in Bac Giang province

Located in Tri Yen Commune, Yen Dung District, Bac Giang Province, Duc La Pagoda was built in 12th century. The pagoda was once a center of Truc Lam Trinity (King Tran Nhan Tong, Phap Loa and Huyen Quang monks) who opened a school of Buddhist preaching and established the Truc Lam religious sect.

From the Bac Giang City, a crooked red soil trail runs off Route 13, just past Tan An Commune, let to Duc La Pagoda, also known as Vinh Nghiem Tu (80km north of Hanoi). Surrounded by rolling hill area, the pagoda lies on the Co Tien Mountain range and on the batiks of the Luc River on its left. Further away is the Thuong River which converges with the Luc River to form the Phuong Nhon Junction.

In front of the pagoda are the beautiful landscapes of vast rice-fields spotted with small villages and hamlets hidden behind green bamboo groves. Looming in the distance is the 99 Nham Bien Mountain range, wrapped in a poetic and mystical air.

Divided into four main parts, the pagoda has the principal architecture which bases on a south-west axis. The first part comprises the Pagoda of Ho, Thieu Huong and Buddhist. There are many statues positioned inside the Ho Pagoda; at the two gables there are two Thap Dien niches, two colossi as high as the roof, as well as statues of Thien Vuong, Dia Tang and Long Than.

The Thien Huong Palace is splendidly decorated with three horizontal panels and a gilded door; the first compartment is for bonzes to say prayers, the second is for the display of Buddha statues and statues of Arhats.

The interior of the Buddhist Temple contains numerous of Buddha statues that bring the architectural features of the Le Dynasty. The first area is separated from the second one by a brick yard and is an ancestral shrine built in a simple architectural style with wooden planks and cloud – like decorations. There are the words “Truc Lam Ho Thuong” engraved on the panel in Chinese characters meaning “a rendezvous of the Truc Lam Trinity”. This panel is placed above the three statues of Truc Lam Trinity. The third area is the two-roofed bell tower and the fourth is the second ancestral shrine hosting two statues symbolic of the art of sculpture in the Nguyen Dynasty. Over 700 years have intervened but all four architectural structures remain intact.

There exists a major training center of Buddhism inside the Duc La Pagoda area with wooden shelves for the printing of Buddhist sutras still conserved as evidence of the important role of the pagoda. The local authorities and people have maintained the complex well, making the area an eternal sanctuary of the Vinh Nghiem Buddhist sect.

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