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Perfume Pagoda

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Perfume Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam. Also known as Chua Huong, it is one of the most famous temples in the country. The Perfume Pagoda is located in the Nui Huong Tich mountains (whose name means Fragrant Vestige Mountain), about 65 km (40 mi) to the southwest of Hanoi.

The Perfume Pagoda is not one temple, but rather a complex of 30 different shrines. The first temple that visitors pass within the Perfume Pagoda complex, as they approach from the Yen River, is Den Trinh, or Presentation Shrine. It is also known as Den Quan Lon, or Shrine of High-ranking Mandarin. Den Trinh was built for the veneration of past generals. It has a gate flanked by kneeling elephants, one on each side.

Gate of Thien Tru Pagoda at the Perfume Pagoda complexGate of Thien Tru Pagoda at the Perfume Pagoda complex
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Passing Den Trinh, visitors reach the Heaven Kitchen Pagoda, or Thien Tru. It is also known as the Outer Pagoda, or Chua Ngoai. Here is a brick stupa, called Vien Cong Bao, where an important abbot of the temple, Master Vien Quang, was buried. Close by is Thien Thuy Stupa, which is not man made, but is in fact a naturally occuring structure caused by erosion. The first temple structure within the Perfume Pagoda complex dates back to the 15th century, and is believed to be located somewhere near the present site of Thien Tru.

Thien Tru PagodaThien Tru Pagoda
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authorshipJack French
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After passing Thien Tru, visitors approaching the Huong Tich cave pass by Giai Oan Temple, or Pagoda of Clearing of Unjust Charges. There is a pond here called Thien Nhien Thanh Tri.

The most important temple at the Perfume Pagoda is the Inner Temple, or Chua Trong, also called the Huong Tich Pagoda, because it is located deep in Huong Tich Cave. The entrance to the cave looks like the open mouth of a dragon, and is busy with people and visitors, especially on festive days. As would be expected, you can find lots of statues inside the cave, including a large Buddha statue, and one of Quan Am, the goddess of mercy, to whom Chua Trong is dedicated. The temple is a focal point of the annual Perfume Pagoda Festival, when thousands of pilgrim converge on the temple seeking good health and fertility.

Entrance of Huong Tich CaveEntrance of Huong Tich Cave
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How to reach Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is located off Highway 21, about 65 km to the southwest of Hanoi. There are day tours offered by tour operators in Hanoi to go there. You can also take a bus from Hanoi or Ninh Binh. The approach to the temple is by boat through the Song Yen, or Yen River. The scenery on the way to the pier is quite scenic, with towering mountains on both sides.

Going to the Perfume PagodaGoing to the Perfume Pagoda
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authorshipLibrex (Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic)

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