Climbing the mountain sometimes called the roof of Southern Vietnam is a once in a lifetime experience for visitors to Tay Ninh Province.
About 10 kilometers northeast of Tay Ninh Town and straddling three communes, the Nui Ba mountain range stretches 24 square kilometers and comprises three mountains, Heo (Pig) Mountain, Phung (Phoenix) Mountain and Ba Den (Black Lady) Mountain. The mountains have grottoes and pagodas and ancient trees, attracting hundreds of tourists and pilgrims everyday.
The 986 meter tall Ba Den Mountain with its good tourist facilities is the best option to climb. The path winding to the top passes many falls and narrow streams. Halfway up the mountain, there are some mysterious caves with giant rocks and old temples.
If you don’t want the exercise there’s a cable car to the top. Along the way there are views of a waterfall, caves and forest.
Once on the top, trekkers should visit the Ba Temple Complex. It contains old pagodas such as Ha Pagoda, Thuong Pagoda and Hang Pagoda and caves such as Ba Co Cave, Thien Thai Cave and Ba Tuan Cave. All present typical features of Buddhist culture and folk beliefs.
Another highlight of Tay Ninh Province is the mammoth Cao Dai Pagoda that has 100-hectare grounds. The temple is a magnificent architectural work with 12 doors. Built in 1933, the pagoda is a mix of Cao Dai religion, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, with Christianity and Islam as well as some internationally famous faces.
To enter the Cao Dai sects’ main headquarters, males must enter on the right and females to the left and shoes have to be removed before entering the main hall. Naturally lit and filled with icons, the hall is a sanctuary away from the world.
Central in the Cao Dai hall is a Divine Eye encased in a triangle. It is a recurring motif on walls and ceilings. Gaudy pink pillars down both sides are wrapped with snarling green dragons.
Binh Thanh Ancient Tower is also a must-to-see destination. The Cham tower built in the Oc Eo era is more than 1,000 years old.
Tourists take cable cars up Ba Den Mountain in Tay Ninh Province
Cao Dai Cathedral – Photos: Dang Hoang Tham
By Dang Hoang Tham in Tay Ninh of SGT