The herbalist’s temple on Ta Cu Mountain

On my trip to Binh Thuan Province from HCMC, I wanted to go to Ta Cu Mountain to see a famous old pagoda. We went through Tan Lap Commune, Ham Thuan Nam District and turned right to the mountain whose peak is 600 meters above sea level.

Instead of the steps I opted for the cable car to Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda which is about two thirds of the way up the mountain.

Looking down from there I could see a river meandering through paddy fields, red-roofed houses and trees. The city disappeared and in the far distance mountain ranges emerged hazily from the sea.

In the mid nineteenth century, a herbalist named Tran Huu Duc (1812-1887) came to Binh Thuan Province to practice Buddhism and medicine. He moved to Ta Cu Mountain in 1872 and lived in a deep cave. Many people who used the forest would visit him and made him a small temple to live in where he made herbal remedies for locals.

The small temple was renovated into Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda, which attracts many pilgrims.

At the top of the cable car it was cool and peaceful. I thought of the selfless work the old herbalist did. A short climb later I arrived at three seven-meter statues of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas in eternal meditation.

On the top of the mountain is a 49-meter long, 10-meter high statue of Lying Sakyamuni Buddha done by sculptor Truong Dinh Y in 1962. No power-tools were used to build the statue. It was a true labor of love. The statue is of the dying Buddha, reclining on his right side. The compassionate and peaceful smile on the exalted face touches Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Open since 2003, Ta Cu Mountain tourist site covers 25ha. In late 2003, the Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda was recognized as national cultural relic. By Lam Van Diep in Binh Thuan

The cable car to the top of Ta Cu Moutain in Binh Thuan Province. (Inset) The Lying Sakyamuni Buddha statue – Photos: Mong Binh

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