Phat Tich Pagoda, which is famous as the cradle of Vietnamese Buddhism, is located on the southern side of Lan Kha Mountain in Phat Tich Commune, Tien Du District, Bac Ninh Province.
The ancient pagoda is famous for its beautiful architecture, serene landscape and sets of precious stone statues imbued with sculptures of the Ly Dynasty.
We came to the pagoda on a summer’s day to escape the scorching heat of Hanoi and to find peace at the sanctuary. Seen from the peak of Lan Kha Mountain, the giant statue of Maitreya Buddha lets you know the pagoda is close. However, we had to pass the winding path under the shade of many trees. Entering through the gate, though, we sensed the peace and tranquility.
As recorded in ancient documents, Phat Tich Pagoda was built in the 7th century. In 1066, King Ly Thanh Tong (1054-1072) ordered an exquisite Phat Tich tower built that was 40 meters high on the southern side of Lan Kha Mountain. In 1947 the pagoda was destroyed by the French imperialists and since 1954, the pagoda has been restored many times.
The pagoda now maintains a large forecourt to receive guests, a Buddha worshipping hall and Holly-Mother worshipping hall. At the rear of the pagoda is a garden with 32 towers of different sizes that were built with bricks and stones in the 17th century.
The pagoda still preserves a set of precious stone statues of the Ly Dynasty with a Buddha statue, 1.85m in height. It is the oldest in the North and is considered a national treasure.
Among the remaining sculptures of the pagoda are five pairs of animal statues, including lions, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes and horses, lying on lotus pedestals carved out of large stones that were also recognized as the largest stone animal pairs in Vietnam.
Trekking up about 200 stone steps, visitors can also see a giant stone statue of Buddha on the peak of Phat Tich Mountain, which took three years to build. The statue is 27m tall and weighs 3,000 tons, making it one of the largest stone statues in Southeast Asia.
In front of the statues of Buddha, we felt safe and protected as if we were children. By Thoa Nguyen in Bac Ninh
The giant statue of Buddha on the peak of Phat Tich Mountain – Photos: Thoa Nguyen
The tower area with the tombs of monks of the pagoda