|Tuong Long tower pagoda (photo:petrotimes.vn)
During the Ly Dynasty, from 1010 to 1225, Buddhism in Vietnam was respected as the national religion. Thousands of Buddhist sites were built, including most magnificent Tuong Long tower pagoda in Do Son.
Built on a mountain that rises 128m above sea level, Tuong Long served as a watch tower to guard the northeastern border against invasion. History books record that King Ly Thanh Tong visited Do Son and ordered a tower built. He named it Tuong Long, which means auspicious dragon, because he dreamt of a golden dragon before building the tower.
For a thousand years Tuong Long tower has stood as an archaeological vestige. In 2007 Do Son district began rebuilding the tower and finished in 10 years later. The new tower stands on an area of about 2,000 square meters. The outer layer is made of ceramic bricks, typical material of the Ly Dynasty. There are also decorative tiles with images of lotus, chrysanthemum, and lemon flowers.
Inside the tower there is only a statue of Amitabha Buddha sitting on a stone lotus on the ground floor of the 9-storey tower. It’s considered the "soul" of the tower.
|Tuong Long tower pagoda (photo: internet)
Most Venerable Thich Quang Tung, Head of the Executive Board of the Hai Phong Buddhist Sangha, said the restoration adheres to the original architectural design and motifs.
“We wanted to restore the cultural works of our ancestors. The pagoda has a bronze statue from the Ly dynasty that was recovered from the pond. The ancient bricks have words on them which are the same size as those found at Phat Tich pagoda,” said Most Venerable Thich Quang Tung.
Next to the pagoda is a stele house, where many archaeological artifacts were excavated, such as tiles of various shapes, pieces of a dragon's head, and statues of mandarin ducks.
Cao Van Be, Deputy Director of the Do Son Relics and Tourism Management Center, said: “We rebuilt the Tuong Long pagoda complex and preserved the historical values of our ancestors, aiming to educate the young generation about national construction and defense and inspire their sense of national duty. The site has great historical value for Do Son and Hai Phong.”
|Tuong Long tower pagoda at night (photo: internet)
At Tuong Long pagoda, visitors can write their wishes on paper and hang them on a tree at the foot of the tower. A female tourist from Hanoi said: “My family has visited Hai Phong many times, but this is the first time we’ve come to Tuong Long pagoda, a thousand-year-old historical site. In Hanoi there is Bao An pagoda, which was built at the same time as Tuong Long pagoda.”
Because Tuong Long tower stands on a mountain, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Do Son beach. At night a lighting system creates an impressive atmosphere.