Soc Son Temple

Published:  08:29 Monday - July 15, 2013

Soc Son Temple is o­ne of the oldest and most holy sites in Vietnam. Coming here, visitors will hace a chance to be far from the bustle of Hanoi.

Saint Giong Temple, also called Soc Son Temple, is located in Soc Son District of Hanoi, 40km from the city center. The temple is built at the foot of the Horse Mountain which was believed to be the place where Saint Giong stopped for a rest after fighting off the invaders restoring peace to Vietnam...

Blessed by three natural lakes and bequeathed a large reservoir, the site has been religiously important since the 10th Century due to its connection to o­ne of Vietnam’s most famous folk-heroes.

According to the legend, Thanh Giong grew from a child into a man in a matter of days by feasting voraciously o­n rice, then ousted the Chinese using his bamboo sword. The temple complex commemorating him and Vietnam’s victory was erected sometime around AD980, making it a viable candidate for the much abused adjective “ancient”.

The Soc Son Temple is surrounded by mountains: Mt. Cao Tung to the South, Mt. Cấm to the East, Mt. Cổ Ngựa to the West, and the Mt. Rứa and a piece of flat land to the Southeast. In the ancient past, these mounts were covered with thick forests. The area is also bathed by two rivers: one following from the North-West to the South-East, the other from the West to the South.

Nowadays, visitors can walk among these temples, pray to Thanh Giong and generally soak up the ambience of the area. Anywhere at the foot of the mountain makes a great picnic spot, but those feeling a bit more athletic can climb the steps to the top of the mountain.

In 2010, an impressive statue to Thanh Giong was erected here as part of the 1,000-year Thanh Long — Hanoi celebrations. It’s quite a climb, but affords some great views of the surrounding countryside. If you haven’t got the legs, then there is also a well-paved, though un-signposted road to the summit.

 

During Tet, Soc Son also hosts o­ne of the country’s biggest festivals. o­n the sixth, seventh and eighth days of the Lunar New Year, it becomes an explosion of colour, religion and tradition. Big crowds, processions and even an amusement park for kids appear as if from nowhere. At other times of the year, guests tend to be in the form of school trips bused in from Hanoi. They climb the mountain, are taught the religious and mythological significance of the place, recount their achievements for the year, make resolutions and even listen to Vina-house while playing tug-of-war. Other visitors are worshippers, daytrippers and the occasional foreigner.

Compiled Nguyen Hao

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