728x90 AdSpace

Best Vietnam Tours 2022 - 2023
  • Latest News

    Voi Phuc - The western "guardian Temple" of ancient Thang Long

    Formerly, there were four important temples guarding the four entrances to Thăng Long in four directions. Among them, Voi Phục (Kneeling Elephant) Temple was the western “guardian temple” of ancient Thăng Long.

    The temple was built on a high mound south of Thủ Lệ Zoo in what is now known as Ngọc Khánh Ward, Ba Đình District, and surrounded by gardens and many luxuriant ancient trees.

    According to existing historical documents as well as the legends related in its parallel sentences and commemorative panels, Voi Phục Temple was built during the reign of King Lý Thánh Tông, in 1065. It has been repaired and restored many times from the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) up through recent years.

    Voi Phục Temple is dedicated to Prince Hoằng Chân (Linh Lang Đại Vương), the fourth son of King Lý Thái Tông (1028–1054). The legend says the king was growing old but he had no son to inherit his kingdom or carry on his name. One day, while the first imperial concubine, Nguyễn Thị, was bathing in Dâm Đàm Lake (now West Lake), a dragon suddenly appeared and wound round her body. It covered her with its perfumed saliva, then blew water from its nostrils and whooshed up into the sky. Nguyễn Thị went back to her palace and, after a few days, discovered she was pregnant. Fourteen months later, she gave birth to a prince called Ling Lang Đại Vương (the Great Aristocrat). When he was born, a strange smell spread over the palace. The prince, who was very handsome, had 28 dragon scales on his back and seven black moles twinkling like pearls on his chest. The King was very surprised so he called the baby, Hoàng Tứ Lang, and when he was seven days old, the King allowed his wife to bring him up in her native land in Thủ Lệ Camp.

    Two months and seven days later, Triệu Tiết, a mandarin of the Song Dynasty, brought his troops to plunder the country’s border. The king was sleeping in his bed when he suddenly heard the voice of a god say, “Our country has talented men, we are not afraid of the invaders”. The King woke up and ordered his messengers to travel the land and recruit talented people to fight the invaders. When the messenger came to Thủ Lệ Camp, Ling Lang Đại Vương, who was lying on his bamboo bed, suddenly

    The main altar in the Voi Phục Temple stood up and told his mother, “Invaders are attacking our border, I can’t stay here!” His mother was very surprised and said, “The invaders are very strong. You are still too small to fight against them.” The Prince replied, “You do not need to worry. I am small now but I will grow up.” He called the messenger and said, “Go back and tell my father not to worry. I only need a 10-meter long red flag and a male elephant to defeat those invaders.” The messenger went back to the palace and reported to the King who was happy to supply the prince with all the things he ordered. The Prince stood up, stretched his limbs, and suddenly became “Thiên Bồng” (Heaven General). He shouted so loudly that the elephant kneeled in front of him then he took the flag and rode the elephant to the Phú Lương Palace where he swung his flag and the enemy army was crushed. Having gained victory, the Prince went back to his camp, but seven months later he became ill with a strange disease and no medical treatment could cure him. The King came to visit and commiserate with him and the Prince said, “I came down to earth as punishment from heaven but now the punishment is over. If you love me, please look at the flag flying over the Đại Hùng Gate; that is the flag I carried to fight against the enemy. After my death, please launch it into the sky. Wherever it falls, have a temple built and worship me there. That's enough.” The King agreed, got in his sedan chair and said goodbye. The prince suddenly turned into a huge white dragon over 100 meters long, wrapped himself around a gigantic rock and disappeared into Dâm Đàm Lake. A few days later the wind whipped up waves on the lake and it was dark all day. The red flag flew into the sky, touched down at 269 different places, then returned to Ngọ Môn Gate. The King was amazed and ordered 269 temples dedicated to the Prince to be built in 269 villages, then he proclaimed the Prince “the Great Aristocrat” and built Voi Phục Temple on the site where he had lived. The temple is believed to be miraculous and magical and it is said that all wishes made there will come true.

    The above story is only a legend, however, according to historical documents, Prince Hoằng Chân, together with Prince Chiêu Văn and Lý Thường Kiệt, succeeded in repelling the Song invaders on the bank of the Như Nguyệt River (now called the Cầu River) in Bắc Ninh Province. After gaining victory, he returned to his home village to die. The king christened him Ling Lang Đại Vương and ordered an old temple to be restored in his honor. Now there are two kneeling elephants at the temple gate and on the gate’s pillars are the following parallel sentences:

    “This land has existed since ancient times under the Southern sky
    This temple is dedicated to one of the Supreme Gods”

    The temple now consists of the reception gate (nghi môn), which opens inside to a three-entrance gate, and the main temple. The main temple is shaped like the công ()character with three rows of houses: the five-room upper chamber (tiền tế), a two-room middle chamber (trung tế) and a three-room lower chamber, all of which have roofs covered with mũi hài (toe cap-shaped) tiles.

    The temple has a collection of a wide range of cultural artifacts including a throne, bronze temple bells, sedan chairs, ancestral tablets, statues of sacred cranes and horses, many parallel sentences and some splendid painted commemorative panels. Besides these valuable objects, inscriptions in Han and Nôm scripts conserved in the temple are filled with many stories of the gods, particularly the tutelary god.

    Source: hanoi1000yrs.vietnam.gov.vn
    Scroll to Top