Angkor Thom



Yen Tu Pilgrimage Sites

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The holy mountain, Yen Tu, at 3,477 ft (1,060 m) is the highest peak in the range of the same name. It is named for Yen Ky Sinh, a monk who attained nirvana at the peak, about 2,000 years ago. Yen Tu became further renowned during the 13th century, when Emperor Tran Nhan Tong retired there to become a monk. Some of the 800 religious structures claimed to have been built by the  emperor and his succes- sors are still present here.  For centuries, thousands of pilgrims have made the ardu ous ascent to the summit of Yen Tu by foot, although now a cable car whisks sightseers to Hoa Yen Pagoda, just over halfway up the mountain. From here, another cable car goes on up to the most impor tant structure at the summit, Chua Dong or Bronze Pagoda. This is the spiritual home of the Truc Lam or Bamboo Forest sect of Mahayana Buddhism, and was built during the 15th century. It has been beautifully refurbished, with 70 tons (64 tonnes) of bronze used to form a 215 sq ft (20 sq m) temple intended to symbolize a lotus. Environs Situated on the western slopes of the Yen Tu range, about 3 miles (5 km) north of Sao Dao on Highway 18, are two of the country’s most important pilgrim age sites. Chua Con Son, one of the attractive pagodas in the north, is dedi cated to  Nguyen Van Trai, the poet- warrior who aided Emperor Le  Loi  in expelling the Chinese from Vietnam in the 15th century. The popular pagoda is always active, with monks and nuns chanting prayers almost constantly. Located nearby is the small temple, Den Kiep Bac, which is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a general of the Tran Dynasty during the late 13th century and a deified national hero. An annual fes tival is held in his honor during the 8th lunar month.

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