Tu Van Pagoda: Unique Site Made From Seashells
Tu Van Pagoda is located about 60km south of Nha Trang city. This is not only a place for people to practice religious activities, but also a unique sightseeing destination. The pagoda is completely made from dry seashells and coral. Because of its unique materials, Tu Van also has other names including Oc Temple (Shell Temple) and San Ho Temple (Coral Temple).
|The pagoda is completely made from dry seashells and coral. Photo: immivietnamvisa
From its entrance, travelers will be surprised by a huge Prajna Paramitta Boat (Thuyen Bat Nha) made of dead shells with a length of 10m. According to Buddhist beliefs, it is the boat navigated by Mitreya Buddha to carry people of great righteousness and generosity across the ocean of misery after death. On the boat’s sails are extracts from the Buddhist book of prayer, which are intended to calm visitors so that they may enter the pagoda with tranquil souls.
What makes this pagoda so famous is the Bao Tich Tower. With a height of 39 m, this tower is recognized as the tallest Bao Tich tower in Vietnam. It was built in 1995 and took five years to complete. The architecture inside is also decorated with seashells and coral. The tower has eight doors and two floors. The first floor is where visitors or Buddhist monks can visit, and upstairs is a place for worshiping Buddha.
|The architecture inside the pagoda. Photo: Ha Photography
The tower was well designed and built with 49 small pyramidal towers outside. There are different Buddha statues in each sub-stupa, such as Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattva, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Maitreya Buddha.
|The gate of Bao Tich Tower. Photo: Ha Photography
Tourists visiting here can also experience “Hell” themselves in a very interesting way. The Pathway to Hell is just 500m long, but it is still designed elaborately with rock, coral, and shell, wrapped by a beautiful picture of a dragon. The road is underground, so it is very dark, so tourists will have to use candlelight or flashlight to see the way. There are 12 gates in the cave that symbolize the 12 layers of hell in Buddhist theory. At each gate, there is a description of the sins that a person may commit during his/her lifetime. It is a wonderful architecture of Tu Van Pagoda.
|The seashells are delicately carved onto the walls. Photo: Ha Photography
After a journey through the deep, dark Hell, tourists come back outside by crossing an entrance which is a dragon’s mouth. And they will be excited to see the tranquil paradise of Bat Nha Hoa Vien – a garden full of big shady trees, statues of animals and sea creatures, resting in beautiful harmony with their surroundings.
|The entrance into Hell. Photo: Ha Photography
|Because of its unique materials, Tu Van also has other names including Oc Temple (Shell Temple) and San Ho Temple (Coral Temple). Photo: Ha Photography
Other destinations to visit in Nha Trang City
Right in Nha Trang center, tourists can explore some appealing cultural tourist attractions and impressive structural buildings:
Po Nagar Cham Tower: Located on a hill at about 50 meters above sea level, Po Nagar Cham Tower is one of the remaining monumental Champa architectural complexes in the Central of Vietnam. The tower has 4 floors in total and there is a majestic statue of Our Lady sitting on a marble lotus inside.
Nha Trang Cathedral: The entire Nha Trang Cathedral is built from thousands of stereoscopic stones in the typical Gothic style of the West. It is officially called Christ the King Cathedral. However, locals often call it by simple names such as Stone Church or Mountain Church.
National Oceanographic Museum: With an age of nearly 100 years, the National Oceanographic Museum is home to over 20,000 specimens of more than 4,000 marine species. In particular, this place also displays a huge whale skeleton which is nearly 26 meters long.
Long Son Pagoda: Situated at the foot of Trai Thuy Mountain, Long Son Pagoda is a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists and tourists far and wide. This place is also famous for the 31-meter-tall white statue of the sitting Buddha which looks like he is giving a peaceful sermon.
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