As a city thousands of years old, Hanoi is not short of ancient, spiritual and tranquil attractions, carrying numerous invaluable historical meanings. Among them, the special national relic Bach Ma Temple is one of the remaining Thang Long Tu Tran or Thang Long Four Sacred Temples, preserving the imprints of Vietnam’s feudal era. Currently located at No.76 Hang Buom Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District, this work has an ancient unique architecture and is a familiar place of good luck for many locals, as well as domestic and international tourists.
I - The long history of Bach Ma Temple Hanoi
This temple of Bach Ma was built in the 9th century, to worship the guardian deity of ancient Thang Long Citadel - the god Long Do (literally meaning “the navel of the dragon”). According to legend, when quelling the rebellion in the 10th century, King Dinh Bo Linh came to the temple to pray for God’s blessing. After successfully reunifying the country, King Dinh Tien Hoang conferred a noble title on the god and encouraged the people to worship.
Bach Ma Temple has a long history of more than 1000 year - Source: bookhunterclub
In 1010, King Ly Thai To transferred the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long, intending to build the citadel but it collapsed many times. After being informed by the locals about the sacredness of the temple, the King set up a prayer ceremony and received help from God in the dream. A white horse came out from the temple and made horse hooves, which were used as a mark to build a new wall, that stood firm and did not fall as before. To show their gratitude, the court built a white horse statue to worship and ordained the god as Holy Protector of Thang Long Citadel.
II - The unique architecture of Bach Ma Temple Hanoi
Inside the temple - Source: @Summer
Facing the south, the temple of Bach Ma is a large-scale structure with nostalgic beauty, typical artistic style of the Vietnam feudal dynasties and classic decorative touches. Covering an area of over 500m2, this site has a unique feature being the crab-shell-shaped roof connecting all the buildings inside, making the area feel more spacious and slowing down degradation.
The temple includes Nghi Mon Gate, connected to Dai Bai House by Phuong Dinh Building, and Hau Cung, Thieu Huong and Hoi Dong houses. All the frameworks in Bach Ma Temple are designed with large ironwood columns, carved meticulously and typical motifs in the style of the Nguyen Dynasty. The architecture is mainly supported by many wooden pillars, carved with images of lotuses, phoenixes spreading their wings, 8 treasures,… Meanwhile, the three-way reinforcement truss system in the temple is not only to raise the roof, but also for decorating and hanging lanterns during festivals. Dai Bai House with a floor tiled with solid rectangular greenstone and large columns carved with the shape of spiritual animals is the largest building in Bach Ma Temple. Walking inside Hau Cung House, you will also find there a high wooden floor, with three-sided boards to make the place to worship the god of the temple.
The temple still retains many valuable artifacts, most of which are in late 17th-century art style. Besides palanquins and ancient weapons, there are also 18 steles recording temple history and 17 ordinations given by the Nguyen Court,... The spiritual animals on the doors such as dragon, turtle, and phoenix, symbolize eternity, while the Nguyen Dynasty cranes are a symbol of sustainability. It is said that the art - architecture of this place has combined the spirit of the previous periods and the style of the 19th century.
III - Information for tourists to Bach Ma Temple
1 - Ticket prices & opening hours
The temple is open from 9am to 5:30pm and you can visit for free without buying a ticket. However, it is located in the middle of the bustling and crowded downtown area, hence the limited space. Therefore, you should not go here by personal vehicle, not to mention, parking is also quite troublesome.
2 - What can you experience at Bach Ma Temple Hanoi
Believed to be one of the holiest spiritual sites in Hanoi, the temple of Bach Ma is a favorite destination for worship of not only locals but also people from other regions. This place is often full of people who come to burn incense to pray for luck, peace and liberation of the soul, especially during Tet and full moon days. Vietnamese temple going tradition carries great human values, associated with not only Buddhism, but also filial piety and origin remembrance.
On the 12th - 13th of the second lunar month, the Bach Ma Ma Temple Festival takes place annually, including the palanquin procession departing from Ma May Temple and passing through the main streets on the first day. At the forefront is the dragon and lion dance team, followed by the flag team, gong drums, offerings,... with full canopy, parasol, shepherd and life-size buffalo model to celebrate the Xuan Nguu Offering Ceremony. During the festival, there are also fun programs and many ethnic art performances such as Chau Van, Ca Tru, Cheo, Quan Ho, martial arts, etc.
3 - Attractions near Bach Ma Temple
The temple of Bach Ma is located right in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, extremely convenient for you to have a walking tour to visit the outstanding attractions of Hanoi. Normally, it only takes you about 1 - 2 hours to finish exploring the temple, so then you can visit other places while trying the unique street food culture here:
Hanoi Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Center
This spacious 3-storey building This place is used to exhibit and preserve tangible heritages, introduce the history and culture of Hanoi, and organize seminars and art exchanges.
The Old Quarter center is 200m from Bach Ma Temple - Source: @Trungnguyen Le
Completed in 2014, this building is designed in strict compliance with the principles of preserving old features with new materials and recreating the traditional architecture of the Hanoi Old Quarter.
- Address: No.50 Dao Duy Tu Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District
- Opening hours: 8am - 5:30pm
Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Established in 1969, Thang Long Puppet Theater has developed the art of water puppetry, producing many plays with different forms and genres, contributing to honoring Vietnamese art. You will experience the traditional stage, combined with modern lighting and sound equipment, as well as a team of professional staff.
- Address: No.57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street - 700m from Bach Ma Temple
- Opening hours: 8am - 6pm
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of Hanoi, associated with thousands of years of history of the capital and the lives of locals. Around there is also a pedestrian street that opens every weekend, where you can freely roam with friends while enjoying delicious street food.
Ngoc Son Temple
On the Ngoc Island of Hoan Kiem Lake, there is also the Ngoc Son Temple, connected from the shore by the bright red The Huc Bridge, which looks like a shrimp. Existing since the 19th century, this site has been associated with many stages of development of the nation, becoming an invaluable cultural and spiritual symbol.
4 - Map of Bach Ma Temple
Bach Ma Temple Hanoi is a particularly precious relic of Vietnam, with typical values in many aspects such as history, culture, beliefs and spirituality. Because of its importance in terms of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the temple was classified as a national cultural and historic site in 1986. If you have the opportunity to visit Hanoi, this will be an interesting destination that you cannot miss out.