VietnamDiary 12 – The Temple of Literature

Next day we had our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia from Hanoi. Since the flight was in the early evening, I decided to visit The Temple of Literature as it was right across the street from the place we were staying in.

The Temple of Literature all lit up @night.
Temple of Literature

It is a beautiful structure and probably the most picturesque. It was built in 1070 during the reign of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong of Tran Dynasty as a dedication to the great Scholar and Sage, Confucius.  The buildings are built in typical Vietnamese styles and are well preserved. It houses Vietnam’s first national university, the Imperial Academy. There are various halls, statues and pavilions where study sessions, offering ceremonies are held.

The Temple of Literature appears on a 100,000 Vietnamese Dong bank note. Every Vietnamese New Year, calligraphers assemble and write wishes in Han characters and distribute them people as gifts, which they hang in their homes as decorations for special occasions.

On VND 100,000 banknote. (photo from internet)

The temple is modeled on the Temple in Shandong in eastern China covering an area of 54,000 square meters. The entrance is via the main gate with four tall pillars in the front. The gate opens onto three pathways which continue through the complex. The center path was used by the Emperor, the left path was for the administrative Mandarins while the right path was used by the military. Over the centre path is a big bronze bell which was rung to announce that an important person was on way and can be touched by the monks only.

Inside there are five courtyards. The first courtyards have trimmed trees and lawns where the scholars used to relax. The first courtyard leads to the second pavilion, the Khue Van. The third pavilion has a Thein Quang well and on either sides are two great halls housing the temple’s treasures.

A Calligrapher.

You enter the fourth pavilion through the third via Dai Thanh gate, which has two smaller gates on the sides. In the fifth pavilion is the Imperial Academy where students lived and studied for three to seven years.

It is one place you should visit when you have adequate time and preferably with a guide.

From here I went to the place we were staying and then off to the Airport. For my Cambodia travel check out my next blog.

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