The five must-visit destinations in Duong Lam ancient village in Hanoi
Duong Lam ancient village is not only famous for the typical peaceful features of the northern countryside of Vietnam, but it also preserves many long-standing historical and cultural values.
An introduction to Duong Lam Ancient Village
Duong Lam Ancient Village. Photo: dulichchaovietnam.com
Duong Lam Ancient Village is located in Son Tay district (Hanoi), 44km west from the city center. Duong Lam is the hometown of many famous heroes, including Phung Hung (the leader of the third uprising against the domination of the Tang Dynasty during from 602 to 905) and Ngo Quyen (the first king of the Ngo Dynasty in Vietnamese history), so this place is also called the “land of two kings”. In the past, Duong Lam consisted of 9 sub-villages in Cam Gia Thinh canton, Phuc Tho district, Son Tay province. It is noted that the five villages of Mong Phu, Dong Sang, Cam Thinh, Doai Giap and Cam Lam were adjacent to each other. These villages are linked together into a unified whole with customs, practices and beliefs that have remained unchanged for thousands of years.
On May 19, 2006, Duong Lam Village became the first ancient village in Vietnam to be awarded by the State as a cultural and historical relic thanks to its architectural heritage as well as other historical and cultural values.
Must-visit destinations in Duong Lam Ancient Village
Mong Phu Gate
Mong Phu is the most famous ancient village gate in Vietnam.
There are many entrances to Duong Lam ancient village, but Mong Phu gate (in Mong Phu village) is a must-visit destination as it is the most famous ancient village gate in Vietnam. Mong Phu gate was built from the Later Le Dynasty in 1553 during the reign of King Le Than Tong. Its architecture is in the style of “the upper being like a house, the bottom being like a gate”. The gate is made of laterite dug from the ground. Meanwhile, the sand was taken on a mound in the region and then mixed with lime and honey to create a sticky mixture to build the gate. The walls were built of laterite while the ceiling utilized the pointing method of construction. The two gates were made of ironwood with a width of five centimeters, swinging on two stone hinges and two armored wooden wheels.
The village gate is engraved with a parallel right under the crossbeam. The first sentence on the left means the village gate was built in the year of Ky Mao. Based on the content of this sentence, the researchers determined the time when the gate was built (1553). Meanwhile, the sentence on the right means “It is necessary to promote the traditional spiritual and cultural values of the village (the values of studiousness, solidarity, and martial arts). At the same time, you need to adapt to have a prosperous life”.
The laterite gate is designed like a house. Photo: vietravel
Mong Phu village gate also has similar features like other traditional gates of the ancient North of Vietnam, such as the banyan tree or well.
Mong Phu communal house
Historians believe that the communal house of Mong Phu village was also built in the Later Le Dynasty (14th century), under the reign of King Le Than Tong. The communal house was a place to worship Tan Vien Son Thanh - the leader of the Four Immortals of the Vietnamese. He is considered as the village’s deity. In the 12th year under the reign of King Tu Duc (1859), the communal house was expanded. Its architecture has remained unchanged until now.
The communal house of Mong Phu village. Photo: wikipedia
The main gate of the communal house consists of four square pillars built of bricks. On the top of the two bigger pillars are two sitting lions looking at the middle, while on the top of the two smaller pillars are two vases. The three sides of each pillar are engraved with Chinese parallels. In the campus, the Ta Mac house is used to worship the ancestors of the clans in the village, while Huu Mac house is the place to worship people who made great contributions to the development of the village. The outstanding work of the communal house is Dai Dinh House with three compartments and two smaller rooms, which features the traditional architecture of wooden houses in the past of Vietnam.
The dragon's head is carved in the communal house. Photo: kienthuc
The roof of the communal house is slightly curved, roofed with tiles, and carved with two dragons. Additionally, the corners of the roof bend up to create the shape of a dragon. In the communal house, decorative motifs such as birds, flowers, leaves, clouds, dragons and tigers are all intricately carved. Most notably, there are a lot of horizontal lacquered boards and parallels here, such as the one given to the village by King Thanh Thai after the village succeeded in catching robbers. This place also has many artifacts, including 17 ordaining documents, palanquins, bowls, wooden sacrifices, ceramics, and ancient doors.
The horizontal lacquered board in Chinese, showing the praise of the king to the village. Photo: Nguyen Thi Ngoc
Giang Van Minh Worship House
The entrance to Giang Van Minh Worship House. Photo: baodulich.net
Giang Van Minh Worship House was built in 1845 in Mong Phu village. This is the place where the scholar Giang Van Minh is worshiped.
It is said that Giang Van Minh was born in 1573 in the village. He earned the third highest academic title in the exam in the year of Mau Thin, during the reign of King Le Than Tong in 1628. In 1673, he was sent to China as an ambassador by King Le. As the Chinese king wanted to test the talent of the Vietnamese ambassador, he asked Giang Van Minh to make a parallel. Giang Van Minh immediately responded with two sentences showing his strong spirit. After that, the king of China thought that he was insulted by Giang Van Minh, so he killed him and then transferred his body back to Vietnam. Hearing that Giang Van Minh died heroically, King Le and Lord Trinh deeply mourned. The king himself went to Giang Van Minh’s hometown to attend the funeral and gave him a few Chinese words, meaning "As the ambassador completed the mission based on the king's order, he was worthy to be a hero of all times”. At the same time, the king also posthumously conferred on Giang Van Minh the title of a high position in the court. The death anniversary of Giang Van Minh is on the second of June (lunar calendar).
The facade of the worship house. Photo: baodulich.net
The house covers an area of about 400m2 in the shape of the letter “two” (in Chinese), including the front and back halls. The gate stands out with Chinese characters, which means “The Worship House of Giang Van Minh”. The back hall is the main place of worship with beautiful illuminated altarpieces. Some precious relics are: 20 Chinese parallels (10 written on illuminated wood and 10 written on pillars), three stone stelea, and four horizontal lacquered boards.
Mia Pagoda. Photo: VOVgiaothong
Mia Pagoda (also known as Sung Nghiem pagoda) is located in Duong Lam commune, Son Tay town, Hanoi. Previously, this area was called Cam Gia, which means “Mia” in the Nom language (ancient Vietnamese). That explains why people in the area have called it Mia pagoda for generations.
Initially, the pagoda was relatively small. In 1632, Ms. Ngo Thi Ngoc Dieu - a concubine in the Lord Trinh Trang's palace - restored the pagoda. As she was from this village, she was loved by the people here with the respectful name "Lady Mia". A statue of her was created and put in the pagoda to be worshiped with a separate altar. Although the pagoda has been repaired many times, up to now, it seems to have been preserved intact.
The 13-meter-high stupa called “Cuu Pham Lien Hoa” in the Mia Pagoda. Photo: mytour
The architecture of the pagoda is based on the traditional style of Vietnam. The bell tower is a three-room house; the roof corners are decorated with Vietnamese ancient patterns; and the floor is made of wood. There is a bell cast in the fourth year of Canh Hung reign (1743) and another cast in the sixth year of Thieu Tri reign (1864). Near the bell tower, there is a 13-meter-high stupa called “Cuu Pham Lien Hoa” that worships Buddha's relics. The place is divided into two parts, namely Trung Pagoda and Thuong Pagoda. There are two corridors connecting Trung Pagoda and Thuong Pagoda, which surround the Buddha Hall in the middle.
In the corridor on the left are nine Arhat statues with different postures. Photo: @vietise
Mia Pagoda has the most artistic statues in Vietnam - 287 statues with different sizes - in which there are six bronze statues, 106 wooden statues and 174 illuminated terracotta statues. Thuong Pagoda has earthen caves, and there are many statues in and around these caves. It is noted that Quan Am Nam Hai is one of the rare statues in northern pagodas as well as in Vietnam. Another prominent statue in Mia Pagoda is Quan Am Tong Tu (0.76m high), commonly known as Lady Thi Kinh - a meek, graceful but slightly sad woman holding a chubby baby.
The statue of Quan Am Tong Tu (0.76m high), which is commonly known as Lady Thi Kinh. Photo: phatgiao.org
Mia Pagoda was recognized as an architectural and art monument by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam.
Duong Lam ancient village has up to 956 ancient houses, among which the oldest one was built in 1649. All of them were built from traditional materials, such as sapele wood, bamboo or baked brick. Each house has its own beauty, but the common feature is that all of them consist of 5 or 7 rooms, with a typically idyllic and peaceful setting of the ancient Northern village of Vietnam.
A typical ancient house in Duong Lam Village. Photo: @cuong_jamie
The old houses are designed with 5- or 7-room architecture - Photo: @wecheckin
Phung Hung and Ngo Quyen Temple
Phung Hung Temple. Photo: Vietsugiaithoai
There are many temples worshiping Phung Hung in Vietnam, among which, the one in Duong Lam Ancient Village has the largest scale, but the date of construction is still unknown. Phung Hung was the leader of the April uprising of the year Tan Mui (791) against the harsh domination of the Tang Dynasty. The temple features the architecture of the Nguyen Dynasty (in the early years of the twentieth century), including works such as: Ta - Huu Mac, Dai Bai, Hau Cung. In 1889, under the reign of King Thanh Thai, the temple was restored and has the appearance as it is today. In Doai Giap communal house of the temple campus, there is a stele which was carved in the fourth year of Hong Duc reign (1473). It records a lot of information related to the life and merits of Phung Hung.
Ngo Quyen Temple. Photo: Wecheckin
About 500m from Phung Hung Temple is the temple and mausoleum of Ngo Quyen - the first king of the Ngo Dynasty in Vietnamese history. The temple was built about 100m away from the mausoleum, which is located on a high hill called Cam Hill. It is said that this is probably the most beautiful location of Duong Lam village in the past. Ngo Quyen temple was built a long time ago and repaired many times. The most recent renovation was during the reign of King Tu Duc (1848-1883). The temple includes works such as Nghi Mon, Ta Mac, Huu Mac, Dai Bai (Tien Duong) and Hau Cung. Currently, Dai Bai is utilized as a gallery displaying relics related to the battle victory on Bach Dang River as well as Ngo Quyen's life and merits. The mausoleum of King Ngo Quyen was restored in the second year of Minh Mang reign (1821), and then was rebuilt in the 27th year of Tu Duc reign (1874). There are 18 ancient streblus asper trees, which are believed to be the place where Ngo Quyen tethered his elephants and horses in the past.
How to travel to Duong Lam ancient village
If you ride a motorbike or drive a car, you can follow the direction of Thang Long Boulevard or Road 32 from Nhon - Son Tay to reach Duong Lam ancient village. Specifically, you can choose from the following two routes:
- Hanoi -> Thang Long Boulevard -> Hoa Lac junction -> Turn right along Road 21 -> Son Loc -> Intersection with Road 32. There is a signpost to help you get to Duong Lam Ancient Village.
- Hanoi -> Travel in the direction of Nhon -> Highway 32 to Son Tay town -> Intersection with Road 21. There is a turn to Duong Lam village on the left side of the road here.
From My Dinh station to Son Tay station, take the bus number 71 with a ticket price of VND 14,000; from Kim Ma station to Son Tay station, take the bus number 70; and from Ha Dong station to Son Tay station, take the bus number 77. After arriving at Son Tay bus station, you can take a motorbike taxi or taxi to Duong Lam Ancient Village.
When visiting Duong Lam village, you should walk or rent a bicycle. For renting a bicycle, the cost is about VND 30,000/hour or VND 100,000/day.
Visiting Duong Lam ancient village with a bicycle is an interesting choice. Photo: Wecheckin
The appropriate time to visit Duong Lam Ancient Village
The most ideal time to visit Duong Lam Ancient Village is the festival or ripe rice season. The festival season usually takes place in February with a bustling atmosphere. The rice season is around May and June. You can admire the scene of ripe rice and golden straws all over the village streets, which is very peaceful.
The brick roads of the village are covered with straw. Photo: Ktds.vn
References: Sontay.hanoi, Phatgiao.org