Visiting the unique pagoda built of corals and coconut shells in Phu Yen
Thanh Luong is a pagoda with a unique construction as it was mainly built of corals and coconut shells. The thrilling story of the Buddha statue emerging from the sea has made many people curious. This is definitely an interesting destination that tourists should not ignore when coming to Phu Yen.
The mysterious Buddha statue drifting in from the sea
Thanh Luong pagoda is located in My Quang Nam village - a fishing village in An Chan commune, Tuy An district. This place is 10km to the north of Tuy Hoa city center and is surrounded by a crowded fishing community. The climate here is cool all year round with beautiful scenery.
Thanh Luong Pagoda. Photo: phuyentourism.vn
Legend has it that Thanh Luong pagoda was built by a group of Chinese merchants, but there is no record of the time when it was constructed. The elderly in the village said that the pagoda has existed since the village was formed.
Thanh Luong pagoda is famous for the story of the Buddha statue drifting in from the sea. On December 24th, 2004, a precious wooden statue of Bodhisattva in a standing posture on a dragon with a height of 2m2 drifted in the sea area of Hon Dua, which is not far from the pagoda. Regardless of strong waves, the statue kept floating near the shore without being swept out or washed up on the beach like tree branches. What is more thrilling is that dozens of boats failed to get the statue. Then, monk Quang Ngo - the abbot of Thanh Luong pagoda - got on a boat with the fishermen to recite Tripitaka and pray. Surprisingly, the Buddha statue automatically followed the boat to the shore.
The drifting Buddha statue was brought back to Thanh Luong pagoda by the abbot. Photo: dulichvietnam
Although the Buddha statue was no longer intact due to the wear and tear of time and sea water, people easily recognized the original posture of Bodhisattva. No one could determine the origin and age of the statue, but they only guessed that it was created about 100 years ago from a strange kind of wood. As the statue has no hands, it has made many people curious. Currently, the Buddha statue is being worshiped in Thanh Luong pagoda.
For pilgrims at Thanh Luong Pagoda, Bodhisattva is often regarded as the Eastern Mother as she symbolizes compassion and gentleness. Venerable Thich Quang Ngo said: "When I brought her to the Triratna Hall of the pagoda, the statue was covered with sea marks as if the Mother had to bear all the sufferings and hurts in this world. That was also the selfless ‘happiness' of Bodhisattva”.
The unique architecture of Thanh Luong pagoda
The main hall of Thanh Luong pagoda. Photo: phuyentourism
Not only is Thanh Luong pagoda famous for the mysterious story of the Buddha statue drifting in, but it also attracts visitors thanks to the unique architecture. The main hall of the pagoda was built mainly from coconut shells and corals - the typical materials in this coastal region. Coconut shells represent purity while corals are regarded as the refuge of marine species, which explains why these two materials were selected for the construction of the pagoda.
The main materials to build the pagoda are corals and coconut shells. Photo: dulichvietnam
To build the pagoda with coconut shells and corals, people took advantage of the long-abandoned coral blocks at the end of the beach by bringing them back to classify, cut and grind them meticulously. Next, they put corals on different parts of the pagoda in the shape of a swastika, geometric patterns or waves. Inside the pagoda, thousands of pieces of coconut shells are used to tile the wall with harmoniously mixed colors of brown, black and white. Thanh Luong is also the first pagoda in Vietnam to put natural materials into architecture to create friendliness and closeness to the environment.
The first pagoda in Vietnam to put natural materials into architecture to create friendliness and closeness to the environment. Photo: @ame_moon
Explaining the name of the pagoda, Venerable Thich Quang Ngo shared: "Thanh Luong means serenity and peace. In this chaotic life, sometimes people want to slow down the pace of life by going to pagodas to find peace of mind and regain life balance. That simple message affected the architecture and scenery here".
Passing through the gate of the pagoda, you will see the Maitreya statue with a peaceful smile. Photo: phuyentourism
The campus is open and airy with a lot of trees. Photo: dulichvietnam
The pagoda campus is not majestic or splendid, but very idyllic like the personality of the people here. You can easily recognize this right from the path leading to the pagoda, the gate and the Maitreya statue with a peaceful smile. To the left of the pagoda is a pond full of lotus blossoms. The roofs look ancient with the mossy red-brown tiles. The entire campus of the pagoda seems to be “hidden” under old trees, giving Buddhists a sense of peace.
Another outstanding feature of the pagoda campus is the giant Buddha statue hidden in a blue lake.
How to get to Thanh Luong Pagoda
Visitors from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City can buy a flight ticket to Tuy Hoa airport, which is 10km south from the city center. To get here, you can take a taxi or motorbike taxi with prices ranging from VND 50,000 to 100,000.
Visitors can also choose a bus or train to Tuy Hoa city center, then travel to the North (about 14km) along Le Duan street (next to the sea) to Tuy An district. It is noted that the pagoda is located near the famous Xep Beach. The price of tickets depends on the form of transport, but it is often around VND 500,000/ticket for traveling to this destination.
Phu Yen is not only a province with impressive and magnificent nature, but it also attracts tourists thanks to its very own historical and cultural values. Among those, Thanh Luong pagoda is one of the highlights that you should definitely visit.