Tay Ninh, one of the leading spiritual destinations in Vietnam, is home to the Ba Den (Madame Black) Mountain with the 300-year-old Ba Pagoda complex.
Legend has it that Nguyen Anh was pursued by the Tay Son army, and he hid in Ba Den Mountain and prayed for help to save his starving soldiers. That night Ba Den appeared in his dream and showed him where to get mountain fruits. In 1790 Nguyen Anh sent soldiers to the mountain to cast statues and build a pagoda.
Nguyen Anh or Gia Long was the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last (1802-1945).
The place is considered one of the most sacred in the south and attracts pilgrims from all over the country and around the world. The major deity on the mountain is Linh Son Thanh Mau, and millions come to seek her blessings every year.
Ba Den Mountain consists of three mountains, Ba, Phung and Heo. Ba Mountain, dubbed the roof of southern Vietnam, is the tallest among them.
The pagoda’s main place of worship is a small cave with the altar of Goddess Ba Den.
Earlier people had to walk up the mountain, but in early 2020 a cable car system was installed by Sun Group, and it is now a comfortable 10-minute ride to the top.
The cable car system to Ba Pagoda.
The summit offers a panoramic view of the surrounding areas.
Thien Lam Pagoda is in Long Thanh Trung Commune in Hoa Thanh District. Also known as Go Ken Pagoda, it is a century-old pagoda with two giant Buddha statues: a 25-meter-high Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara atop a seven-meter-tall dragon (pictured) and a 25-meter-long reclining Buddha.
Thien Lam Pagoda attracts a large number of locals and visitors. The chanting of the monks at the pagoda and the bells make for a serene setting.
The Tay Ninh Holy See of Caodaism is situated 5 km east of Tay Ninh Town. The religion of Caodaism sprung up locally. Cao Dai means “the highest power” and the religion is formally known as The Great Faith for the Third Universal Redemption.
The main icon of Caodaism is an eye that casts a glow representing the Supreme Deity. Caodaism also worships other deities like Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, and Guanyin. Their images can be seen at many places in the Holy See.
Worshippers gather for prayers at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. every day at the Holy See. Visitors are allowed to observe them.
The architectural beauty of the Holy See is itself an attraction.
A marriage of European and Asian architectural styles, the Tay Ninh Holy See combines the traits of many religions.
The Holy See has separate entrances for women and men. The floor is divided into nine levels, and the ceiling is divided into nine sections representing nine skies.
The pillars inside the Holy See have carved dragons with lotus paintings.
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