Thai Vi Temple – A sacred place in Ninh Binh province

Thai Vi Temple is known as an ancient temple built in 1958 when King Tran Thai Tong decided to retire to the mountains to rest. This place boasts majestic and magnificent natural scenery, with twin mountains and expansive rice fields where storks soar gracefully.

Thai Vi Temple – Magnificent Cultural and Historical Space

Brief Information about Thai Vi Temple

Thai Vi Temple is located in Ninh Hai, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh, boasting vast and airy natural surroundings, serving as a prominent cultural and historical relic as well as a tourist destination in Ninh Binh. Situated within the famous ecotourism area of Tam Coc – Bich Dong, it annually attracts millions of visitors. The temple mainly worships the early Tran dynasty kings such as Tran Thai Tong, Tran Thanh Tong, Tran Nhan Tong, Tran Anh Tong, the generals Tran Hung Dao, Tran Quang Khai, and Queen Thuan Thien. All of them contributed to the establishment of Vu Lam Palace, a crucial stronghold in the resistance against the Mongol invaders. During every Tet holiday, springtime, or temple festival season, Thai Vi Temple hosts gatherings where people from all directions come to participate in solemn ceremonies and various festive activities, providing entertainment and joy.

The Thai Vi Temple area is nestled within the renowned Tam Coc – Bich Dong scenic complex

History of the Establishment of Thai Vi Temple Historical Site in Ninh Binh

Unlike other grand and magnificent temples, Thai Vi Temple is simple and gentle, as it was the place where King Tran Thai Tong retreated for spiritual practice after years of governing the country. The first temple on this site was built by the king in 1258, immediately after the successful resistance against the Mongol invaders. King Tran Thai Tong, after abdicating the throne to his son, retreated to the Tam Coc mountains, establishing Thai Vi hermitage for meditation. Later on, other kings such as Tran Thanh Tong and Tran Nhan Tong also practiced spirituality here.

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Unique Features of Thai Vi Temple in Tam Coc

Boat Trip along the Tam Coc – Bich Dong River from the Dinh Cac Pier

Currently, there are two ways to reach Thai Vi Temple: by road through the Van Lam ferry crossing and then turning onto the road parallel to the Ngo Dong River to reach the temple, or you can take a boat trip along the river into Tam Coc. However, the waterway entrance is particularly unique. You will be transformed into a tiny “dot” amidst the vast and expansive landscape of Tam Coc, surrounded by intertwining gray-green mountain ranges.

Tam Coc Bich Dong deserves the title of Ha Long Bay on land

Unique Classical Architecture Space

Nestled amidst the natural landscape like a painted picture, Thai Vi Temple features architecture in the “Domestic skill, Foreign style” manner. All the pillars inside and outside the temple are made of solid green stone, intricately carved on the outside with delicate and elegant floral patterns, rivaling wood carvings. In front of the temple is a jade well also built from green stone, maintaining its green color throughout the year. Behind the temple lies the majestic twin peaks of Cam Son rocky mountains. Inside the temple, there are numerous valuable ancient stone statues, stone steles, and ancient bronze bells. The stele tower records the merits of those who contributed to pilgrimage and temple construction.

The royal shrine inside the main hall is dedicated to the Tran dynasty kings

Upon entering the temple, you will see a large dragon courtyard, approximately 40m2, paved with green stone. Both the main path and the dragon courtyard are paved with green stone. On both sides are two rows of Vong houses – where ancestors used to discuss ritual matters. Additionally, Thai Vi Temple features the Five Great Gates with incredibly impressive carved architecture. Outside, stone pillars are engraved with prominent Han characters, while the stone verandas are finely sculpted with intricate dragon and moon motifs.

The tomb of King Tran Thai Tong – the first king of the Tran Dynasty.

From the dragon courtyard, stepping along the 1.2m-high stone steps leads to the (5 large doors), with six rows of parallel round stone columns, all intricately carved with dragon motifs facing the main facade. The outer faces of the stone columns are also carved with various motifs. The verandas are also made of stone, adorned with carvings.

The intricate and meticulous carvings above are adorned with an unfading red gemstone, untouched by the passage of time

Despite the many stone columns inside Thai Vi Temple, the stone artisans have “breathed life” into each pillar, imbuing them with more soul and artistic flair. Whether carving couplets or recording the merits of the Tran dynasty kings, each has its own uniqueness and special characteristics. In the Main Hall, statues of Tran dynasty kings are placed. If in the middle stands the statue of Tran Thanh Tong, to the left are the statues of Tran Thanh Tong and Tran Thai Tong, while to the right stands the statue of Queen Hien Tu. Every line on the faces is meticulously carved, faithfully depicting the portraits of the kings.

Participation in the Thai Vi Temple Festival – Annual National Festival of Ninh Binh Province

Every three years in the years of Tí, Ngọ, Mão, and Dậu, Thai Vi Temple holds an extremely large festival for three days on the 14th, 15th, and 16th of the 3rd lunar month. According to local beliefs in Tam Coc, after defeating the Mongol invaders, the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month is the day the king returned to Thiên Trường in Nam Định to pay respects to the ancestors and celebrate the victory. Therefore, this festival is also a celebration of the king’s victory and a tribute to the brave soldiers who sacrificed themselves for the nation. The Thai Vi Temple festival is a communal festival. On the afternoon of the 14th day, the people of Van Lam village perform the opening ceremony of the temple, carrying holy incense to the Dinh Cac shrine. Locals believe that in ancient times, this was where officials reported before entering the Vu Lam Palace and also where they worshipped the Tran kings. On the morning of the 15th day, villages in the Vu Lam commune will parade holy processions representing their villages to the Dinh Cac shrine to perform rituals.

The Thai Vi Temple Festival

First, the Khe Dau village – the eldest village, will parade the procession through villages such as Xuan Ang, Kha Luong, Hanh Cung, Ha Trao, and Tuan Cao. When the procession reaches a village, that village’s procession will join in, forming a continuous line until they reach the last village and head to the Dinh Cac shrine. Even the Dau village worships Prince Ngu Cau Vuong and Princess Huyen Tran of the Tran dynasty. After completing the rituals at the Dinh Cac shrine, the villages will continue to Thai Vi Temple to pay tribute to the Tran kings. After the rituals, there will be a performance of Ca Cong singing, with one person playing the musical instrument chanh and a lady dressed in a colorful Ao Dai singing praises to the virtues of the Tran kings.

Then, the villages will organize the procession of pulling the words “Thien Ha Thai Binh” and “Truc Lam Dao Si.” The procession team consists of 120 youths aged 14-15, evenly divided between males and females, forming two lines. First, they run in double rows in the middle, then spread out to the sides under the direction of the flag bearer. When they finish running the strokes of the words, they sit down to raise the words. Additionally, the festival also features many traditional folk games such as human chess, wrestling, lion dance, dragon dance, and boat racing.

Thai Vi Temple will undoubtedly be a highly worthwhile destination to visit, worthy of your time and effort. The special feature of the temple lies not only in its stunning natural scenery resembling a watercolor painting but also in its unique architecture, imbued with the passage of time, and its distinctive festivals. When exploring Ninh Binh, be sure not to miss Thai Vi Temple!



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