The Thầy Pagoda

Upper courtyard of the Thay Pagoda. Probably the word exquisite has not been used on this site before, but the upper courtyard of the Thầy pagoda evokes strong praise. It oozes history and charm and does so on a human scale that is enchanting. The atmosphere, on the day of this photograph, was enhanced by a slight mist, which you can just see, shrouding the hilltop The Master's Pagoda (Chùa Thầy) lies about 20 miles (30 Kilometres) west of central Hà Nội. The main buildings nestle among the rocks at the top of a steeply sloping hill. But there are other buildings at the foot of the hill by the lake. The climb between the two parts is hard work - don't go in the summer. The master in this case was one Đạo Hành, a herbalist in the local village of Sài Sơn practising sometime during the 11th century. Traditions are too opaque to be clear about the extent of his Buddhist involvement, but now the complex is a Buddhist centre as the use of the word Pagoda (Chùa) shows. The pool and pagoda buildings at the bottom of the hill. These three pictures show the pavilion, by the lake, successively closer. The hill with the main buildings is out of sight to the left Closer shot of the pavilion and other buildings. The part of the lower pagoda is in the background, the foreground building is in fact normally on an island, at the time of this picture the water level had been lowered, you can see the normal water level by the green colour... Close shot of the pavilion and its reflection. ...on the building; a building possibly made more delightful for its need of care and attention Looking back through the gateway with trees beyond. The view looking back down the hill Looking on through the gateway to rocks and roofs. Through an inner gate the hilltop buildings appear Visitors carefully descending the steep steps. The sideways movement of these visitors shows the steepness of the descent One of the wooden entrance doors. Fine wooden doors at this entrance gate Looking over the roof tops of the main buildings. More of the rooftops seen as the path ascends The entrance gate with inscription on one side. Chinese characters surround this entrance Rocks, trees and roofs all intertwined. Rocks projecting between the buildings on the hilltop Small shrine with tiled roof and large notice on box. A small shrine amongst the buildings, with a large notice saying roughly 'Charity Box' A sharp toothed dragon on a wall with a Chinese sign behind it. A small sharp toothed dragon in defensive mode emerges from a wall. The Chinese sign behind it will be as opaque to Vietnamese as to us Stairway between buildings. Passageways emphasise the huddled nature of the packed buildings... Passageway and steps between buildings. ...trying to fit into the very limited space on the hilltop The roof of which a detail was shown above. The rooftops by the courtyard (see top picture) with the turned up corners and open eves so typical of classic public buildings in Vietnam Dragons writhing in the eves of a roof. The open end of the roof, shown above, festooned in dragons to keep out unwanted guests Young couple of visitors saying 'Hi' to the camera. Younger visitors find the climb strenuous too. The Vietnamese for two is hai, hence the greeting Steps to the upper courtyard. Looking down at the shrine pictured higher up the page (with charity box) - a worker waves Another shot of the buildings at ground level framed by branches. O.K. you have (nearly) seen this shot already - but my excuse is that it does suggest something of the Vietnamese Tourist Board's slogan "The hidden charm of Vietnam" Trailers... Thai stilt house on the edge of the village of Mai Chau. The next page of this section takes you further west from Hà Nội, beyond the Thầy Pagoda, to the village of Mai Châu. Paddy field with lines of water showing between lines of paddy. The next page of the Mosaic Section is to be headed 'Nature's Grain'.
Or go to the contents of the Mosaic Section.
Saturday 4th July 2020 Murphy on duty to this site

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