Ngoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi
Ngoc Son Temple, one of the most visited temples in Hanoi, located at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake, close to Hanoi Old Quarter. The temple is a good place to relax and cool down in the soft breeze over the lake. There used to be a country villa, but in the 19th century, the site was converted a Buddhist pagoda. Then Ngoc Son temple was for the cult of a Chinese warrior, Quan Cong and later for the Spirits of Literature and the Soil. The shrine in Ngoc Son temple is now dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, a military national hero and to Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master. The recent building now reflects the Chinese style favored by the Nguyen rulers of that time.
In order to reach Ngoc Son temple, the visitors have to cross the red-painted wooden bridge called The Huc (Rising Sun). It was built by Nguyen Van Sieu and was the shape of a sickle-moon or an ivory comb. From The Huc Bridge, you can watch the sunrise. After crossing The Huc Bridge, you will reach the gate which has a small room with circular windows above. It’s called Moon Gazing Pavilion. Surrounding the gate, there are typical Chinese I Ching symbols of watching and protecting. On the left of Ngoc Son temple, a body of a giant soft backed turtle (rafetus Le Loi) was preserved. It was found in 1968 and 500 years old. There was a legend about this giant turtle, which took the magic sword of King Le Loi in the 15th century. Some of the local believe the turtle corpse is the actual turtle that appear in the mythology. Other giant turtles are still living in Lake Hoan Kiem. There are too many smaller turtles living here, too.
Inside the temple you can admire the view of the lake and you will be surprise how quite it is from the hustle and bustle of the outside. If the visitors luckily catch sight of a giant turtle’s head floating above water, it is considered a sign of good luck.