Buddhism has been considered one of the largest religion in Vietnam. Its influence can be shown though literature, music and architecture. Pagoda, therefore, is an iconic symbol for the existence of Buddhism throughout the country. Travelers to Vietnam generally visit some historic and antique sites, many of which would be pagodas, from the north to the south. But Thap Pagoda can be a good recommendation for those being keen on the religious, cultural as well as historical aspect.
Situated beside the dike of Duong River, in Bac Ninh province, you can easily reach But Thap pagoda with 30 minutes driving from Hanoi, or you would fancy taking a biking tour to But Thap from Hanoi. But Thap Pagoda is among the architectural sculptural works reflecting the expertise of Vietnam artisans. The time it was first constructed was said to be in the 13th century, under the Tran Dynasty and then was modified four centuries later by the Ly Dynasty. The most remarkable piece of the pagoda is Bao Nghiem tower or But Thap; subsequently, the pagoda was named after the name of this pinnacle.
Being one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, But Thap Pagoda has been a historical and religious site for pilgrims and tourists as well. Though going through centuries and decades with deconstruction of war, of nature and of human being, the pagoda has still existed, bringing along its antique style and holy atmosphere. Furthermore, today, the pagoda remains among a lavish overhang of perpetual trees and wild grass, influencing it to seem like a deserted old house when looking outside for the first time. Nevertheless, a visit to this pagoda will enable tourists to find different important antiquated articles and statues, including seventeenth century wood-cut magnum opuses. What’s more, its immaculate engineering and old fashioned figures, alongside its graceful excellence has roused a few painters and producers.
The pagoda was inspired by “Noi Cong Ngoai Quoc” structural style, and incorporates 10 structures spread more than 100m, from the three-entrance door to the bell tower and back house. Two towers, 10m high Ton Duc and 13m high Bao Nghiem, are made of white rock, influencing the pagoda to appear to be higher, more majestic and tranquil. Visitors will notice that in the hall and ground around But Thap pagoda, there are numerous advanced carvings picture of wood and stone which show excellent nature with creatures; and diverse statues of interesting creatures like the guardians of the pagoda. Then, passing three doors and eight-rooftop bell tower, they will achieve the main part of But Thap pagoda.
The whole pagoda consists of around 50 Buddha statues. However, the most surprising one that might be famous to Vietnamese people as well as foreigners is Bodhisattva Kuan-yin statue, which has 3.7m stature, 11 heads, a hundreds hands with each hand has an eye. The statue is viewed as a novel perfect work of art and speaks to secretive implications in Buddhism. Another feature is Bao Nghiem tower (But Thap). The eight-side pinnacle, which is resemble an enormous pen brush upraising toward the sky, is tall 13m and incorporates five story obstructs, each corner has one chime.
Having to say, But Thap Pagoda is not as gigantic and amazing as other famous site around Vietnam when comparing. However, that doesn’t mean it is lost and unknown. Thanks to its existence till today, Vietnamese people and visitors across the country can have something remaining to discover the unique and historic feature of Vietnamese history and architecture. Moreover, exploring the sacred beauty of But Thap Pagoda allows visitors to have a chance to admire its precious carved work, enrich our knowledge of the traditional rites of worshipers and also enjoy the solemn and tranquil atmosphere there.