Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi
This lovely, small temple lies right in the heart of the bustling Old Quarter and was a short walk away from where I was staying. I came here just before Tet (Vietnamese lunar New Year) celebrations and there were plenty of religious offerings of food and flowers inside. Legend has it that in the ninth century, King Ly Thai To was trying to build the Hanoi Citadel, but the walls kept collapsing. Bach Ma (White Horse), who was the spirit of Thang Long (Ancient Hanoi), posed as a builder to help the King. This temple was then founded in honour of the spirit. A statue of the horse stands beside the altar. The current structure is typical of Hanoi pagodas and was built in the 18th century.
Bach Ma (White Horse) Temple is the oldest religious building in the Old Quarter. It was built in 1010 by King Le Thai To as a kind of thank you to the white horse that came to him in a dream. The King had been trying to get the city walls up, but they kept falling down. In the dream, the horse told him where to put them...he followed the horses instructions, and all was well. When we were there the place was being restored and there was scaffolding everywhere...it looks to be an ongoing job. I was fascinated to see the castle of beer cans that had been left as an offering. Beer? And religion? I've gotta change religions!
This temple is 100 years old and is nicely situated at the Old Quarters. Step inside and you will suddenly feel like you are being sucked into a vacuum away from all the noise of the streets. Its worth a visit because there is no entrance fees.... hahahah...
"Bach Ma" in Chinese means "white horse". It is a little temple near to Cua O Quan Chuong (Old East Gate). It rather old at the exterior as well as the interior. There was no one attending to the temple when we were there. Columns of red pillars and a panel of well carved pictures of the dragons - very Chinese.
Ly King used the pagoda to pray for assistance in building the city walls because they collapsed every time they were erected. His prayers were answered when a white horse appeared out of the temple and guided him to the site where the walls could be safely built.
This is evidenced by the Cua O Quan Chuong (Old East Gate) which is near to the Bach Ma Temple
Bac Ma is the oldest temple in Hanoi and crammed into the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, it offers a glimpse into what inner city life must have been like nearly a century ago, before the advent of Communism versus the Western World. Though dating back to 1010, the ancient temple was lovingly restored in 2000 on its 990th anniversary. It is still a major spot of worship for both locals and Vietnamese visitors and was quite busy during the days leading up to TET as well. It's inner courtyard was very peaceful despite the hectic activities just outside in preparation of the festival.
This is a tiny temple nestled in the old quarter... There were supposed to be white bearded guards sipping tea outside but I never saw them... (I went more than once) not because of them but because the lighting was good inside the temple... on a sunny day beams of sun light come through holes in the ceiling... It's quite beautiful!
A small temple right in the center of Hanoi and almost the only one without an entry fee. Nice lacquered panels.