Co-Minister Tran Nguyen Han Temple - an Imposing Temple


We go to Lap Thach District on the beginning spring days. Lap Thach is a land of long aged history and many good practices. There are many historic vestiges, one of which is the Co-Minister Tran Nguyen Han temple.

Tran Nguyen Han Temple or Co-Minister Temple or Thuong (Upper) Temple is a work of art built in the Late le Dynasty, 200 years back. The vestige is closely connected with the life and achievements of a national hero-Tran Nguyen Han. He was descended from the clan of Tran dynasty and he was a general both talent and virtue complete. He devoted his great merit to support Le Loi defeating Ming dynasty invader in the Lam Son insurrection. His name was connected to the resounding victory as Tan Binh-Thuan Hoa, Bo Chinh, Dong Bo Dau, Xuong Giang. In 1928, Le Loi became a King. It was a primary Le dynasty. Tran Nguyen Han then was conferred the national character and a Co-Minister. After that, he resigned and settled in Son Dong, lap Thach District. As begrudged by the dishonest mandarin, so he had to drowned himself to the river. 26 years later, under King Le Nhan Tong, he was justified and was conferred “man of great merit of founding the state” then when came to Mac dynasty, he was bestowed a “Co-Minster Royal Highest’.

We can go to the Temple by many ways. From Viet Tri City we go on the river dyke and to Duc Bac ferry boat, we pass it then go to Son Dong Commune, Da Cai village. Here it is. We can take train to get off at Bach Hac station, then go to Phu Hau river boat post to Dong Mat, through Quan Tu village, nex is Da cai village. Or we can go on the provincial road No. 305 from the center of Lap Thach District to get there.

The Temple was constructed on a plain ground. The Temple is designed in the manner of the letter “Ting” (Chinese character) and the brick wall creating its campus as the letter “Tian” surrounded its three sides.  There are three construction items: entrance gate, cult and harem.  From its foundation, the temple has been restored many times but the main event occurred in 2011. The inter campus has been completed, including main worship temple, entrance gate, left side house, right side house, incense burning place, sword sharpening stone location, yard and fence wall. The Temple has five front worship rooms, three harem rooms, six sizeable pillar rows by the ironwood, which bear the characterized architecture art of the Late Le dynasty and Beginning Nguyen dynasty. The carvings, patterns for decoration and the worshipping objects as lacquered board, parallel sentences, ancestral tablet etc...were made by red lacquer trimmed with gold. They are typical of sculpture art and traditional folk graphic depict art.   

For the Temple, tourists can enjoy the solemnity and the peace. The sparrows and pycnonotus joscosus are chattering on the tile roofs and on the scented magnolia tree. Right in the front of the Temple, there is hundreds of years old barringtoia acutangular tree with its very violet buds. The elderly Tran Van De, Temple keeper, told that this tree is more than 400 years old. Every 15th day of July lunar day of every year, the tree blossoms it flower, the whole tree is covered by the showy red color then. Its fallen leaves make them as a carpet to help the tourists to go in a good mood. During the solemn and peaceful atmosphere, tourists can listen to the story of the sword sharpening stone of Co-Minister Tran Nguyen Han. Legend has it that, every night he brought his sword to sharpen on the stone near Son pond. Because of a long sharpening time, the stone traced a cut like a sword cut. The stone was covered by alluvium of Lo River a long time. On January 12, 1998, People of Da Cai village found it then craned and transported to seat it in the Tran Nguyen Han Temple’s campus for people to enjoy the remaining relic of the hero one-time.

Son Dong people in particular and Lap Thach people in general have paid great attention to and preserved the Co-Minister Tran Nguyen Han Temple year after year with their respectful feeling. On the village party day or on the birthday or his death anniversary and at the beginning of spring, hundreds of thousand people from far and near go there. Tran Thi Thuy, a child of Son Dong Commune, is now living in Viet Tri City, Phu Tho Province said, “Every year on his birthday (January 1 lunar month) my family goes there to burn the incense in memory. This year I have to go on mission on that day, so I go there several days earlier. I am very happy to see the investment given by the Province to make the Temple worthy to its scale, significance and value of history and culture”.

Son Dong people are prouder and prouder when “Vinh Phuc Tourism and Culture Week” the first time organized in Vinh Phuc, and carried the thurification in commemoration of his 584th day of his death right in the Temple. The thurification prepared by Lap Thach District is perfect. Some related vestiges such as rice filed, To pond, Holy mountain, sword sharpening stone, entrance gate, Dong Ho river port and others in the area such as Bac Co pagoda, Do Khac Cung Teacher temple, Am pagoda are restored and added some more landscape for tourists to go sightseeing. By effort made by the Culture branch and the local people, Tran Nguyen Han Temple  and So Dong vestige complex shall become one of the key points  of Vinh Phuc cultural and historic tourism.

Vinh Quang


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