Perfume Pagoda – Hanoi, Vietnam
Perfume Pagoda (Vietnamese: Chùa Hương, Chinese: 香寺) is a vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines built into the limestone Huong Tich mountains. It is the site of a religious festival which draws large numbers of pilgrims from across Vietnam. The centre of the Huong Temple lies in Hương Sơn Commune, Mỹ Đức District, former Hà Tây Province (now Hanoi).
The centre of this complex is the Perfume Temple, also known as Chua Trong (Inner Temple), located in Huong Tich Cave.
The mouth of the cave has the appearance of an open dragon’s mouth with Chu Nho characters carved in a wall at the mouth of the cave. The characters (Nam thien de nhat dong) are translated as “the foremost cave under the Southern Heavens” and the carving is dated to 1770. The words are attributed by some to the ruler of that time, Thinh Do Lord Trinh Sam.
Inside the cave there are many statues. There is a large statue of Buddha, as well as one of Quan Am, both made of a green stone. Quan Am’s “left leg is stretched out and the foot lies on a lotus flower, her right leg is bent and is supported by a lotus flower with supple leaves; a hand holds a pearl.” There are also statues of Arhats and various other figures. Among the naturally occurring features of the cave are numerous stalactites and stalagmites, some of which are worn smooth from years of rubbing by visitors to the cave.