Hoa Lu Ancient Capital: Dinh & Le Temples

You can find many unique temples in Ninh Binh especially Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh Temple in the very first capital of Vietnam. The Dinh and Le temples, regarded as one of the top 10 places to visit in Ninh Binh, are two extremely well-preserved national treasures that still retains a lot of Vietnamese traditional style. Here, let’s explore these splendid locations in your travel to Vietnam.

Things to Do and See in Dinh & Le Temples

Both temples are located in Trang An Landscape Complex, thus, you can contemplate the utmost beauty of Vietnamese nature. Tourists will be amazed at the limestone mountains and the vast fields and plants surrounding the places. It will be a great opportunity to take wonderful pictures of the region.

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The Magnificent Nature in Trang An

On the other hand, your purpose for coming is to witness the excellent creation of Vietnamese in the past. The first one is Dinh Tien Hoang Temple dedicated to the king who united the country. He was just a buffalo boy and yet, he defeated 12 generals occupied in different provinces, kind of like the daimyos in The Sengoku period (Age of Civil War) of Japanese history. After that incredible feat, he decided to become king and settled in Hoa Lu.

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The Way into Dinh Tien Hoang Temple

King Dinh Tien Hoang marked an independent and unification age of Vietnam resulted in the love, admiration of the people for him and the creation of Dinh Tien Hoang Temple. Although there are quite a few other destinations that worship him, Dinh Temple is the only places devoted to his entire family and generals. 

Dinh Tien Hoang Temple was followed the strict architecture rules and also based on Feng Shui, a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing people with the environment around. From the beginning, you will enter through Ngo Mon (Ngo Gate) to the Dinh Temple. Visitors can see the first perfect example of Vietnamese ancient temple gate with three roofs on each other. Afterward, venturing through 2 tall pillars and tourists will reach dragon yard in which a big bed with magnificent dragon carvings. 

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Dragons on the Roof

The main house of Dinh Temple consisting of Bai Duong, Thien Huong, and Chinh Cung. Bai Duong is for the community and has 5 rooms featuring the architecture from the 15th century. Thien Huong is an incense room in which people honor 4 pillars (or mandarins) of the Dinh dynasty.  After that, it is time for you to visit Chinh Cung, the last and most important part of the Temple where the king and his sons are worshiped.

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The Statue of the King

From the start to the end of this destination, you may find a great number of sculptures in different shape and size. That is also the highlights of your trip to Dinh Tien Hoang Temple. There will be sculptures of imaginative animals in the past such as dragons and qilin or real animals like horses and the statues of the king, and his sons.   

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Dragon Stone Sculpture

Alongside with Dinh Temple, Le Dai Hanh Temple is one of the best ancient temples in the country. In term of architecture, Le Temple is almost the same as the other one with a few differences. Visiting this place, tourists will encounter lots of sculptures and the one-of-a-kind Hon Non Bo (the Vietnamese art of imitating the scene of nature) which is quite similar to bonsai in Japan and penjing in China. You can find Hon Non Bo of Phoenix, Tiger, Elephant and so on around the temple. 

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Almost the Same Architecture Style

Like in Dinh Temple, you will contemplate the excellent sculpture of the king and his family in Chinh Cung including a statue of Queen Duong Van Nga, a special person in Vietnamese history. As tourists, you may find all the statues kind of the same, however, they had been repaired and preserved by different dynasties. Therefore, each of them has different features and style from the past. The wood sculpture is also exceptional created by the craftsmen from the 17th century.

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King Le Dai Hanh Altar

The Queen of Two Kings

Queen Duong Van Nga is no doubt the most popular female figure according to Vietnamese historians. She was one of the wives of King Dinh Tien Hoang at first before he and his sons were assassinated. Since the last sons of the king were too young (6 years old), he cannot rule the kingdom especially when Chinese army invaded from the North.

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Queen Duong Van Nga Statue in Le Temple

The avoid the last thousand-year colonization in the past, the queen decided to give the crown to the commander-in-chief Le Hoan. After he defeated the invaders, he married the former queen as his queen with the new name Le Dai Hanh. As a result, there is a statue of queen Duong Van Nga in Le Temple, but not in Dinh temple. However, the people still put the statue facing the direction to Dinh Tien Hoang Temple to show that her heart still belongs to her first husband.