Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mountain of old pagodas and sweeping views

Tram Mountain on the outskirts of Hanoi is ideal for day-trippers.
Tram Mountain is a famous scenic attraction 25 kilometers from the center of Hanoi.
The first place that tourists usually check out when they visit the mountain is Tram Pagoda, shaded by ancient trees. After lighting some joss-sticks and saying a few prayers before the different altars, visitors can go on to discover the lovely Long Tien Pagoda nearby.
Long Tien is situated inside a cave of the same name. In its largest section is Buddha’s altar, with statues of many arhats around.
There’s a mysterious beauty in the stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave and the cool water that flows from under the rocks that locals call "mother’s breasts."
The cave also has a narrow, twisting passage commonly called the "valley of love" because it is hard to squeeze through and mirrors the tortuous ways of young couples.
After Long Tien Cave comes a test of fitness: scrambling up to the summit of Tram Mountain.
On the rise before the final summit sits yet another pagoda, Tram Vo Vi, around 500 meters and 100 rock steps up from Tram Pagoda.
The original temple that stood there was built in 1515 at the urging of Tran Van Tang, an army general who became a monk and traveled everywhere to preach.
Getting to the very top of Tram Mountain requires traversing a steep, narrow cleft. The view from the summit is great and takes in lush paddy fields all the way to the Day River and heaps of magnificent mountains, forests and lakes.
To reach the mountain from Hanoi, take National Highway 6 to the West in the direction of Ha Dong for 20 kilometers to get to Chuc Son in Chuong My District. Cross the small bridge, turn right and go for two more kilometers.
Or simply book a day trip with Vietnamtravelrates at 224 Thuy Khue Street, Hanoi.
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