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The ancestral land of Hung Kings

The Hung Kings' Temple is a national ancestors-worshiping place. It has the architecture of the Ly (1009-1225) and the Tran (1226-1400) dynasties and has been embellished through different periods.

"Wherever we go, up the mountains or down to the plains,

Remember our ancestors' death anniversary on the 10th day of Lunar month of March".

These words seem to invite all Vietnamese people from all parts of the country and abroad who have the sense of moral traditions such as the saying "When drinking water, remembering its source", to pilgrimage to the historic site of the Hung Kings' Temple in Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province and attend the anniversary of our ancestors’ death - the Hung Kings.

Taking a ride from Hanoi along the National Highway 2 through Viet Tri City, visitors will reach the historical site of the Hung Kings' Temple, a place connected with a legend of 18 generations of Hung Kings who established the State of Van Lang. According to researchers, the 18 generations of Hung Kings and Van Lang State existed for nearly 500 years and are connected with Go Mun archeological artifacts dating back about 3,000 years (which were discovered in Tu Xa Commune, Lam Thao District, Phu Tho Province), and with the Dong Son culture which dates backs nearly 2,800 years ago (artifacts found in Ca Village in Phu Tho Province and Thanh Hoa Province). In Phu Tho Province alone there are 340 temples dedicated to the Hung Kings, their wives and their generals.

Thirteen artifacts from the Hung Kings' time and many others from the post-Hung Kings' time were discovered at the Hung Kings' Temple. Artifacts from the Neolithic Age and Bronze Age, which were found scattered on the 175m-high Nghia Linh Mountain in Hy Cuong area, Lam Thao District, Phu Tho Province, reflect our ancestors’ belief in the Earth and Heaven and their agriculture based civilization.

Legend has it that after traveling to many areas, a Hung King stopped in Phong Chau area and set up the capital because of the beautiful local landscape and the sacred harmony between the mountains and rivers. The Hung Kings, the Vietnamese nation's ancestors, who established the country have become a symbol of the will and determination of the Vietnamese people to attain national independence.

The historical site of the Hung Kings' Temple consists of four temples, a pagoda and an ancestral tomb built on the top of the Hung Mountain (also called Nghia Linh or Hy Cuong Mountain). Its big arched gate shaded by age-old pines on the western foot of the mountain bears the words:

"Opening the way and building a foundation where four sides of the country converge,

Viewed from a high vantage point, a thousand leagues of mountains and hills look like hordes of children".

Looking northwards from the heaven-worshipping shrine on the Hung Mountain, visitors will see rows of big hills running southwards, which look like a herd of 99 prostrating elephants flanking the ancestors-worshiping temple as described in a legend. In the distance, the Thao River with its swift red flow in the west and the Lo River with its sluggish blue flow in the east look like two colourful silk ribbons bordering the old capital. Behind the Hung Mountain in the southeast there is the Gieng (Well) Temple which dates back to the 18th century. This temple has a well, known as the Jade Well, hence its name Gieng Temple. According to a legend, Princesses Tien Dung and Ngoc Hoa, daughters of the 18th Hung King used to look into the well as a mirror while combing and rolling their hair.

Every year a solemn festival at the Hung Kings' Temple is organised on the 10th day of Lunar month of March to commemorate the Hung Kings. After a national ceremony is held, there are rituals, singing contests (in ceremonial, folk and love songs) and typical games of the Viet (majority people) and other ethnic groups. The festival is a great event that praises the prosperity of the nation, symbolises the communal spirit and reminds the whole population to join efforts to build the country into an ever more flourishing place.

Communist Party of Vietnam - (24/01/2006)

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