A relic site with the ancient legend
Tay Ho Palace is one of the most popular relic sites in Ha Noi. It is dedicated to the Thanh Mau (Mother Goodness). Especially on the first and fifteenth day of each lunar month, many pilgrims come not only to pray and show their worship but also to relax and enjoy the magic and scare landscapes in the middle of the capital city. The name “West Lake Palace” first appeared in 1573.
The West Lake Palace (Photo: vietnamnet.vn)
The story goes that, at the time, Phung Khac Khoan (1523-1616) (alias Trang Bung), a doctoral scholar and poet, who was strolling with two companions along West Lake, lured there by the beauty of the scenery. They met the female owner of a roadside inn, who delighted them by reading poems she had composed. When Phung Khac Khoan returned, some time later, he did not found any trace of the woman; even her shop had disappeared.
However, the young woman hads left him a poem introducing her-self. Phung Khac Khoan knew that she was a celestial, Lieu Hanh whose heavenly father had allowed her to stay awhile on earth. Phung Khac Khoan built a temple on that spot to honor her.
The area thrived for hundreds of years. However, in 1947, French occupation troops razed the entire Tay Ho village. Nevertheless, the local population soon rebuilt the religious complex.
Praying for good fortune (Photo: laodong.com.vn)
West Lake Palace – a great tourist complex
The most direct way to reach Phu Tay Ho is from Ba Dinh Square. Just head the North along Hung Vuong road, it will take you to the West Lake. Going along the road shaded by rows of trees and passing Tay Ho villa area, visitors will arrive at the palace which lies on the peninsular considered a golden fish-shaped ground protruding into the lake. The area is full of the aroma of lotus flowers.
From the gate, visitors will see the 3-door entrance which was built in curves, and roofs covered with tube-tiles. The panels on either side cite the legendary meeting between Phung Khac Khoan and Goodness Lieu Hạnh. There is a large-scale architecture facing two storey towers in the main hall. In the centre, it is a panel reading “Tay Ho hien tich”, which is decorated beautifully.
There are many worship objects in the relic site such as: panels, altar, royal seat, fresco, etc. All objects are beautifully and were artfully carved and decorated, bearing signs and styles of the 19th century. There are also canopies, altars and three bronze bells, a stone incense-burner, seven nominations to God Kim Ngưu (Golden Buffalo) and 50 statues of different sizes.
The century-old weeping fig - a Viet Nam Heritage Tree. (Photo: langnghevietnam.vn)
The West Lake Palace received a certificate recognizing it as a historical and cultural relic site of the Ministry of Culture (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) on February 13, 1996. In addition, in the campus of the palace, the century-old weeping fig which is recognized as Viet Nam Heritage Tree.
On the way to the palace, visitors can see many open-air restaurants selling delicious foods, such as: deep fried shrimps in flour batter, shellfish soup and vermicelli. Especially, Banh tom (crisp shrimp) around West Lake Palace – the Hanoians’ specialty dish travelers can’t miss in Ha Noi.