Pagodas (Chua) and the Spiritual Spaces in Vietnam

I love places of worship. More than the spiritual angle, I love the peace and quiet they offer. In Hanoi, unless you go looking for the famous pagodas like a tourist would, you will find them discreetly located between two regular buildings, quiet as a mouse. In some of the pagodas, you can hear chanting at certain times of the day, but otherwise, you would walk right by them and not give it a second glance. Don't get me wrong, they're absolutely beautiful, but as I said, they're very discreet.

In the few Chinese historic dramas that I've watched, the places of worship - with intricately carved dragons is always a sight to behold. So finding them here in Hanoi was a good surprise. But it was to be expected, being neighbouring countries and all.

I can still recall the wind rustling in those trees and the sudden silence, both. The courtyard is lush with bonsai, well manicured plants and ofcourse, my favorite, huge trees, their foliage covering the entire courtyard. Forever in love with these wide courtyards lined with trees older than me. This one is probably my favourite photo.

I found it peculiar that coke cans were offered, very sincerely.

This is the famous Trấn Quốc Pagoda, on the west lake. It's a 11-story tower, with statues of Buddha on every level.

The foliage liteally covered the whole courtyard.

The quiet and peace I felt at these places of worship decluttered my mind. I continued walking into almost all the pagodas that I saw in Hội An as well, some empty and some crowded.

This was a communal house - Xuyen Chau Trung Communal House

It had started drizzling, and this gave the Hoi An communal house a very dramatic backdrop - not that it needed one. The intricately carved blue tiled work atop the house was beautiful.

Having grown up in India, I was impressed with this. Agarbatti, or incense sticks are fairly common in these places of worships and communal houses, lit for achieveing wishes. But I thought this arrangement was very smart, there would be no need to keep lighting one as this would burn on for a long time.

I quite liked the dragon.

A resting dragon and the rain.

This temple was on the Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Pagoda), and I found it beautiful. Beautiful because Vietnam has a rich history, some 2000 years old, and this part of the town is very well preserved. Standing on a small bridge across a small waterway, was this place of worship - some 400 years old.

This one made a discreet appearance, between restaurants and shops.

Most stores I walked into had a small space dedicated to worship, I found this oddly comforting. Hanoi isn't a mega - modern - city, so yes, I wasn't surprised to see a special space in each store with a few coke cans, biscuits and some agarbatti amidst all the other products the store sold. I like when old cultures and new coexist. In a world where we want videos to load faster, slowing down is a luxury.

This was in an art gallery in the old quarters in Hanoi.

I am fairly certain if I do go back, I'll visit these spritual places and just sit there, taking it all in, again.

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