Cao An Phu temple is a historical relic site in King Mon district, Hai Duong province. It is well-known for its architecture and natural landscape.
The three-door gate of Cao An Phu temple (Photo: baotintuc.vn)
Cao An Phu temple was built in the 13th century to worship Tran Lieu, the father of Tran Hung Dao – a military strategist who three times defeated Mongol invaders.
The temple sits atop An Phu mountain, which is often praised for its gorgeous natural landscape.
It looks to the majestic Yen Tu mountain range in the northeast and an immense delta in the southwest.
Northwest of the temple is Kinh Chu cave, considered one of the six most beautiful caves in Vietnam, the winding Kinh Thay river.
Tran Lieu was born in 1211, the elder brother of the first King of the Tran dynasty.
He and his son Tran Hung Dao mobilized the royals and common people and kept them united against the Mongols.
In 1237, he was made king of An Phu commune and several neighboring communes and died in 1251.
Cao An Phu temple has become a popular tourist destination. Pham Huu Quan, chief manager of the relic sites in Kinh Mon district, said “The temple is 246 meters above sea level. It has undergone several restorations and now has a three-chamber front hall, a three-chamber central hall, and a rear hall. Tran Lieu’s statue, which many believe has his remains underneath, stands in the rear hall. This hall is open to the public only on Tran Lieu’s death anniversary.”
Inside the Cao An Phu complex and not far from the main temple is a statue of Tran Hung Dao looking to the east. The statue has a war manual in its right hand and a sword in its left, reminding the Vietnamese people to defend their sovereignty.
General Tran Hung Dao has become an inspiration to Vietnamese people. Manager Quan further elaborated “General Vo Nguyen Giap laid the first stone to build the Tran Hung Dao statue. The 13-meter statue is made of 65 green stones taken from Thanh Hoa province. This statue is one of the biggest in Vietnam.”
A giant ceramic embossed picture describes Vietnam’s resistance war against the Mongols. Skilled craftsmen from Binh Giang district, Hai Duong province, were recruited to assemble 265 ceramic pieces made by artists Hoang Nhan and Vu Ngoc Thach to create a picture 2.5 meters in height and 45 meters in length.
Tra My, a tourist from Lam Dong province, said “This is the first time I’ve been to this place. The natural scenery is really stunning. From the peak of the mountain, I can see enormous green fields surrounded by the Kinh Thay river. This is an attractive tourist destination with a spiritual dimension.”
The Cao An Phu temple complex was expanded through successive restorations but still has its original feudal architecture, parallel sentences, and large characters praising the natural landscape around An Phu mountain and Tran Lieu’s lasting contributions to Vietnam.