Thien Ton Pagoda Cave Relic Complex

Thien Ton pagoda and cave, one of the four most sacred temples in the Hoa Lu ancient capital, has a history of thousands of years associated with the ancient Hoa Lu citadel, creating a typical cultural and religious space for the region. The land gives birth to a King, gives birth to a Saint, and gives birth to a God and is located in the cultural space of Hoa Lu Four Gods (four Gods who guard the east, west, south and north).

 

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The Thien Ton pagoda and cave is one of the "Hoa Lu Four Gods" (three gods left are: Cao Son, Quy Minh, and Khong Lo), born very early, discovered in the reign of Hung Vuong, the cave worships Thien Ton, the legendary god of Hoa Lu in the 10th century. On the way of domination, Cao Bien Taoist ordered the construction of a temple to worship Tran Vu Thien Ton in order to ensure that the emperor's dragons would be distributed in this area.

 

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The Thien Ton pagoda cave relic complex is located in Dung Duong mountain area, Thien Ton town, Hoa Lu, 7km north of Ninh Binh city. "Dung Duong Son" or "Vu Duong Son" means that the mountain blocks the strong water flow from above. Three words, "Dung Duong Son" are also written under the entrance gate in the cave where they worship the saint, Tran Vu Thien Ton. Tran Vu Thien Ton or Chan Vu De Quan is the incarnation of Huyen Thien God Kim Thuyet, with the role of general commander of the heavenly army and general, sent to the earth to eliminate love and quell rebellion. This is one of four works built to protect the four bloodlines on the land of the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. They are: Thien Ton Temple in the East, Cao Son God Temple in the West, Duc Thanh Nguyen Temple in the North and Quy Minh God Temple in the South.

 

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Thien Ton is the land of "Tu Thuy Ky Son", the terrain is harmonious with mountains and rivers, and the defense is solid, so the two kings, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh, took this cave as an outpost, guarding the Hoa Lu citadel, which was the place to welcome foreign emissaries before entering the capital.

Legend has it that before sending troops to quell the rebellion of 12 warlords, Dinh Bo Linh brought offerings to the cave to offer sacrifices to the gods to help defeat the other warlords.

In 968, Dinh Bo Linh suppressed 12 warlords and established the first independent centralized feudal state in our country. After ascending the throne, Dinh Bo Linh repaired the temple, painted statues, ordained him as "An Quoc Ton Than" and built the Tien Te and Kinh Thien Dai houses to welcome foreign emissaries before meeting the King.

 

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Later, when moving the capital to Dai La, King Ly Thai To still built many large-scale architectural projects here. By the Tran and subsequent feudal dynasties, this area was given attention to construction and embellishment.

In Thien Ton cave, there are still many worshiping artifacts of cultural and historical value such as 18 arhat statues, incense altar system, stone altars with the patterns of "two dragons adoring the moon", bird images of phoenixes, flowers and leaves... are carved very elaborately and delicately. In particular, there is also a rather large bell, with four knobs, emitting four different types of sounds, dated Canh Hung (1740 - 1786).

 

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The Thien Ton pagoda and cave are also places associated with major events in the country. From the years 1930 - 1945, Thien Ton cave was the shelter of revolutionary soldiers in neighboring areas such as Nho Quan, Gia Vien, and Gia Khanh. Here, the army and people of Ninh Binh raised the flag, revolted to retake the government in Ninh Binh province from the Japanese fascists.

With unique cultural, historical, and spiritual values, in 1962, Thien Ton pagoda and cave relic complex was ranked as a national historical and spiritual relic.

Thien Ton pagoda cave festival is held on the 6th to 8th of the third lunar month every year.

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