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Timings : 8 AM to 4 PM
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Thien Vien Truc Lam, Da Lat Overview

Thien Vien Truc Lam, is among the 3 most prominent monasteries located in Vietnam. It is located in Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands, just outside the resort town of Da Lat, 5 kilometres away from the city centre. This place of worship is nestled amidst green pine forests along Tuyen Lam Lake and is perched atop Phung Hoang (Phoenix) Mountain. Other than being the largest Zen monastery of its province, Thien Vien Truc Lam is a fascinating destination to explore for locals and tourists alike.

The Thien Vien is a part of the Truc Lam Yen Tu, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhism line founded by Emperor Tran Nhan Tong, unifying three Zen lines of the 12th century and the Tran Buddhist sect. It sits majestically atop the Phuong Hoang Mountain with a bronze cast bell and many Buddha images. Cable services are provided to go up and down the mountain. 

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Architecture

Overseeing the pristine beauty of Tuyen Lam Lake, Thien Vien Truc Lam spreads over an area of total 25 hectares - 2 hectares for the monastery and other 23 hectares for residential areas and surrounding gardens. A path paved with 140 stone steps and lined by pines on both sides, leads through the garden area down to the lake. You can follow the trail and enjoy the view or even take a boat ride in the water. 

Its serene sanctum is lit up by the 2 metres high statue of Shakyamuni Buddha right in the middle. On either side of the central Buddha figure, there is Bodhisattva Manjushri. The corridor in front of the main hall has wooden pseudo-pillars, a steeple with intricate bas reliefs, and a 1.1-ton bell pot with scriptures running along its body, and a magnificent view of the Tuyen Lam Lake and the monastery reflecting on its surface. 

The monk’s quarters are open for a visit except for during the duration of prayers, and it is worth seeing how many of them flock from different corners of the country to be educated in the principles of Zen Buddhism. There is a residential quarter for nuns as well, but that off-limits for the visitors. 

History

Construction of the monastery was initiated in 1993 and it was completed within one year. A trinity of architects participated in the designing and construction of the site - Vu Xuan Hung, Tran Duc Loc and Ngo Viet Thu, who also happens to be the head behind the magnificent architecture of Reunification Palace, formerly Independence Palace, in Ho Chi Minh City. 

How To Reach Thien Vien Truc Lam

The monastery is best reached by gondola cable cars that leave from Robin Hill and glides along with the wirings for 2.6km to Phoenix summit, where Thien Vien Truc Lam is located. The ride offers incredible views of the mountains and the green pines that line their slopes. A two-way ticket is a sensible purchase for the ride and it costs 70,000 VND for adults and 40,000 VND for children. It can also be reached by cabs or hired vehicles, but a cable car ride is infinitely more exciting. 

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