If you can smell better then you can see better and can hear better. That means all your senses are working fine and you are safe and sound. To protect your senses, your family’s senses you must visit The Perfume Pagoda in Vietnam as the “Viet” does. Besides the blessings, as a bonus, we will get to see something so beautiful, so serene, so peaceful that you will never forget. This striking complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines are built into the Karst cliffs of Huong Tich Cave (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces). Among the better-known sites are Chua Thien Tru (Pagoda Leading to Heaven); Chua Giai Oan Chu (Purgatorial Pagoda), where the faithful believe deities purify souls, cure suffering and grant offspring to childless families; and Huong Tich Chu (Pagoda of the Perfumed Vestige).
This pilgrim is extremely popular with Vietnamese tourists from February to April. It is located about 60 km southwest of Hanoi; and getting here requires a journey first by road, then by the river, then on foot or by cable car. The journey is half the fun, but don’t try and do it without a guide: most tour operators offer day-return trips here from US$30 to US$50, which serves the purpose. From Hanoi you need to travel by car for two hours to My Duc. There you can go to the restroom, drink tea and buy offerings for the pilgrims as well. Then take a small boat, rowed by women from the local village, to the foot of the mountain.
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The entertaining boat trip takes an hour and travels along scenic waterways between limestone cliffs. Allow a couple more hours to climb to the top and return. The path to the summit is steep in places, and if it’s raining, the ground can get very slippery. There’s also a cable car to the summit (one way/ 100,000 – return/160,000d); a smart approach is to take the cable car up and walk down. The bus journey, an hour’s boat ride, half an hours trekking will reach you to the first pagoda. And there the history and story will take you to the era of the medieval age.
Thien Tru Pagoda:
As a popular belief, if you don’t pray here, the sky will be angry on you. Thien Tru Pagoda is also known as Heaven’s Kitchen. The starlight falls exactly on the spot where the king’s kitchen was, there the entire kingdom’s food used to be cooked.
Huong Tich Chu Pagoda:
Post pleasing the sky you can climb up more 3 storied stairs and take a ropeway ride to reach the second pagoda, Huong Tich Chu, which belongs to the lady buddha. The Cave Pagoda has the appearance of an open dragon’s mouth with Chu Nho characters carved in a wall at the mouth of the cave. Again, a breathtaking visual and mind goggling story is waiting for you, how the younger daughter of a King became the lady Buddha with thousand hands and eyes post the greatest selfless sacrifice.
On the route from Thien Tru to Huong Tich cave is Giai Oan Temple, also called ‘Clearing Unjust Charges’ Pagoda. There is a pond called Thien Nhien Thanh Tri (Natural Blue Pond), also called Long Tuyen Well, and Giai Oan stream, with its 9 sources.
Perfume Pagoda I recommend as a must if you fit to take the journey.