Yen Tu: A holy and sacred land
  • | | February 05, 2010 03:03 PM

The mountainous region of Yen Tu in Uong Bi District, Quang Ninh Province is a place where Vietnamese King Tran Nhan Tong abdicated his throne to practise a life of religion 700 years ago. Nhan Tong, Phap Loa and Huyen Quang became the founders of Truc Lam Yen Tu (The Bamboo Forest) Zen Buddhist sect. Sacred Yen Tu Mountain is the relic land of Vietnamese Buddhism.

Recently, the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh officially approved a project to construct roads and a service sytem along the way to Yen Tu, funded by ATS Investment Joint Stock Company (ATS). For the occasion of up-coming Yen Tu Festival 2010, DTiNews spoke with Nguyen Thi Thoa (pictured), Manager of ATS, about a project to bring ancient Yen Tu into the future:

Why did ATS want to invest in a large scale project in Yen Tu?

We already knew that Quang Ninh is famous for Ha Long bay, a natural and magical place. When I was living in Hanoi, I practised my religion at Phuc Khanh Pagoda and went with other Buddhist followers to Yen Tu. I have learned many things about it through lectures from a Master of Buddhism, the venerable Thich Thanh Quyet, about King Tran Tran Tong and Truc Lam Yen Tu (Bamboo Forest) Zen Buddhist sect. I learned that Yen Tu is a holy land, a cultural and religious relic of Vietnam which is unique and uncomparable. I think it’s a destiny when we chose it as an investment destination.

Yen Tu becomes over-crowded only during its festival season but there are very few people who visit it during the year. Part of that reason is that there are some disadvantages in terms of services, accommodations, infrastructure, environment and scenary spots.

What can we do to deal with the disadvantages of Yen Tu? I asked myself this question many times. Then I came up with an idea to develop a Hanoi-Yen Tu-Ha Long tourism route. I presented the idea to the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh Province, and told them that I would manage by myself to raise money and build up a project to realise my vision for Yen Tu. Fortunately, they liked the idea and approved my proposal.

It will take my full responsibility and sincerity to carry out the project in Yen Tu which will build our national pride. I think the investment needs to be high, it needs to be equivalent to the richness of the culture and tradition here, which you can't put a price on.

Could you disclose some initial details on the planning and implementation of the project?

Honestly speaking, it’s very challenging for us to carry out design concepts and planning although we understand very well its value and have a passion for it. With our determination and efforts, we set a goal that we will respect and preserve its cultural and historic relics.

Its features of primitiveness, mistery and religious spirit are immeasurable. It’s necessary to protect the environment, culture and primary forest in Yen Tu.

In particular, we have made a lot of efforts to localise the project scale in order not to touch any sacred or holy areas. We have consulted with leaders from government bodies, experts, scientists and monks from the Vietnamese Buddhist Association to get a consensus opinion. We have also extensively researched its development history.

We are committed not to violate any special spiritual lands.

Could you give us some examples?

Take a look at the Ha Kieu slope (It is a sloping lane where kings always walked by foot, not being carried in a palanquin which is a throne-like seat raised into the air and carried upon shoulders).. Why did they do that? Is that a spiritual land?

Why was Yen Tu divided into 3 areas? A lot of questions are about geography, astronomy, history, boundaries, the king, Buddhism, existing infrastructure, roads and so on. These all have to be considered with the help of many researchers, historical and spiritual, feng shui experts, fine arts masters, archaeologistsjournalists, monks and local authorities as well as local people. Our company’s purpose is to enhance its intangible value.

What are your implementation strategy as well as the challenges and advantages of this project?

The first challenge was planning. We had to develop the concept, determine the investment costs, make a proposal and now we have to execute. The second challenge is to get a consensus in terms of ideas and visions between regulators, policy makers and investors.

As for this investment, we have always respected its cultural value, the environment, and the various scenary spots. We want to maintain it as the capital of Buddhism and develop Buddhism cultural services, religious tourism, and also to honour the culture of the Tran dynasty in-particular and Vietnam in general. I believe the project will meet the demands of pilgrims and visitors while respecting Vietnamese tradition and customs.

Referring to our implementation strategy, we are trying to combine Buddhism and Tran dynasty culture, folk Buddhism and spiritual Buddhism culture, and of course, local culture. We also mix cultural, commercial, historical and art features together. Traditional architecture is in harmony with its natural environment.

We have invited VICC, our design consultant from the Ministry of Construction and others from Australia, Italy, and China to work together on the project and to present their idea's to the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh Province. We also provided them with a planning map.

It was our pleasure when local authorities praised us with a lot of support during the time we were setting up the project.

With its historical and cultural values, Yen Tu requires a huge investment. It will become a spiritual and cultural-tourism economic zone, thus, the planning is totally different compared to a urban construction area, especially in terms of deployment purposes and materials. Most importantly, Yen Tu must meet comprehensive demands to lure more visitors.

1 | 2 Next page