4. Nirvana Vihara Historical Cultural Relic

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No. 60/7 Ha Long Street, Ward 2, Vung Tau City, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province, Viet Nam ( Chỉ đường )
0254 3856 722
Located in the midst of beautiful natural scenery with the clear blue water of Bai Dua (Pineapple Beach), and storing many wonderful things, Nirvana Vihara is a famous signt of Vung Tau that is loved by many people all over the country who wish to have a chance to visit. Nirvana Vihara Historical Cultural Relic was recognized as an Architectural-Artistic Cultural and Historical Site according to Decision No. 1987/VH-QD dated December 14th, 1989 of the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Nirvana Vihara was commenced in 1969, and completed in 1974. The massive work consists of many parts and many levels, and is located on an area of nearly 10,000m2, which takes 5 years to complete construction.

The entrance to Nirvana Vihara is wide, along the slope are bas-reliefs located on the right hand side depicting the historical scene of Shakyamuni Buddha from the time of birth to becoming a monk, turning of the dharma wheel sutra, transforming sentient beings to entering Nirvana. The main gate features four Chinese characters: Nirvana Vihara. The two gate posts are engraved with two parallel sentences:

There appearance of Nirvana helps people chant Buddha’s mind and achieve true liberation.

The Vihara’s bright light enlightens Anasvara to the Dharma and appears the Tathagata.

Inside are two tall statues of Good God (Ong Thien) and Evil God (Ong Ac) standing guard at the door. On the right side of the gate, there is a bas-relief which is 2 meters wide and 4 meters high, carved in the shape of half dragon-half horse, with dragon’s head and horse’s feet on the water waves, above is a storks dancing in the clouds. Visitors should stop at the bas-relief made by the technique of cladding pieces of white glazed porcelain painted with blue, (a technique quite popular in Vietnamese temples and tombs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), to admire the brilliant but elegant and lively patterns selected and assembled by ancient artisans.

Opposite the bas-relief and in front of the Nirvana Main Hall is a 21m high flag pillar, including 42 steps. The high flag pillar is like a branch of flowers reaching up to the blue sky, with its branches covered in red-yellow ceramic tiles and the flowers which are three branches of lotus spreading evenly in three directions. This flower branch is a unique feature of Nirvana Vihara.

After 37 steps, visitors will go to the Main Hall. After burning the incense and bowing to the Buddha; the most wonderful thing is to see the treasures of Nirvana Vihara. It is a large-sized Tu Linh (Dragon, Unicorn, Turtle, Phoenix) bronze urn decorated very skillfully and elaborately.

Certainly, no one can take their eyes off the 12 meters long statue of the Buddha entering Nirvana that stands out in the middle of the Main Hall. The Buddha statue lies on its side looking to the West, knees on its right hand, head facing the North, legs outstretched to the South, following the posture of the Buddha when entering Nirvana on the rock at Kusinara in the legend.

The Buddha peacefully entered the realm of Nirvana, which is described by the green natural scenery, the most prominent are two Nagarjuna trees full of many layers, peacocks and storks spread their wings hidden in the clouds, lions, tigers, monkeys prostrating to the pure Buddha… All are intricately embossed and carved with complementary hues, producing a stately yet lively landscape.

Behind the Main Hall is the “Abstinence Hall” of the monks. In the room, there are 34 pictures depicting the life of the Buddha, from his birth to the time when the disciples shared the Buddha sarira, as sending to the Buddha a feeling of love, full of respect…

Nirvana Vihara is positioned at various heights due to the mountain situation, so as visitors overcome each step, the scene gradually opens up to reveal numerous interesting and unanticipated sights. It is the Buddha’s shrine with three large statues of Shakyamuni Buddha sitting in meditation with a layer of golden paint mixed in the sunshine of the sea and sky, making the three statues shine brightly all over the shrine area. When you are immersed in those wonderful lights, release your soul to the Buddha’s land through the picture of Buddha sitting under the Bodhisattva tree, admiring the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue, the Bodhisattva King Kṣitigarbha statue, the statue of Master Bodhisattva; then meditate on the West followed on both sides by the Boat of Prajna bas-reliefs – Amitabha Buddha together with the saints saving sentient beings, which is very magical and lively.

Continuing along the steps, you will be delighted to suddenly set foot on a very wide ground deep into the mountain wall. This airy space is filled with sea breeze as a gift that Nirvana Vihara gives to visitors. This is where we can watch the sea and admire the white foam Bai Dua beach in the distance.

Looming behind the art pots on the yard is the Boat of Prajna, which symbolizes Buddhist wisdom, and a large stylized dragon that is decorated beautifully with the meaning of “Buddha boat for sentient beings through tribulation” (helping sentient beings to reach the shore of great wisdom).

Then, from the charming landscape of sky and sea and water that the yard is opening up, visitors can feel lost in the putuo forest, where Prince Siddharta began to wear the yellow robe of a monk, entering the ascetic life at the age of 29. The forest is meticulously detailed with flowers and leaves, birds and many statues of elephants and horses, which is very lively and  really a work of art.

Nirvana Vihara is always appealing to tourists because of its diverse, rich, and never monotonous statuary system, unlike some other temples. 3 meters high Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue in standing position, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue in a sitting position, statue of Bodhisattva King Kṣitigarbha riding a unicorn, statue of the Red Boy standing on the lotus tower, Long Nu statue, statue of Dieu holding a rosary worshiping Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara on the scene of Putuo Mount, flowing waterfalls and bamboo clusters on rocky mountains…arranged without any symmetry constraints in Buddhist scriptures, creating the feeling that these Gods and Buddhas are very close to sentient beings.

That scene of reality and myth is even more captivating when people are immersed and humming to the sound of the Great Bell. This is the most resonant bell, the best of the existing pagoda bells in Vung Tau. The bell is cast in bronze, 2.8 meters high, 3.8 meters in circumference and weighs up to 3500 kg. It is also the largest and heaviest bell in Vung Tau today.
Nirvana Vihara is one of the most gorgeous pagodas in Vung Tau facing the sea with a spacious and poetic landscape and unique modern architecture, keeping inside many Buddhist cultural values and is also a well-known scenic spot of Vung Tau that is widely loved by many people in all parts of the country who wish to once come to visit and admire.

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