Hon Chen Temple is a sacred place of great significance in the spiritual life of the people of Hue. It is also the only temple in Hue that combines court rituals and folk beliefs in a harmonious and distinctive way.

Known for its rich historical and unique cultural space, Hon Chen Temple has attracted many adventurous visitors who come to worship and pray for peace, prosperity, good health, and wealth for their families. This happens every year during the months of March and July.

Where is Hon Chen Temple located?

Hon Chen Temple is situated on Ngoc Tran Mountain, within the territory of Ngoc Ho Village, Huong Tra Town, Thua Thien Hue Province. This temple holds a significant position in the spiritual life of the people of Hue and is also the only temple in Hue that harmoniously combines court rituals with cultural and folk beliefs.

The Historical Formation of Hon Chen Temple

Hon Chen Temple was initially constructed during the reign of King Gia Long, primarily for Daoist worship. During the Nguyen dynasty, the temple was recorded in ancient documents with its official name as “Ngoc Tran Son Tu,” meaning “temple of worship on Ngoc Tran Mountain.” In the time of King Dong Khanh (1886 – 1888), the temple’s name was changed to “Hue Nam,” signifying “bestowing grace upon the people of the southern region.” Additionally, the temple is associated with various fascinating legends and tales.

Best Time to visit Hue, Vietnam

The Interior Architecture of Hon Chen Temple in Hue

For those interested in historical architecture, Hon Chen Temple is also a unique destination thanks to its exceptional artistic decoration from the late 19th century. Here, visitors can witness ten different architectural structures positioned along the slopes of Ngoc Tran Mountain. These structures face the gentle Perfume River, surrounded and hidden behind lush green trees.

Among the ten structures, the most prominent is Minh Kinh Dai, located right in the center. On the left side, there are the Five Elements Palace, the altar of officials, the Outer Scenic Pavilion, and the temple dedicated to Mr. Tiger. On the right side, there are the Officials’ Residence, the Holy Temple, and the Trinh Cat Temple. Adjacent to the Perfume River is the Water Palace.

Minh Kinh Dai is divided into three levels, namely the First Palace (Upper Palace), the Second Palace, and the Third Palace. These sections consist of areas for worship, storing ceremonial objects, and offering incense. With its rich historical significance, the temple still preserves over 600 ritual objects of 284 different types, holding immense historical value.

Exploring Activities at Hon Chen Temple

Sightseeing and Souvenir Photography

When visiting Hon Chen Temple, the architectural and cultural-historical space here offers a unique location for tourists to freely explore and take souvenir photos.

In addition to exploring famous landmarks and scenic spots in Hue, choosing the right accommodation to indulge in the cultural atmosphere is also crucial. Distant travelers can visit Melia Vinpearl Hue to enjoy the finest amenities.

Listening to the Legend of Hon Chen Temple in Hue

One of the appealing aspects of Hon Chen Temple is the mysterious legends associated with it over the centuries. Specifically, there are three long-standing legends that have been passed down by the locals:

The Legend of Goddess Ponagar:

Many visitors wonder which deity is worshiped at Hon Chen Temple, but it has long been a place of worship for an important goddess in Cham beliefs: the Mother Goddess of the land, Ponagar. According to tradition, the goddess is the daughter of the Jade Emperor, sent down to create the earth, teach humans to cultivate flowers, plants, and especially precious aromatic trees.

Later on, Princess Lieu Hanh was also included in the temple’s worship, followed by Quan Cong, Buddha, and other divine beings. Today, Hon Chen Temple is considered a spiritual relic of the Cham people, embraced and developed by the Vietnamese as a place of worship for the Holy Mother. Here, visitors can explore the unique blend of Cham ethnic culture and the spiritual essence of the Vietnamese people.

The Legend of King Thieu Tri

Folklore also tells of King Thieu Tri building a village near Hon Chen Temple. When the king and his consort were touring the Perfume River to visit the village, one of the concubines accidentally dropped a small golden tube into the deep water.

Regretting the loss, she sought the intercession of the Holy Mother, Thien Y A Na, to retrieve the item. Initially skeptical, the king agreed to follow her request, and surprisingly, the tube floated to the surface of the water. Witnessing this sacred event, the king immediately ordered the renovation of Hon Chen Temple, but unfortunately, it was not completed before his passing.

The Legend of King Minh Mang’s Jade Bowl:

This is the most well-known and mystical legend about Hon Chen Temple. Folklore has it that the original name of the temple, “Hon Chen,” means “returning the jade bowl.” It is said that in the past, King Minh Mang accidentally dropped a jade bowl into the Perfume River while visiting the temple. Thinking it was impossible to retrieve, a large turtle suddenly emerged from the water, carrying the jade bowl in its mouth and returning it to the king.

Participating in the Hon Chen Temple Festival

Another unique aspect when mentioning Hon Chen Temple is its festival rituals. These customs reflect the religious worship, cultural, and spiritual life of the local people. This sacred place combines folk beliefs with court rituals, providing captivating cultural experiences for visitors from afar.

The festival is divided into two main parts: the procession of deities (escorting the gods to the temple) and the main ceremony:

+ The procession of deities is held grandly on the Perfume River to escort the goddess Thien Y A Na from Hon Chen Temple to Hai Cat Village. The boats in the procession are adorned with colorful flags and the vibrant atmosphere resonates with the melodious singing of folk songs, bai choi,…

+ The main ceremony takes place immediately after welcoming the deities and the Holy Mother. This ritual includes various activities such as offering respects to the Holy Mother, village rituals in Hai Cat, releasing animals, and floating lanterns and flower-shaped candles. All of these activities are imbued with the essence of traditional folk culture, greatly cherished and embraced by the visitors.

Hon Chen Temple in Hue is not only a place with unique history and architecture, but also a sacred site that carries the profound religious beliefs of the local people. When visiting here, tourists will have the opportunity to listen to the legends of Hon Chen Temple and explore the distinctive aspects of spiritual culture of the former imperial capital. We hope you will create beautiful memories in this land rich with cultural and ethnic heritage!