Sapa has many ancient and sacred temples where people in Sapa and tourists come to incense, pray for Buddha and travel. Hoang Bay Temple – also known as Bao Ha Temple is a relic located on Cam mountain in Bao Ha Commune (Bao Yen, Lao Cai). It is an attractive tourist destination for many reasons. One of them is the incredible story behind the temple.
Bao Ha Temple, a national cultural and historical site, was built under Cam hillside, next to the Red River flowing into Vietnam. The temple is far from Lao Cai about 60km south, about 800m from Bao Ha train station. This is a harmony between the natural landscape and traditional culture of the Vietnamese people according to feng shui theories.
Temple of Hoang Bay the gods protecting the country, the heroes of mountainous areas to fight the enemy in the north to protect the villagers. This is the most popular tourist attraction in Bao Yen district.
According to the legend, at the end of the Canh Hung period (1740 – 1786) throughout the Quy Hoa area including Chau Thuy Vi and Chau Van Ban (now in Lao Cai) was always at risk of being conquered by the Northern enemies. In the scene of the tragedy, Nguyen Hoang Bay General was assigned by the court to regain peace in the border area. His army advanced along the Red River to expel the enemy, liberate Chau Van Ban and consolidate the construction of Bao Ha into a large base. In an unequal battle with the enemy, he bravely sacrificed, his body drifting along the Red River to Bao Ha. People in the area have picked up, buried his body and set up a temple here to remember his great merit.
From a distance, the temple is very majestic and peaceful. The natural scenery here is also very charming with the wharf and many boats, around is the vast green forest mountains. Along with the historical ruins of Pho Rang, the ancient citadel of Nghi Lang, the sacred, quiet and romantic Bao Ha temple is place making up the tourist highlights of Bao Yen region which is rich in revolutionary traditions and national cultural identity, the gateway of Lao Cai border.
The temple was built including Tam Quan gate, temple yard, guest house, Son Trang the lord castle, Cung cam, Cung Nhi, Dai Bai building, Cung Cong Dong, etc. with decoration of various statues, and simple architecture. In the main shrines of the temple are the statues of the Tran lord, Quan Tuan Trang, Hoang Dong Quan Bo Phu, Mau Nhi, Mau Thuong Ngan, Mau Thuy Tien, Thien Phuc Thien Nhan, etc.
According to feng shui theory, the temple has a very beautiful position. The gate was built in three ways (one main gate, two sub-gates). The roof gate, the main gate is 5.2 m high, 4.3 m wide. The two outside is the flower shape, the top is the two dragon facing the moon. Under the roof is the four large letters “Bao Ha linh tu” in ancient Han language, meaning ‘Sacred Bao Ha Temple’. Around the temple are the fruits trees make the temple cooler.
The main temple festival is annually held on July 17 of the lunar calendar (the day of the death of Hoang Bay General). This occasion attracts a large number of visitors in and out of the region. During the festival, there is a procession of palanquins, sacrifices, memorial incense offerings, and other cultural and sporting activities. In addition to the festive days, regular days (especially in the spring), visitors across the country often gather here to burn incense and pray for peace and luck. On the main anniversary of the Hoang Bay General death, the disciples and visitors from all around the country gather on the temple for honoring the great Vietnam hero.
Visiting Bao Ha temple is very convenient because there are many traffic roads. Visitors can go by land, waterway or rail. If you travel by train, from Hanoi, visitors will board the LC1 train from Hanoi Railway Station at 22:05 or LC3 train from Hanoi Railway Station at 06:10.
At present, the temple has been built with the charity money and state budget to make this spiritual tourist destination more complete, meeting the needs of visitors not only all around the country but also the foreigners.