Guidebook Bach Ma Temple

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Bach Ma Temple

Dating from the 11th century, Bach Ma is said to be the oldest temple in Hanoi, explains Journey Vietnam. The temple honors a white horse “which was thought to be an incarnation of a local river god.” The horse purportedly guided the founder of the Ly dynasty, King Ly Thai To, using its hoof prints, to indicate a safe area to construct the citadel in the year 1010 (though the current structure, located in the heart of the Old Quarter, dates from the early 1800s).    

It’s a “rather humble affair” that’s “disproportionately popular with tourists,” says Hanoi for 91 Days. “If you’re only going to visit one temple in Hanoi, chances are it’ll be Bach Ma, simply because it’s so convenient.” The result is that locals who come in to worship are “clearly fed up with the constant stream of foreigners, and aren’t exactly the friendliest.” And rather than “gilded statues or the intricate woodcarvings,” what draws most attention in Bach Ma are “cartons of industrialized sweets which people leave for their deities … chocolate pies and butter cookies seem especially popular, not just here, but at every temple around the country.”

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