Ngu Hanh Son or marble mountains, Spiritual tourism destination in Da Nang
- on Sep 26, 2019       By: BN
The city of Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city in terms of population, is renowned for its fabulous white sand beaches that stretch to infinity and perfectly emphasize the blue of the East Sea. The city is also appreciated for its incredible dynamism and the joy of living of its inhabitants who have the chance to evolve in a splendid natural setting between sea and mountains. About mountain, there is a very special group of mountains in Da Nang, surrounded by legends and is dear to the hearts of the Vietnamese: marble mountains or Ngu Hanh Son in Vietnamese.
History of the Marble Mountains
A local legend tells the genesis of this remarkable natural site: a dragon would be out of the water under the amazed eyes of a fisherman and deposited an egg on the shore. A turtle appeared, claiming to be the god Kim Quy, responsible for protecting the egg of the dragon which, hatching, broke into 5 pieces: the 5 mountains of marble. Ngu Hanh Son means in Vietnamese: the mountain of the five elements. The name was given by Emperor Gia Long of the Nguyen Dynasty, who reunited Vietnam and made Hue the new imperial capital of Vietnam. Each mountain has the following name:
- Thuy Son (Water), also called Non Nuoc, the only one that can be visited, which also is the most beautiful
- Moc Son (Wood)
- Hoa Son (Fire)
- Kim Son (Metal)
- Tho Son (Earth)
A high place of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage
Huyen Khong pagoda
The five mountains are a Mecca of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage. Many shrines, temples and pagodas carved in limestone contain statues of all kinds. Many statues were sometimes carved from the most beautiful stones to create alluring Buddha, probably dating back to the 12th century. Vietnamese people come there to make offerings and burn sticks of incense especially during Tet festivities, traditional Vietnamese new year and during Buddhist festivals.
Linh Ung Non Nuoc pagoda
A 156-step staircase leads to the summit of Thuy Son, the only accessible marble mountain that includes three rocky peaks with a layout similar to the stars of the Big Dipper. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside and the coastline and other marble mountains. There are a number of caves, including Huyen Khong whose entrance is guarded by two statues of administrative mandarins and two military mandarins and Tang Chon, as well as many Hindu and Buddhist shrines, the temples of Tam Thai, Tu Tam, the pagoda Linh Ung and Pho Dong. The sanctuaries also include statues and representations of religious scenes carved in marble.
Xa Loi pagoda
In Xa Loi Tower, there are no less than 200 Buddhas waiting for you in the 7 floors. A startling discovery is a visit to the "Cave of Hell", which contains amazing stalagmites and stalactites, as well as statues depicting a Buddhist vision of purgatory and hell illuminated by red lights.
The marble mountains during the Vietnam War
During the Vietnam War, the marble mountains were home to a Viet Cong hospital while the US Air Base was nearby, in Da Nang itself. They also overlooked the beach of China Beach which was devoted to the rest of the American soldiers who like to bathe and practice surfing.
Crafts related to the Da Nang Marble Mountains
At the foot of the marble mountains, the village of Don Hai has no less than 600 families who carve stone for statues, jewelry and works of art. The marble is good quality and the local craftsmen have such know-how that the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi was decorated with marble extracted from these mountains. But to protect these sacred mountains, it is now forbidden to extract marble from them.
How to get there?
The Marble Mountains are only 9 kilometers from downtown Da Nang and just over 20 kilometers from the charming city of Hoi An. Whether you are staying in one of the two cities or traveling from city to city, it is easy to include the visit of this remarkable and essential site during your stay in the center of Vietnam.
To access it, two possibilities are available to you:
+ Climb the 156 steps that will take you to the first part of the mountain. 40.000 VND per adult for entry.
+ Take the elevator. 55.000 VND (15.000 VND for the elevator and 40.000 VND for the entry) or 3 USD per person.
Opening hours: every day from 6h to 17h.