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Van Thuy Tu Temple

Phan Chu Trinh, Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan, Vietnam

Van Thuy Tu Temple is one of the oldest relics in Binh Thuan province with the ancient beauty and majestic architecture. It is home to store Vietnam and South East Asia's largest whale skeleton annually attracting the great number of tourists.

Van Thuy Tu Temple is the oldest temple in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan, which has nearly 236 years of age so far. As one of the spiritual tourist attractions in Binh Thuan, Van Thuy Tu Temple is located on Ngu Ong (Whale) street, Phan Thiet town. The biggest difference of Van Thuy Tu Temple compared to other temples in Binh Thuan is that the temple worships God Nam Hai and the presence of the God is hundreds of whale skeletons had stored a long time by fishermen. There is an enormous skeleton which has been most interested in preserving dating back nearly 200 years.

 

Altar at Van Thuy Tu Temple

 

Van Thuy Tu Temple - Phan Thiet began its construction in 1762. It was previously located close to the sea overlooking eastward. Its architecture was relatively simple and small like almost other Binh Thuan temples, yet the temple retained numerous differences inside. In the middle of the altar is the statue of God Nam Hai, then "Thuy long thanh phi" (Lady conquering the sea) on the left and "Thai hieu tien su" (Ancestors) on the right. There is a shrine worshiping Quan Thanh near the sanctum and the room storing and preserving about 600 sets of remains of the whale behind the altar - the sea god blessing and saving lives of fishermen under the intellection of the locals. This collection has always attracted tourists to ascertain about in Phan Thiet travel to the temple.

Thanks to its unique characteristics, Van Thuy Tu Temple Phan Thiet is famous throughout nationwide and abroad, which has always been one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Phan Thiet alluring a large number of tourists. The temple is now home to numerous ordain edicts from Kings of Nguyen Dynasty, ten of which belongs to Emperor Thieu Tri and the rest are under other Emperors, namely Tu Duc, Dong Khanh, Duy Tan, Khai Dinh.They has been intactly preserved for 150 years. There is also bronze bell casted in 1872, which has been intact in value.

 

The largest whale skeleton at Van Thuy Tu Temple

 

According to the beliefs of the coastal people, whale is one of the sacred animals. The fishermen in Van Thuy Tu also pick up 6 to 7 whales on the shore and the sea annually. After detecting any dead whales, the fishermen take it into the shore and buried in Ngoc Lan sanctuary. Ngoc Lan is the cemetery burying the dead whales before their skeletons being washed and taken to worship 3 years thereafter in Van Thuy Tu Temple. It is a plot of land with the fence surrounding in the front of the temple's yard. There is a small shrine inside to light the incenses and many kinds of flowers planted among 24 land graves. Van Thuy Tu Temple is the place burying and preserving hundreds of whale’s skeletons over hundreds of years. The is the largest skeleton 18m long dating back almost 120 years, i.e. the Vietnam and South East Asia's longest gray back whale with the size and weight respectively of about 22m and 65 tons when alive. It has been preserved almost intactly. The second largest skeleton retains 14m long, which has been preserved since 1953. Van Thuy Tu Temple is thus also one of the impressive highlights of Phan Thiet – Mui Ne travel.

 

Inside Van Thuy Tu Temple

 

In particular, Van Thuy Tu Temple hosts 5 days of the rituals on the lunar calendar as follows: Spring Rituals on 20th February on lunar calendar, Ritual praying for fishermen on 20th April on lunar calendar, Ritual welcoming main season 20th June on lunar calendar, Ritual on 20th July on lunar calendar and Ritual of death anniversary on 23rd August on lunar calendar. There are also many exciting activities during the anniversary such as "tuong" (classical traditional Vietnamese opera) and boat racing... These traditional cultural features have always been stored and existed so far demonstrating the important role of whales in the spiritual beliefs of the locals here. It is unique cultural characteristics that contribute to bring Van Thuy Tu Temple to become one of significant spiritual tourist Phan Thiet attractions.

 

Entrance into Van Thuy Tu Temple

 

Van Thuy Tu Temple was ranked national-level historical relics in 1996. In 2003, thanks to the support of Oceanographic Institute - Nha Trang, the massive skeletons in Van Thuy Tu Temple was restored and served tourists in the galleries of the temple. These two events significantly contribute the values of coastal cultural and religious address. The temple now is always open for tourists to visit and ascertain folklore beliefs as well as beliefs of fishermen here who are inherently peaceful and hospitable. Van Thuy Tu Temple is worth an impressive spiritual tourist site attracting tourists to Phan Thiet tourism and Binh Thuan tourism as well.

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