This photo essay takes you to two Hanoi temples, Văn Miếu (the Temple of Literature) and Đền Ngọc Sơn (the Temple of the Jade Mountain), which form part of the Vietnamese capital’s rich thousand-year-old cultural heritage. You can also enjoy more of Hanoi through my images in the photo essay ‘From Hanoi with love’.
Words are by Meera Vijayann.
Catapult through a thousand years of history in Hanoi. Religion is everywhere; yet a sense of calm washes over when you step into Văn Miếu, the old Temple of Literature. Breathe deep. King Ly Thanh Tong’s serious gaze holds your wandering eye.
Deeper inside the temple, a young student offers her prayers in silence. Devotees sit in quiet corners around the courtyard, taking in the scented air and beauty. Several important temples were destroyed during war-torn times, but locals remain rooted, protecting dying traditions.
A painter skilfully practises his art as observers look on with curiosity. Calligraphy artists sketch the language of Vietnam’s Northern neighbour, reminding visitors of shared history while hoping to impress tourists and make a sale.
Dressed in ceremonial red robes and a traditional headdress, a priest talks to assembled students. Proud parents and teachers look on, listening intently. Their young have worked hard, and today’s the day to mark their efforts.
No temple is complete without a metal pot brimming with incense sticks. Visitors often light two or three as they pass, to honour their families. Tradition and age-old ties run deep in Hanoi, so simply surrender – and let the city refresh your spirits and soothe your soul.