Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery
Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery is located outside the centre of Dalat on the road from the city centre towards Prenn Hill. The temple is near the Tuyen Lam Lake, located on Phuong Hoang.
Along the road winding up the hill to the temple, the bell tower is clearly visible from afar. The tiled roof of the pagoda is also prominent, contrasting against the pine forests that surround it. The entrance of the temple is somewhat isolated, so there is a direct entrance to the temple with 61 steps or climbing, or the person can go directly past Tuyen Lam and then climb 222 steps past the triple gated entrance to enter the main courtyard in front of the temple. The temple is located on a plot of land encompassing 24 hectares. Of the 24 hectares, there are two hectares that are occupied by buildings, divided into two areas, the domestic areas and public areas. The domestic area is closed to the public. There are two domestic quarters, for monks and nuns respectively. Each of the domestic quarters has two meeting rooms for sangha, a meditation hall, a kitchen, dining room and a shed. Currently, there are approximately 50 monks and 50 nuns in religious practice at the temple.
The public quarters are in a spacious plateau area on the grounds of the temple, at approximately 1300 m above sea level, overlooking Benhuit Mountain and the wide expanse of Tuyen Lam Lake. The public quarters was a building works undertaken under the architectural design of Ngo Viet Thu and Nguyen Tin and was opened on March 13, 1994. The public quarters consists of a ceremonial hall, flanked by the bell tower on the right and guest facilities on the left. At the front of the guest facilities lies a rose garden, and at the front slopes of the temple in front of the gate is an artificial lake with a capacity of 15,000 cubic meters. The statue in the main ceremonial hall is of Gautama Buddha seated on a lotus, flanked on either side by van Thu Su Loi, Su Loi Van and Pho Hien bodhisattvas, respectively known for their wisdom and dedication. An adjacent hall is used on the 14th and 29th of each lunar month, that is, the eve of the full moon and the new moon, the abbot holds a discussion session on meditation with meditation students, including lay Buddhists.
One of the objectives of the temple is to recreate the spirit of Zen Buddhism during the Tran Dynasty that ruled Vietnam form 1225 to 1400. The tradition practiced here was started by Emperor Tran Nhan Tong, who abdicated the throne in favor of his son Tran Anh Tong to become a Buddhist monk and founded a new tradition in Zen. He had incorporated the three sects of Zen that had come to Vietnam from China. This came after he had led royal troops in defeating Nguyen – Mong before retreating to Yen Tu mountain to begin his religious life before travelling around the country to expound the dharma.