Hon Chen Palace
Hon Chen Palace is located on the slopes of Ngoc Tran mountain, 10km upstream from the center of Hue. The name “Ngoc Tran” means jade bowl, derived from the mountain’s upside-down bowl. That is what gave the temple the name: Hon Chen.
Aerial view of Hon Chen Temple Festival on the Perfume River, Hue
However, others claim that this temple was originally called “Hoan Chen” (Returning the bowl). Legend has it that a turtle returned the jade bowl that King Minh Mang dropped into the river when he visited the temple. Later, it was renamed Hue Nam Temple (the temple worshiping the king of Vietnam) by Emperor Dong Khanh. This represents the help of Holy Mother Thien YA Na before Dong Khanh’s coronation.
A temple with many legends
Hon Chen Temple was originally built to honor Po Nagar, the Goddess of the ancient Cham people. After that, the tradition was continued by the Kinh people. According to the legend of the Cham people, the god is said to have created the land, nature and taught people the art of planting trees. This is part of a popular and mysterious goddess worship in Vietnam, known as “Dao Mau”.
This goddess temple appeared many centuries ago, but with a very simple design. It was not until 1832 that King Minh Mang ordered the restoration of the temple on a large scale. The main hall is Minh Kinh Dai, where hundreds of gods, saints and buddhas are worshiped. Heavenly Mother YA Na and Princess Lieu Hanh were in the hall, along with other superior gods.
Hon Chen’s architecture attracts attention when using the image of a phoenix as a decoration, because this is a symbol of femininity in Eastern culture.
Hon Chen Temple is famous not only for its beautiful location but also for the folk festival worshiping Mother Thien YA Na which takes place every year in the 3rd and 7th lunar month as mentioned in the folk song:
“July to worship Father, March to worship Mother”.
Hon Chen Electric Festival – Photo: @visithuevietnam
Such ceremonies are always very solemn. The clouds of incense smoke and shimmering candlelight create a sacred atmosphere in a romantic and loving natural framework. It is celebrated not only in temples but mainly on boats, specially decorated with worship accessories, flags and banners. The ceremony takes place at night, with traditional music called “chau van” playing and with a long line of boats strung together into larger rafts called “bangs”. At that time, the river becomes busier and more colorful, with hundreds of palanquins rowing upstream throughout the day.
Visitors should travel there by boat, because the scenery here is extremely amazing. It would be a great opportunity to visit Hon Chen Palace on special occasions, as it has a unique traditional religious festival. It is said that the festival is not only for the followers of “Mother Mother” but also to honor and remember her. Such a meaningful blend of religion and belief!
Location: Hon Chen Palace, Hue
Best for: All Visitors
Entrance: N / A
Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Distance to city center: 5.5km (3.4 mi)