Kinh Mon is home to multiform rivers and mountains with woeful but majestic historical stories and areas associated with the names of many legendary Vietnamese celebrities.
Cao An Phu temple is located on the highest peak of An Phu mountain range
Apart from terrific natural landscapes, the famous scenic complex of An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong is also known for its rare historical and cultural value as the pride of Hai Duong, the Eastern land with long-standing culture.
Land of cultural heritage
The highlight of An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong relic complex is Cao An Phu temple on the highest peak of An Phu mountain range in An Sinh commune.
Legend has it that Cao An Phu temple was built in the Tran dynasty (13th century) to worship An Sinh Vuong Tran Lieu – the father of Hung Dao Great Lord Tran Quoc Tuan.
In the temple's precinct, there is Tuong Van pagoda, a worshipping place of Buddha and King Monk Tran Nhan Tong – the founder of Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen.
About 50m lower than and approximately 300m from the front of An Phu temple is a stone statue nearly 13m high depicting Hung Dao Great Lord Tran Quoc Tuan looking towards the northeastern borderland of Vietnam with one hand leaning on the tip of a sword and the other hand holding a book.
Near the statue is a 45m x 2.5m terracotta bas-relief comprising 265 ceramic pieces made by pottery and porcelain artisans in Cay village (Binh Giang) to reflect the resistance wars of Dai Viet (former name of Vietnam) army and people against Yuan invaders.
Meanwhile, Kinh Chu relic is famous for its amazing scenery.
Kinh Chu cave was classified as one of the six most beautiful caves in Vietnam. It is located on the southern slope of Duong Nham limestone mountain range (Pham Menh commune) with lanceolate rocks. Through 36 stone stairs, the deep cave appears with three large entrances.
Thanks to its very beautiful natural landscape, the cave was turned into a pagoda in the old days.
On the left side of the cave are four large characters Van Thach Thu That (Van Thach Book House), indicating a book reading place of Pham Su Manh, a mandarin well-known for his talent, righteousness, and generosity in the Tran dynasty.
Skirting a high and dangerous cliff from the main cave to Tien shrine, visitors can wallow in the nature and overlook vast villages and rivers.
At the foot of the mountain is five-entrance Ngu Nuoc cave with stalactites and limpid water dripping inside.
There are also many other unique caves like Vang, Luon, Tien Su, etc. associated with endless legendary and historical stories.
Kinh Chu is also attractive thanks to 47 unique stelae directly engraved on cliffs. Notably, there is a rectangular stele lying horizontally on the ceiling of the cave, carved on which is a poem of King Le Thanh Tong (1442 – 1497), the chief leader of Tao Dan coterie, on the occasion of his visit to this place.
Nham Duong (Duy Tan commune) is a scenic spot with grandiose mountains, uneven cliffs, and dozens of enchanting caves, such as Thanh Hoa, Tinh Niem, Chieng, Trong, Toi, etc. These caves store prehistoric objects drawing special attention of archaeologists.
In 2000, many bones of 17 faunal species, including elephant, rhino, monkey, wild boar, and especially anthropoid ape, from the Quaternary, 30,000 – 50,000 years ago, were detected in Thanh Hoa cave behind the pagoda.
In addition, a lot of prehistoric human bones dating back tens of thousands of years were found totally covered by stalactites on the cave walls.
This was the first time a site with fossil teeth was discovered in Hai Duong. To date, similar fossils have been found in only some places in the country; however, most of them are located in western and northern forests and mountains. Nham Duong is the closest place to the sea, showing an important stride of prehistoric people in the process of conquering nature.
There is also an ancient pagoda built in the Tran dynasty (1225 – 1400) in the locality. This is the birthplace of Caodong Zen and once contributed to reviving Buddhism in Vietnam.
Still preserved at the pagoda are two stone towers dating from the Le dynasty and storing the śarīra of 1st patriarch, Zen Master Thuy Nguyet and 2nd patriarch Tong Dien.
Tourism potential exploitation
Kinh Chu cave is famous for stelae carved on cliffs
Formed and developing in the long-standing cultural space of the residential community in the Northern delta, An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong complex represents the historical, cultural, and scenic value of the Northeast.
This was an important military base and a political, economic, cultural, and religious link between Thang Long capital and the East Sea and neighboring countries.
It is also associated with struggles against aggression throughout the history of the nation, such as the fights against Yuan invaders (Tran dynasty), Ming invasion (Le dynasty), French and US aggressors, etc.
An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong are also typical religious and belief relics with prominent Buddhist establishments like Tuong Van pagoda (An Phu), Duong Nham pagoda (Kinh Chu), and Nham Duong pagoda under Truc Lam and Caodong, two Buddhist schools making great contributions to the struggles for national liberation.
Together with Con Son – Kiep Bac in Chi Linh and Yen Tu and relics of the Tran dynasty in Quang Ninh, An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong complex is one of typical, special, and large cultural and Buddhist centers of Dai Viet in the Tran dynasty and the Northeast of the country in some later periods.
Besides, the complex also has special value in terms of landscape and archeology.
Around these relics are terrific natural sceneries. Nestling deep in the heart of rocky mountains are series of caves with primitive stalactites millions of years old.
The fauna is also plentiful with such species as mynah, bat, monkey, python, snake, mountain snail, etc. There are many valuable medicinal herbs that can be used as medicine.
Archaeological excavations in Nham Duong mountain caves have revealed dense rare and precious objects...
With such special value, the Prime Minister signed a decision ranking An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong complex of historical relics and scenic spots as a special national relic complex on December 22, 2016.
This is an honor and the pride of the Party, authorities, and residents of Hai Duong province in general and Kinh Mon district in particular.
To bring into play the value of the special national relic complex, in the coming time, authorities at all levels in the province will continue to pay attention to preserving and restoring the scenery and environment of these relics.
The provincial authorities will mobilize resources to prioritize investment in traffic infrastructure to form links between the relics in Kinh Mon district and the special national relic complex of Con Son – Kiep Bac to create spiritual, relic, and scenic tours; immediately work out and submit a master plan for the relic complex to competent authorities for approval.
On the basis of the master plan, constituent project groups will be approved to lay foundations for tourism development in the future and continue to honor the historical, cultural, and scenic value of the special national relic complex of An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham duong.
NGUYEN DUONG THAI
Deputy Secretary of the Hai Duong Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee, Head of the Provincial Delegation of National Assembly Deputies