Linh Phuoc Pagoda is located in the small town of Trai Mat, just outside Dalat in the central highlands of Vietnam. The temple was built by monks, nuns and followers of the Mahayana Buddhist sect from Thua Thien – Hue between 1949 and 1952. The pagoda became more widely known from 1990 after the abbot fully restored it and new works were built.
Every wall, ceiling, pillar, Buddha, dragon and mythical creature in the pagoda are intricately inlaid with thousands of small pieces of broken glass, porcelain, terracotta and beer bottles. These special mosaic tiles gave the pagoda the nickname, Ve Chai, which literally means “pieces of broken glass bottles”.
The main sanctuary of the pagoda is 33m long and 12m wide. In the inner hall there are two rows of columns inlaid with broken glass and pieces of terracotta with a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni made of concrete and gilded with gold stands at the back.
Visitors can climb upstairs the pagoda by means of a dragon shaped stairwell. There are beautiful mosaics telling the stories of Buddha, a bell room, a drum room and various colourful sculptures to be seen along the way.
Outside the pagoda stands a 7 storey Bell tower,that is considered the highest tower in Dalat. The Bell Tower also functions as a museum. On the first floor, there is a Great Bell (cast in 1999) considered the largest bell in Vietnam today. The bell is 4.3 metres high, 2.3m in diameter and 8.5 tons in weight.
Tourists can write their wishes on a piece of yellow paper, stick the piece of paper onto the bell and then chime the bell three times to send their prayers to Buddha. This is a sacred experience that should not be missed in the pagoda.
Next to the bell tower is an 18 meter high statue of Bodhisattva Guan Yin made from more than 600,000 “bat tu” (helichrysum bracteatum) flowers, also known as strawflowers and everlasting flowers.
A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who helps show ordinary people the path to understanding. There are bodhisattvas such as the Chinese/ Vietnamese Guan Yin or the Tibetan Tara, who represent the personification of active compassion, and Manjusri, the manifestation of wisdom. Bodhisattvas are often spiritualised beings who were disciples of the historical Buddha, but who delayed their own enlightenment, choosing to remain on earth until all beings are freed from suffering. Their power can help practitioners who know the correct way of invoking it.
To reach the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, a short train journey from the Dalat Railway Station is the best and easiest way.