The Marble Mountains

Arriving Da Nang one late evening, we checked into our hotel and what a sight it was from the 17th floor of our hotel room. The lights of Da Nang city were twinkling like stars welcoming us as we drew apart the curtains in the room. We stood and took in the views…

Lit up Da Nang city

Soon the intercom buzzed and we were invited to the room assigned to one of our co passengers on the tour. Reaching there, we were taken aback by the instantly organised dinner. A Bhelpuri (an Indian savoury snack) party had been organised with the food brought by our friends in the group and we all had a great time eating it ,singing songs and some even dancing.

A collage of the pictures taken during the dinner party

A relaxed sleep and we woke up to the invitation to visit the beach which was bang opposite the hotel. Since we had to get ready for the day, we did not join in, but we did enjoy the views of the beach from the rooms on the opposite side. Take a look…

View of Da Nang Beach from hotel

View of Lady Buddha from hotel

After breakfast we set out to explore the Marble Mountains along with our guide.

Da Nang is famous for its beaches and innumerable beach resorts dot the shoreline. As we drove past, we saw some real beautiful beaches and resorts.

The beautiful Da Nang beachfront and the numerous high end resorts that dot the beach

As we drove along, I noticed a lot of marble shops where sculptures were displayed.

I was given to understand later that at the foot of the marble mountains is Non Nuoc Village where lot of marble handicrafts are made from the last part of the 18th century. Lifeless marble blocks are chiselled painstakingly into beautiful statues full of life. Marble for this was initially taken from the marble mountains but soon it was clear that the mountains were getting depleted and then it was banned. Now marble is sourced from elsewhere.

One of the many marble sculpture shops on the route

A 20 minute drive from our hotel in Da Nang, we were at the Marble Mountains which are five craggy marble towers soaring upwards from the surrounding plains.

The Marble Mountain Pagoda from below

These five peaks are named after the five elements : water, wood, metal, earth and fire. Today it is home to a network of caves, tunnels, towers and pagodas built by Mahayana Buddhists.

Local belief is that these mountains are part of a broken dragon egg . Cham legend says that a dragon flew to the beach and laid an egg there. After some time, the egg hatched and a beautiful fairy flew out. The egg was broken into five pieces and that became the marble mountains. Whatever be the belief, it is today partly a historical treasure, partly a natural wonder and partly a spiritual place ; but all in all it is beautiful and offers great views of the city below and the beaches.

As one walks around one discovers innumerable caves of different sizes with mossy walls and the surrounding plants creating an exotic atmosphere.

Thuy Son, the Water mountain is the highest and most beautiful of the mountains. Home to 17th century pagodas and numerous caves, it is the most popular among tourists and locals who come here to worship. It is a hiking destination and offers great views of the ocean.

An elevator took us to the top of the mountain . From there the views of the famed beaches of Da Nang was beautiful.

The elevator to the top

View from the mountain top. Some of the other marble mountains seen in the backdrop

The Da Nang Beach view from the marble mountain

Our group on top of Marble Mountain

After reaching the top by elevator, we walked along the different labelled paths to see the attractions there.

The entire walking area is well paved with steps with marble railings and landscaped with bonsai and other plants like a garden.

The Landscaped Walking Paths

We walked around taking in the views and admiring the creations in marble….

The most prominent of these creations is a Pagoda tower which has seven floors and almost 200 stone Buddha statues inside. This can be seen from far away.

Besides the tower there is the 10 metre tall Buddha statue in pure white marble in meditative pose.

The Pagoda Tower Linh Ung Pagoda

The White Marble Buddha at Linh Ung Pagoda

The Marble mountains are full of caves with small openings. Many places, one has to carefully manoeuvre oneself and take care of the steep stairs too. So we did not attempt to go too much into the caves. Just visited the caves and peeped inside. Many of them are dark but beautiful carvings are seen on the rock walls. Due to the darkness, pictures were not very clear though!

Huyen Khong Buddhist Grotto

This is a grotto that has been carved into the marble mountains and a sacred place of worship for Buddhists. This is the largest cave in the marble mountains. The Buddha statue here has been carved into the mountain. Another peculiarity is the opening at the top for light to fall on the statues.

Huyen Khong Buddhist Grotto

Some of the other grottos and statues we saw are depicted in the pictures below..

A narrow cave leading into a dark abyss with carvings on the walls.

Another Buddha statue in white marble

A standing Buddha statue more pinkish in colour

An arch with a dragon and Lady Buddha inside

Walking up and down the stairs and along narrow caves in the humid climate had tired most of us out and so we headed for the bus to our next destination which was Old Town Hoi An.

See you next week at Hoi An. Till then, do subscribe, like and comment on my blog…