12/12/2021 00:01 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

The melodious Shell pagoda

Located in Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa province, Tu Van pagoda, also known as Shell pagoda, immediately gives tourists the presence of peace and equanimity on arriving. It’s thanks to the sound of scriptures and bells amplified through millions of seashells decorated around the Bao Tich tower.
Shell pagoda was built in 1968 by the two monks, Thich Duc Minh and Thich Hanh Minh. For a unique masterpiece like Bao Tich tower, it took many more monks 5 years since 1995 to complete the task. 

According to Venerable Thich Duc Minh, back in 1995, the Cam Ranh sea had much coral with clam and snail shells which drifted everywhere. The monks thought the material was meant to be used. In the spring of 1995, Shell pagoda had a groundbreaking ceremony for Bao Tich tower. Monk Thich Duc Minh, knowledgeable in construction techniques, was assigned the task as the general commander. There were 12 monks and novices who daily took turns carrying stones, mixing mortar, using the pulley and building the tower. It took them nearly 5 years to complete the tower. All was done by hand, without the support of any specialized machines or equipment.


Around Bao Tich tower, there are 49 pyramidal sub-towers. At the top of each sub-tower, there is a small stupa. In each stupa, there are statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP


The decorative patterns inside Bao Tich tower are all created from seashells. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP


The second floor of Bao Tich tower is the place to worship Buddha. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP




The bed of Bao Tich tower is a concentric circle with 8 gates representing the large open roads leading to Nirvana. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP


The ceiling of Bao Tich tower is designed in many patterns of seashells associated with Buddhist culture. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP


Corals at the Shell pagoda. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP


At the Shell Pagoda there is also a pair of dragons exquisitely decorated with seashells. Photo: Nguyen Luan / VNP

“It was my destiny, that Buddha led me from the mountains to the sea. Many people do not believe that the bare hands of our monks could successfully build the tower. But we bear in mind one thought that the stupa represents the Buddha's dharmakaya. Building a stupa is a super powerful way to purify negativity, overcome obstacles and accumulate merit," said Venerable Thich Duc Minh.

According to Venerable Thich Duc Minh, the bed of Bao Tich tower is a concentric circle with 8 gates representing the large open roads leading to Nirvana. Cultivated ones always strive to understand and maintain the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration to achieve enlightenment and liberation along the path led by Buddha.


A "treasure for adventurous travelers" is how Tu Van pagoda including Bao Tich tower characterized by travel site Culture Trip (UK).
“We want to convey a deep meaning to everyone that even senseless objects that are a waste of life can also make a beautiful and impressive work, as long as people have the diligence and perseverance needed. Moreover, in harmony with the chanting of Buddhist scriptures, the sound from those shell’s holiness create a space of calmness and relaxation for people," said Venerable Thich Duc Minh.

Not only is it one of the unique and creative architectural works, Tu Van pagoda or Shell pagoda is now one of the attractive destinations not to be missed in Cam Ranh. Several tours to Khanh Hoa province in particular and the central part of Vietnam, in general, have already marked it as a spiritual tourist destination.


By Nguyen Luan
Translated by Hong Hanh