Records of Lam Ty Ni Pagoda in Dalat
蓝毗尼宝塔, also known as Quan Am Tu, was founded in 1961. The decorative front gate was constructed by the pagoda’s one monk, Vien Thuc, an industrious man who learned English, French, Khmer, and Thai at Dalat University. During his 35 years here, he has built flower beds and gardens in several different styles, including a miniature Japanese garden complete with a bridge. Nearly are trellis- shaded paths decorated with hanging plants. Signs list the Chinese name of each garden. Vien Thuc also built much of the pagoda’s wooden furniture.
This is the weird pagoda of Dalat
But more than the pagoda and its gardens the attraction here is Mr Thuc and his mind boggling collection of self- brushed art works. It would be gross understatement to call him prolific. By his own estimates he has churned out more than 100,000 works of arts, thousands of which hang in and around the pagoda (even out in the rain!). So industrious is this eccentric man that he has earned himself the esteemed title of ‘the business monk’ by local motorbike guides (many of whom resent his financial success, not to mention having to wait for hours while their customers linger at the pagoda). Some say he is the wealthiest person in Dalat, and judging by the astounding number of ‘instant paintings’ he sells, you could believe it.
Mr Thuc’s legendary status has already made him the subject of much rumor and myth. We recently received one sorrowful letter to inform us of his untimely death (he got a good chuckle out of this one!). He is certainly a delightful man and provides a most unusual encounter. But he aware that the monk’s popularity has sailed to such highs that there is a steady stream of visitors and he occasionally needs to lock the pagoda gate just to have time to eat!
Lam Ty Ni Pagoda is about 500m north of the Pasteur Institute at 2 D Thien My. A visit here can easily be combined with a stop at Bao Dai Summer Palace.