Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and lies on the bank of the Red River. With a history that dates back to at least 1000 years, Hanoi is known for its huge architecturalstructureswith a lot of South Asian, Chinese and French influence. It is also famous for the numerous rivers, lakes, and mountains alongside and in the surroundings.
The HaonKiem Lake is Hanoi’s popular attraction. It is linked to the legend of a magic sword. It states that, in the 15th century, a giant turtle presented the emperor with a magic sword in order to defeat Chinese invaders. The emperor defeated the Chinese army and returned the sword to the turtle. Hence, the lake was named ‘HoanKiem’ or ‘Restored Sword’. In the middle of the lake, on an island, stands the ‘Turtle Tower’. Linked by a bridge, the lake also houses a temple (Ngoc Son Temple) that is famous for its stuffed turtle, believed to be the one mentioned in the ‘HoanKiem’ lake legend.
The Temple of Literature is an ancient complex that is both a temple and the sire of Vietnam’s oldest university. It is the temple dedicated to Confucius, a great thinker and a Chinese philosopher, and to honour other scholars of great literary accomplishment. The university was initially opened only to noblemen, but in time, it also started accepting common people. The temple is featured on the reverse side of the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum preserves and exhibits the body of Ho Chi Minh, one of the most popular leaders of Vietnam, who is known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’.
The Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, is one of the longest bridges in Asia. It was designed by theFrench architect Gustave Eiffel, the architect who designed the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
Hanoi’s Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a popular place of entertainment. The tradition of water puppetry is believed to have originated in Vietnam from the times, when paddy fields were flooded and the villagers would entertain themselves by standing in the water filled fields, with puppet performances. It is this theatre that has introduced water puppetry to other countries. The water puppetry involves performances based on daily lives of farmers, legends and general entertainment.
The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool using colourful, wooden puppets. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus, the puppets appear to be moving over the water. The entire performance is accompanied by a live orchestra.
- Hanoi had several names throughout history. Thang Long is one of them.
- Non La is the conical shaped bamboo hat worn by the locals. It is a national symbol if Vietnam.
- The ‘Aodai’ is the Vietnamese national costume.
- The Temple of Literature has many ‘Turtle Stones’, stone engravings which have a turtle as a foundation. They have inscriptions and details of exceptional scholars who graduated from the academy.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed about two months each year as the embalmed body of Uncle Hi goes to Russia for maintenance.