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Viet Nam seeks UNESCO's recognition of three landscapes as heritage sites (January 23, 2004)

Ha Noi, Jan. 20 (VNA) - Viet Nam has prepared documents to submit to the UNESCO's world heritage committee for its recognition of three more landscapes as world's cultural and natural heritage sites.

One of them is Huong Son landscape which consists of Huong Pagoda and Huong Tich cave. It is situated in Huong Son commune, My Duc disrict, Ha Tay province, almost 70km northwest of Ha Noi.

Huong Son is a mountainous region with winding rivers and mountains. Pagodas and temples were built on mountain-slopes, and in grottoes, the central one being Huong Tich cave-pagoda.

Huong Tich cave is considered as the most picturesque in Viet Nam. It is located deep inside a mountain, 120 steps from the cave entrance. The stone wall at the cave entrance was inscribed with the words "Nam Thien De Nhat Dong" (the first-class pagoda under the Southern sky) in 1770. The cave is large with stalagmites and stalactites inside. On the higher altar is the statue Goddess of Mercy (Quan Am) made of stone in 1793. On her hand is a pearl, her left leg is on a lotus flower and her right leg is on a lotus leaf. There is a bronze bell, 1.24m high, made in 1655.

Ba Be (Three Bays) is itself actually three smaller lakes joined together - Pe Lam, Pe Lu and Pe Leng - with a total length of 9km and a width of approximately 600m. For the inhabitants in this mountainous area, Ba Be is considered their sea.

Ba Be lake lies in the middle of a vast limestone mountain range of Ba Be district, in Bac Can province, 200km north-west of Ha Noi - dubbed a "precious jade of Viet Nam" and one of 500 lakes recognised as worthy of attention. Ba Be lake area has a lot to offer, including waterfalls, rivers, valleys, lakes, and caves, all set amidst picturesque landscapes. The climate there is cool with an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. The lake is surrounded by primitive forests, home to 462 animal species, including wild pigs, bears, panthers, monkeys and birds, and 620 flora species. The lake, which is 145m above sea level and surrounded by steep mountains up to 1,754m high, is believed to have been formed 200 million years ago.

Another interesting site is the ancient stone ground in Sa Pa tourist town, the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai province. Covering 8 sq.km, around 200 stones of different sizes and shapes cover the site. Western scholars discovered different drawings, decors and ancient scripts on these stones in 1926 and now Viet Nam's archaeologists are studying them.

Earlier, Phong Nha-Ke Bang was named as a world heritage site by UNESCO. This is the fifth of its kind in Viet Nam following Ha Long Bay, Hoi An ancient town and My Son relic site.

They are on a list of 180 specially important relics and landscapes submitted to the Government by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Viet Nam now has 51 museums displaying 87,515 exhibits. More than 608,886 objects and 922 collections have been inventoried.

To preserve scenic and historical relic sites, the government has launched a national programme on preventing degradation and upgrading historical and cultural relic sites. The programme is aimed at restoring and maintaining revolutionary and war resistance bases, upgrading historical and architectural relic sites to attract tourists.

As a result, more than 600 relic sites have since 1994 been rehabilitated and upgraded while 12 museum storehouses have been provided with equipment.

Apart from allocations from the State budget, between 5-7 million USD as foreign aid will be invested in preserving historical sites, fine arts museums and craft villages, building tourism villages, and preparing for the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi by 2010.-Enditem

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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