While seeing the various tourist spots around Ho Chi Minh city( former Saigon), I never imagined, I would land up at this Cao dai temple . I never knew , that such a religion called “Cao dai” exists , and that too this has the third highest following of people in terms of religion in Vietnam.
A 96 km luxury bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City ( former Saigon)via the Cu Chi tunnels area( underground tunnels built by Viet Cong during the Vietnam war) brought us to a place called Tay Ninh. This place was very close to the border with Cambodia. The bus stopped in front of the Cao Dai temple, the cathedral of the Cao dai religion. This unique religious construction was built from 1931-1947.Washed in pastel yellow , the temple had a façade of paintings and bas relief figures. Painting depicting Victor Hugo, Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binh, Chinese nationalist Sun Yat Sen and a single eye ( representing the heart) along with a statue of Buddha were prominent in the front face entrance. At the top of the temple, one could spot statues of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva on the back side. Inside the temple, it was all pastel colours and sky blue at top with stars , moon, pink, yellow and gold. We entered the temple after removing our shoes at prayer time. Austere, sombre, quiet, dignified. We stood in the balcony on the first floor inside the temple at prayer time (noontime). Prayers are held four times a day. The devotees were in spotless white clothes excepting some senior members of the sect. Relief of Dragons and statues of several others were depicted inside the temple. There are nine columns and nine steps to the cathedral representing nine steps to heaven.
As understood, the religion encompasses features of several religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and others. The essence of Co Dai is to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world. In terms of religious following in in Vietnam, they rank third after Buddhism and Christianity. Several Cao Dai temples exist in various Countries other than Vietnam.
It is a day ride from Ho Chi Minh City and all travel agencies arrange busses to see the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao dai temple together on a day trip.