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Tomb of Tu Duc (Hue, Vietnam)

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This tomb is surrounded by a 1500m wall and is located in Hue, Vietnam

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      17.03.2011 11:20
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      Attractive mausoluem complex from mid Nineteenth Century

      The Nguyen emperors of Vietnam built their mausoleums in the valley of the Perfume River, outside Hue, a former capital in Central Vietnam. These were often built whilst the emperors were alive to their personal specification and to that of their astrologers. There are seven in the region, the more attractive ones are also quite busy and a little way out of the city. You can get to them through boat tours, motorbike tours and conventional bus tours from Hue. My tour cost US$10 and included several other sites in the countryside but only one mausoleum, Tu Duc's, which is considered to be one of the more attractive ones. Not visiting any others, I cannot compare but I did think this was a lovely place. Unfortunately with my tour (booked at the café next to my hotel -Thanh Lich) the guide didn't speak a great deal of English so we were all provided with handouts giving us background info on the place, and we had about 45 minutes to wander around the site. Because we didn't have a specific guide with us I was concerned that I may miss something significant. If you have independent transport such as your own motorbike or bicycle expect to pay approx VND60,000 admission which is about US$3 or £2. It is approx 7-8km outside Hue.

      Tu Duc was one of the longest reigning Nguyen monarchs (the last ruling family prior to independence), however he was a weak ruler and tended to hide in the mausoleum's gardens and go boating on the lake. The park took only three years to build (1864-7), whilst a weak ruler he was also a tyrant and there was a workers' rebellion during the building of the park. Tu Duc had no children (suspected to be infertile due to smallpox) despite over a hundred wives and a whole village of concubines. He was an unpopular ruler due to being a bit of a bully. Plus he alienated the European nations by branding the Vietnamese Catholics, yet upset the local people by being ineffective at keeping Christian missionaries at bay, then signing over the Southern part of country to become a French colony, and allowing the rest to also be under the protection of the French in order to keep himself in power. He died in 1883, having spent most of his time pottering around in this little sanctuary.

      As you go in you follow the brick paths around the grounds, there is a lovely lake in the middle covered with lily pads and you walk to a small pavilion, it is very quiet and tranquil here and we enjoyed sitting in the cool shade of the wooden pavilion looking out onto the lake. Whilst all of Vietnam was hot and humid, this part was the worst for me. It was the hottest and most humid part of our trip. I am not sure if it is specific to this particular area or just that particular day, but it is a credit to the mausoleum that I managed to enjoy it in those conditions. As well as the pavilion there is a temple here and further round is the stele-house. It is the largest stele in Vietnam and is a large stone inscribed with the epitaph of Tu Duc. Being a bit of a megalomaniac he wrote it himself. I can't read it but apparently he did mention his failings in it. As you come up to the stele-house is a row of statues who are suppose are supposed to represent guards. Beyond the stele house are the actual tombs of Tu Duc, his head wife and an adopted son, which appear quite modest. However Tu Duc isn't actually buried in his tomb, he is buried in a secret place. The 200 people involved in the burial were all beheaded upon their return and the site remains undiscovered.

      There are shops within the mausoleum compound selling cold drinks, postcards and other tourist gifts. If you can get out here I do recommend coming to the mausoleum as it is lovely and peaceful here, out of the city. I would encourage anyone who was to come here to make sure they have a guide to get the most out of the park. I would also allow at least an hour to do the park thoroughly and that you take plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen to help you with the debilitating heat


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