About 25 km from Dong Hoi city to the Southwest, there is a mountain named Than Dinh (Thần Đinh). This is a mountain with legends from the past.
One of legends is the story of the bronze bell of Qianlong Emperor ( one of Emperors of Qing Dynasty -China) which was offered to the Pagoda for his past life.
Than Dinh mountain lies at an altitude of 405m over sea level and takes about 40 minutes to climb over 1260 stone steps up to the Non Pagoda (other name is Kim Phong). Non Pagoda was built in 1701, then from the chaos caused by the war between the Trinh – Nguyen, was damaged and ruins as today.
On the Than Dinh mountain
A Monk named An Kha cultivated in this Pagosa (Kim Phong Pagoda) from 1694 (Le Huy Tong King, at the same time of Kangxi Emperor, Qing Dynasty in China), he is a Buddhist monks in the love. Before his passing (death), He cut a little finger into the casket to give back to the Pagoda, and had final say: “Previous life died in Than Dinh Pagoda, nest life reborn QianLong”. Strangely finger did not rot, fresh forever.
In the legend, 20 to 25 years later, He reincarnated into a family in China and reborn in the shape of Qianlong (1736-1796) (Legend of the Qianlong Emperor also missing a little finger).
Emperor Qianlong hunches that he had a past life with the small Pagoda on the mountain Than Dinh in Dai Viet ( A name of Vietnam in the past), so He sent a bronze bell to Non Pagoda, the bell is engraved with the words “Than Dinh Bell” in Chinese characters.
The Boat carrying the bell arrived in Nhat Le river, unfortunate was engulfed in a storm . Later, a fisherman in Bo Trach district named Dang Van Tien, caught the bell in the river and bring offerings to the Non Pagoda on Than Dinh Mt. No one knows exactly the legendary about the bronze bell of QianLong is true or not. Some people believe that the bell of the legend story now is hanging at Pho Minh Pagoda (in Dong Hoi City). The bell in Pho Minh pagoda today is real, but is associated with legends or not, no one has confirmed
The bell in Pho Minh Pagoda, Dong Hoi city today
Nowsaday, there exists a stone tablet which was established in the 11th Minh Mang King (1830 ) notes about the Pagoda. In front of the Pagoda, there is a clear water well, cool fresh, never shallow, named Tien (Fair) well. Tien well located between four stone surface,dry place, but the wells is always full even in the driest year hot .