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The (w)rong temple destroyed and rebuilt

With the recent spotlight of conservation in the Vietnamese news, it emerges that the 700-year-old Rong Temple was audaciously demolished in January – to be rebuilt in time for next year’s 1,000 year anniversary of Hanoi. The ctach is, it sounds like the temple was needlessly destroyed and the local authorities apparently overstated the state of deterioration of the temple. In fact, some parts of the temple was renovated and repaired as recently as last year! The picture that seems to be emerging is that many conservation works being done in Vietnam are slipshod and detrimental to the original structure.

Authorities say were misled in demolished temple controversy
Thanh Nien News, 14 April 2009

An official in the northern province of Bac Ninh says a local People’s Committee knowingly deceived higher authorities when obtaining permission for the controversial leveling of a 13th century temple.

The 700-year-old Rong (Dragon) Temple was demolished in January under the approval of Dinh Bang Ward authorities, which said the temple was dilapidated and needed to be completely rebuilt for the celebration of Thang Long-Hanoi’s 1000th anniversary next year.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thac Vinh, chairman of the Dinh Bang People’s Committee board overseeing the restoration project, said the temple was in very bad shape and reconstruction was necessary.

He said the point of the project was to restore the temple to its original form as several major changes had been made over the years.

Vinh told the Vietnam News Agency that Rong Temple had been rebuilt several times over the years, arguing that the entire five-room structure had been completely rebuilt only 30 years ago.

He said the only “ancient” things at the temple were the bricks that made up the building’s foundation.

Now, only the temple’s front gate and courtyard remain.

“We’ll also have to destroy the gate and reconstruct it in its original shape,” said Vinh.

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