Thai Vi temple is located in a big valley of Van Lam hamlet, Ninh Hai Commune. The Van Lam villagers had built Thai Vi temple to remember the Kings of Tran Dynasty for the establishment of Vu Lam Royal step-over in 1258 after the kings passed away.
The temple was built by King Tran Thai Tong in 1258 after the first and glorious victory over the invading Chinese forces. Historical records state that the king, who was 41 years old after the victory handed power over to his son and went to a small town located in today’s Ninh Hai commune, Ninh Binh Province.
He stopped at the small town at the foot of a mountain, viewing the Ngo Dong River and built a small temple in Van Lam cave. The temple worshipped Buddha and three saints. The king meditated daily and helped villagers build a prosperous life. The temple was featured during the second battle against Chinese invaders in 1285.
The temple has undergone much reconstruction and the latest was in 2006, carried out by a Buddhist living in Hanoi. It worships King Tran Thai Tong, his wife, and son. Until now it has attracted thousands of tourists every month. The number of visitors doubles when local people organize the Thai Vi temple festival from March 14 to 17 from the lunar calendar.
The temple was built in “Noi Cong Ngoai Quoc” 国 (Internal attack with outside support) style. There are 3 houses of Bai Duong, Trung Duong and Chinh Tam (Main Bedroom), all of them were made of ironwood and monolithic blue stone pillars that were skilfully and artistically carved. Out side the temple, there are Ngu Mon (Five arches) that were made of stone pillars. In front of the temple, there is an ancient well called Ngoc Well made of green stone with clear and full water all year round. Sanctum is the place for worshipping the Kings of Tran Dynasties and the statue of Queen Thuan Thien, with her handsome boys and beautiful girls valeting. Moreover, the temple has many ancient works that have cultural and historical value, such as the temple arch, stone horse, bell-tower and especially a row of monolithic stone pillars in the temple.
The festival is organized annually on the 14th – 17th of March of the lunar calendar. It has the purpose of commemorating Tran King, who was a credit to the nation. The worshiping part is carried out in two ways, namely the procession and the sacrifice. The procession is performed by over 30 teams coming from communes in Hoa Lu district and other within the province. After the procession, sacrifice is implemented. Sacrifice is an important ceremonial hold in front of the temple.
The entertainment is a jolly time for villagers and festival participants as it includes Kylin dancing and the dragon dance, playing human chess, wrestling, rowing….
The temple has long been well-known not only as a cultural historical relic but also an evidence of stone carving art of Ninh Binh sculptors.