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Trinh Phong temple

Phu An Nam 4 village, Dien An commune, Dien Khanh district

  • ID: 230826164800
  • National monuments

Trinh Phong Temple is located in the middle of Phu An Nam 4 hamlet, Dien An commune, Dien Khanh district. From Nha Trang city, follow the 23/10 road up to the Dien Khanh Citadel intersection. The Temple is next to a big double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree – a famous place related to history, poetry, sentiment of people in Dien Khanh, Khanh Hoa. 

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Trinh Phong was born in Phu Vinh village, Xuong Ha canton, Vinh Xuong district [1]. When he was a child, he was intelligent and well-educated. In 1864, he passed the Bachelor of Martial Arts and was promoted to Admiral by the Nguyen Dynasty, taking office in Quang Nam.

In 1858, the French colonialists invaded our country in Da Nang. After that, they captured the six provinces in the south part and had the ambition to take over the land under the management of the Nguyen Dynasty. Before the invasion plot of the French colonialists, the Nguyen court was divided into two factions including the warring faction and the peace faction, he resigned from the government, returned to his homeland to ignite his will, waiting for the opportunity to expel the aggressive army.

After the Treaty of Patenôtre in 1884, Khanh Hoa was a province under the management of the Nguyen court. In 1885, King Ham Nghi ascended the throne. He was a patriotic young king, supported by Ton That Thuyet. In 1885, the counter-attack in Hue Citadel led by Ton That Thuyet opened fire against the French. Despite unsuccessfulness, Ton That Thuyet brought King Ham Nghi to Quang Tri, prepared for a long resistance war, and issued Can Vuong proclamation to call on the people of the country to stand up and help the King save the country.

In Khanh Hoa, the patriotic struggle against the French under the leadership of Trinh Phong took place actively and wisely. Trinh Phong and Mr. Le Nghi, Tran Duong, Nguyen Khanh, Pham Chanh, Nguyen Di, Nguyen Luong, Nguyen Sum, Pham Long, Baccalaureate Nguyen Trung Muu stood up to establish “Binh Tay saving-country union” with the slogan: “Tiểu tặc trừ gian bình quốc loạn; Hưng binh ứng nghĩa phục giang san” (destroy enemy to pacify the rebellion; call people to be soldiers to take the country back) , calling on the people to join the insurgent army, contribute food, train soldiers, forge weapons to be ready to fight against the invading French colonialists.

Thanks to his virtue and intelligence, Trinh Phong was honored by the insurgent army and the people as a General of Binh Tay, the leader of the insurgent army. In the process of force building, militarily Trinh Phong divided Khanh Hoa into two subdivisions: the North subdivision was commanded by Tran Duong, and the South subdivision was directly commanded by Le Nghi and him. Based on the terrain bordered by the sea and divided by mountains, creating a dangerous position, Trinh Phong set up a defense system along the coast in Nha Trang, Ro Tuong, Hon Khoi, Tu Bong, ready to repel the attacks of French troops from the sea. Faced with the momentum of the insurgent army, especially the prestige of Trinh Phong and other leaders, the insurgent army was growing stronger; the top mandarins in the province who were stationed in Dien Khanh Citadel took the initiative to hand over the citadel and the right of the army to the insurgents. Dien Khanh Citadel became the headquarters of the insurgent army. The Can Vuong movement in Khanh Hoa was actively supported by all classes of people, especially in terms of food, and mobilizing young people to join the insurgency.


In August 1885, the French army landed at the mouth of Cu Huan River (Nha Trang), Trinh Phong assigned Dien Khanh Citadel to Le Nghi to keep, he directly commanded the insurgent army to intercept the French at the mouth of Cu Huan River, Hon Thom, Hon Da Lo ... Thanks to the careful preparation and familiarity with the terrain, and with the people’s wholehearted support and protection, the insurgent army cleverly lured the enemy deep into the mainland and then carried out guerrilla warfare, dividing, dispersing the force, causing a lot of damage for them.

With the ingenuity and bravery, the insurgent army defeated the enemy’s plot of “fight quickly and win quickly”. During the first time, the insurgent army preserved its forces, successively defeated in places: Ba Ha (Hon Khoi - Ninh Hoa), successfully relieved the siege of Dien Khanh citadel after 21 days and nights of holding on to the citadel, forcing the withdrawal of the only garrison of the French at Hon Khoi.

In December 1885, the Can Vuong Khanh Hoa insurgent army coordinated with the insurgents of the South Central provinces to recapture Dien Khanh Citadel and dominate most of Khanh Hoa province. According to the report of the French envoy Aymonier sent to the Governor of Cochinchina “ Khanh Hoa, there were rebel mandarins who had mastered the whole province and were gathering the people into armies to protect the villages and maintain order …”

After many times of organizing attacks and occupations with heavy defeats, the French army made strategic adjustments. In mid-1886, the enemy increased aid from Gia Dinh (currently known as Sai Gon), concentrated their forces to attack and retake Khanh Hoa province, and at the same time tried to terrorize the insurgents’ families, especially the families of the leaders of the movement. They used espionage, counterintelligence, tried to bribe and divide the insurgent army, and used country-selling Vietnamese to lead the way to suppress the people and to isolate the insurgent army from the people. After thoroughly knowing the terrain and with a great advantage in weapons and tactics, the French launched many big attacks. They frantically slaughtered the insurgents, drowned the movement in a bloodbath and captured a number of important positions, including Dien Khanh Citadel.

Before the enemy’s strength, Trinh Phong withdrew his troops to the North of Khanh Hoa, joined forces of Tran Duong, Pham Chanh, Nguyen Sum, and Pham Long to set up a defense line to hold the Hon Khoi estuary, build a base in Thung Nha Bui, Hon Heo. When the French army captured Hon Khoi, the insurgents withdrew to the base to organize defense.

Although the insurgents still fought hard, causing them some losses, before the enemy’s military strengths, the insurgent’s struggle movement was increasingly weakened. Movement leaders such as Trinh Phong, Tran Duong, Nguyen Khanh, Pham Chanh, Pham Long, Nguyen Sum were killed by the enemy; hundreds of generals and insurgents were imprisoned by the enemy.

The Can Vuong movement in Khanh Hoa was extinguished, but the brave and indomitable fighting spirit left in the hearts of the people of Khanh Hoa a particularly deep affection. The people respected the three leaders of the Can Vuong movement in Khanh Hoa Trinh Phong, Tran Duong, Nguyen Khanh and hnoured them as “Khanh Hoa’s three heros”.

* History of relic formation:

The temple was built in 1886, associated with a folk tale as follows: It is said that, when Binh Tay General Trinh Phong lost the battle, he was killed by the enemy, beheaded in Ninh Hoa and then they gave his head to Khanh Hoa mandarins in Dien Khanh Citadel to hang his head on Song Can bridge (currently known as Tran Quy Cap bridge) to show their prestige and deter the people. At that time, a woman named Trinh Thi Xuyen[2] secretly brought his head back to his hometown in Phu Vinh village to bury it. On the way, Ms. Xuyen was followed. Fearing that the enemy would discover her, she hurriedly hung a cloth bag containing Trinh Phong’s head on a bush next to the double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree. The next day, Mrs. Tran Thi Dai in Phat Tinh hamlet, Phu An village, passed by the double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree, suddenly panicked when she discovered a cloth bag containing a human head hanging on the tree. The people in the hamlet did not know who the unfortunate person was, but being moved with compassion, they buried the head and Ms. Tran Thi Dai asked the villagers to set up a temple to worship him.

After a long time, almost no one remembered the story above. One fine morning, a man who was plowing the field suddenly “went into a trance”, ran to the double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree and claimed that he was Trinh Phong, who was killed by the enemy, buried and worshiped by the people, and he would like to give thanks to people. After that, the man fainted for a long time. When he regained consciousness, the man did not know why he was lying under the double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree and did not remember what he had said.

Through the legend above, people around the area believed that the head in the cloth bag hanging on the branch was Trinh Phong’s. And since then, the small temple next to the double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree has been discreetly called Trinh Phong Temple by the people. Next to the relic is a few-hundred-year-old double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree associated with many local historical events, so people often name the relic after the tree’s name: Double Dipterocarpus Alatus tree Temple and this is the folk name of Trinh Phong Temple.

The temple was bestowed the title of “Đại Đức Khôi Tinh” by the 13th King Thanh Thai (1901), then in the 9th reign of King Khai Dinh (1924) it continued to be conferred the title with beautiful words: “Dực Bảo Trung Hưng Linh Phò Thuần Chính”.

Over time, the temple has been restored and embellished many times. Initially, this was just a small shrine, made of bamboo and leaves. The biggest temple renovation was in 2003, on the occasion of Khanh Hoa’s 350th anniversary.

The relic of Trinh Phong Temple has a total area of 639.1m2. The temple was built in the architectural style of one compartment, two wings, three doors designed in the style of upper part with bars and lower part with board; the wooden frame structure features typical traditional relics in Khanh Hoa. The roof is covered with yin and yang tiles, the top of the roof is covered with the shape of “Two dragons adoring the moon”.

The entire Main Hall is a dignified worship space. In the middle there is the Council altar, then the God altar which is meticulously carved. Prominent in the Main Hall is a pair of couplets praising the merits of General Trinh Phong:

Phonetical transcription:

Hách trạc thần công linh hữu trợ,

Hinh hương tự điển giác đồng vinh.


The people are helped by the glorious divine merits,

And honored by the fragrances.           

Every year, Trinh Phong Temple organizes Spring offerings on the 16th day of the 3rd lunar month. The great ceremony is performed every 3 years.  

With revolutionary historical values associated with local historical figures in the Can Vuong movement against the French in Khanh Hoa, in 1991, Trinh Phong Temple was ranked as a national historical - cultural relic.

[1] Currently known as Phu Vinh hamlet, Vinh Thanh commune, Nha Trang city.

[2] A niece of Trinh Phong, serving him during the time he led the insurgents to fight against French.