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[Photos] The Arduous Pilgrimage to Chùa Hương Over 30 Years Ago

Every year, with the arrival of spring comes a grand journey.

After Tet, thousands of Buddhist followers in Hanoi and neighboring provinces make the annual trek to the Huong Son Complex to participate in festivities and worship. Known among the public as the Perfume Pagoda (chùa Hương), Huong Son is actually a collection of temples, pagodas and shrines in My Duc District in suburban Hanoi.

The Perfume Pagoda Festival begins from the sixth day of the first lunar month until the third lunar month every year and has been welcoming pilgrims since its establishment in the 17th century.

These black-and-white images, taken by Magnum photographer John Vink on February 28, 1990, show an arduous pilgrimage over 30 years ago, when worshipers had to brave blinding fog, vertiginous uphill climbs and slippery steps on their way to the inner temple.

The ultimate destination of every devoted pilgrim is the Perfume Pagoda (chùa Trong) nestled inside the Huong Tich Cavern. To reach the first stop, they take a peaceful boat ride to traverse Suoi Yen, a picturesque stream that used to flow into the Day River.

Previously, as shown in these images, they had to reach the cavern on foot, but in 2006, a cable car route was launched, taking pilgrims across the one-kilometer distance right to the opening of Huong Tich.

[Photos by John Vink via Redsvn]