Marble Mountains is located in Danang, Vietnam. They are land karsts (not sure if that is the correct term), they look like big lumps rising up up out the flat land that is Danang. I visited them twice during my stay in Danang. The first time I went I joined up with a few people I had met at the guesthouse and we walked up the many steps to an upper viewpoint with a pagoda on it. Fantastic views and lots of templely stuff to look at. We found one cave and it was neat but nothing spectacular if you’ve been to other caves and I have. At the time that I visited there was a gigantic glass elevator shaft being constructed right next the mountain, an incongruous sight to say the least. Needless to say I wasn’t overly impressed, I had expected more as it’s one of the only reasons listed in Lonely Planet to go to Danang.

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Once back at the guesthouse we talked to a guy who had been staying there a while and he told us we had missed the best part, we’d have to go back, so a few day later I did, with a different group this time. We walked past the stairs my group had gone up the first time and entered a large cave. Inside was massive with a row of statues, a set of scales and a central figure with a wheel behind it, I realized that this was supposed to represent purgatory, the space between heaven and hell, and these figures represented the people? angels?  who were going to sit in judgement of your soul to figure out which direction you would be sent. We found a passageway that lead downwards into a maze of tunnels and nooks and crannies with all sorts of bizarre statues showing various tortured souls, demons and monsters, it was surprisingly disturbing and graphic. The “hell” passageways eventually led up back up into purgatory and from there we found another pathway, this time leading upwards to “heaven” filled with hundreds of Buddhas, dragons, lotus flowers and more, all in white marble. A massive stairway lead upwards with all these images carved into relief on the walls. At the top we climbed through a small opening into daylight and there was a simple Buddha shrine.

“Purgatory”

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“Hell”

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“Heaven”

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Definitely a worthwhile second visit!

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