Hanoi celebrates 1,000 years of existence (Vietnam Diary)

By Minu Jain, IANS
Thursday, October 28, 2010

HANOI - This charming city, now playing host to the ASEAN summit and many world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is also celebrating its 1,000-year anniversary.

The streets are strung with fairy lights as are the fringes of the many lakes. Elaborate floral arrangements can be seen alongside the streets as this Vietnam capital looks back 1,000 years to 1010 when it came into being.

That’s when the capital of the Viet Kingdom moved to what is now known as Hanoi. The government is hoping to maximise the tourism potential of the event and is reported to have spent more than $60 million on the celebrations.

Parades, film shows, corporate houses like Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation compiling 1,000 best wishes and 1,000 dragons cast in traditional methods to be sold as souvenirs are some of the events that have marked the millennial celebrations of this city.


The city within the river

Hanoi, or more correctly Ha Noi could not have been more aptly named - Ha for river and Noi within - so the city within the river. The many lakes, the Hoan Kiem lake in the centre of the town and the West Lake, more evocatively named Ho Te, add serene charm to this historic town.

But Hanoi was not always Hanoi. The story goes that the city was Dai La when it was founded in the fall of 1010. The king then saw a vision of a dragon ascending from the Red river and named it Thang Long, or ascending dragon.

That was the first of the many changes till 1831 when King Minh Mang renamed it Hanoi.


The India connect

India’s linkages with Vietnam go back almost six decades when late former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru became one of the first visitors to the country after its victory against the French in 1954.

After the first prime minister, first president Rajendra Prasad also travelled to Vietnam in 1959, the year after Vietnam’s president Ho Chi Minh visited India.

The India connection lives on in the Indira Gandhi Park in Hanoi. The park to honour the late prime minister, a close friend of Vietnam’s, was first near the Hoan Kiem lake and then moved to another lakeside park. A bust of the leader was unveiled in October 2007.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at minu.jain@ians.in)

Filed under: Diplomacy

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