Thanks to its magnificent architecture, great location, and history, Thien Mu Pagoda, which ranks one of the most ancient architectural structures and awesome tourist sites in Hue Imperial City, is a must-visit destination on your Vietnam tour.
Where is Thien Mu Pagoda?
Thien Mu is on the northern bank of the Perfume River (Source: Internet)
Located on Ha Khe hill, at the end of Kim Long Road, in An Ninh Thuong Village, Huong Long Ward, on the northern bank of the Perfume River, 5 kilometers from Hue city center, Thien Mu Pagoda (namely Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda), also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is one of the most ancient, magnificent, and well-preserved pagodas in Hue ancient city.
Thien Mu Pagoda’s history
Thien Mu Pagoda (Source: Internet)
Thien Mu Pagoda is said to be originally founded in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang – the governor of Thuan Hoa province and the founder of the Nguyen Dynasty and Southern Vietnam. Legend has it that, there had been a temple of the Cham called Thien Mo pagoda or Thien Mau on Ha Khe Hill before start-up time of the temple, but it was not until 1601 that the construction of Thien Mu Pagoda started between a river and a pine forest.
Over the centuries, thanks to the rise and heyday of Cochinchinese Buddhism, its buildings have been rebuilt several times by King Gia Long, King Minh Mang, King Thieu Tri, King Thanh Thai, Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan and Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. Especially, in 1710, under Lord Quoc period – Nguyen Phuc Chu (1691-1725), this pagoda was renovated in a significant scale. At that time, he had a great bell cast (2.5 m high, weighed 3,285 kg) called Dai Hong Chung and a stele (2.58 m high) erected on the back of a huge marble tortoise in 1715.
In 1714, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu again had the pagoda renovated and oversaw another series of major expansions and construction projects. These great architectural structures added were the Thien Vuong shrine, Dai Hung shrine, Thuyet Phap building, Tang Kinh Pavilion, bell towers, drum towers, towers for storing sutras, Monks' rooms, a house for religious meditation, and halls to venerate Avalokiteshvara. Not all of these buildings now exist.
In 1904, this pagoda was heavily damaged by a terrible storm. The renovation was organized by King Thanh Thai. With the great help of Bonze Thich Don Hau, the renovation was then fully completed for more than 30 years thereafter. In spite of the disappearance of many architectural structures inside, the pagoda is now still the unofficial symbol of Hue ancient city.
What to see in Thien Mu Pagoda
Phuoc Duyen tower
Phuoc Duyen tower (Source: Internet)
Thien Mu Pagoda and Phuoc Duyen tower (at first called Tu Nhan tower), which was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri, are inseparable. With seven storeys (21 m high), each of which is dedicated to a Buddha (Vipassi, Sikhi, Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, etc). Each Buddha image is represented in each level of the tower as a single Buddha statue arranged to face the south. Phuoc Duyen tower is not only the highest stupa in Vietnam but also the most charming feature of Thien Mu Pagoda and the unofficial iconic image of the former imperial capital.
Dai Hung shrine – Thien Mu Pagoda's Sanctuary Hall
Dai Hung Shrine (Source: Internet)
Another popular work of art greatly captivating tourists is Dai Hung Shrine, the main hall, which presents an impressive architecture. This shrine can be accessed through a 3-door gate and along walkway crossing a beautiful courtyard full of colorful flowers. Inside this sanctuary hall, Buddha is worshipped as well as several other important relics, a giant bell, measuring 2.5m in height and 2 tons in weight, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu's inscriptions (1714), and the bronze gong cast in 1677.
Other great works of art to visit are Thien Mu Pagoda's Stone Steles, the car of the monk Thich Quang Duc, Huong Nguyen Temple, etc.
Thanks to their scenic riverside and hillock location, where you can enjoy the gorgeous overview of the Huong River, Thien Mu religious site, and its environs not only stand witness to almost four hundred years of tumultuous nation-building in Vietnam but also went on romantic poems and Hue characterized lyrics. Rich in both history and culture, huetravelreview think that this religious site is a must-visit destination on your Vietnam tour.