Located beside the scenic Huong River, Thien Mu Pagoda, with its historical architecture, adds its own allure at this beautiful natural setting. The sound of Thien Mu’s bell is like the spirit of Hue. Reality, it ever resounds within the Huong River flow winding its way in front of the Citadel toward the sea, resonating in the minds and hearts of people and visitors to Hue, the old capital.
How Thien Mu pagoda is unique?
Thien Mu Pagoda is the oldest one in Hue city. The institution is associated with the early actions of the initial Nguyen Lord in Dang Trong. This legend relates how, when Nguyen Hoang was sent to Thuan Hoa to rule this place. He himself made a survey of the terrain to choose a place for settling down.
As he rode his horse upstream along the Huong River side. He saw a little hillock beside the river, whose terrain looked like a dragon turning its head back. And this mountain names Ha Khe. The regional people have told a story that every single night old woman in red blouse and green pants appeared here stating that a real Lord will come to this place. And he would build a pagoda to the wealth of the country.
Therefore, this area became known as Thien Mu Son. It seemed the expansive ideas of Lord Nguyen Hoang matched the people’s desires. Therefore, he ordered to build a pagoda on a hill, overlooking the Huong River and named Thien Mu Tu (Thien Mu pagoda).
In reality, a pagoda of the Champa individuals previously stood on this site. Yes, the relic mentioned in the book O Chau Can Luc composed by Duong Van An in 1553. It had been not until 1601 the Lord Nguyen Hoang asked to build the pagoda. As a result of the development, prosperity and spread of Buddhism in Dang Trong, the Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu rebuilt the pagoda on a larger scale.
In 1710, this Lord ordered that a large bell with an inscribed instruction be cast. And in 1714, he asked to renovate the pagoda again and added several great architectural structures.
Addition, These included the Thien Vuong, Dai Hung and Thuyet Phap buildings, Tang Kinh Pavilion, Monks rooms and a home for religious meditation. A number of those buildings no longer exist today. Nguyen Phuc Chu himself wrote a narrative description describing the construction of the buildings. He praised the doctrine of the Buddhism, also about the merits of the Buddhism monk Thach Liem.
This was instrumental in assisting Lord Nguyen boost Buddhism in Dang Trong. They placed the inscribed stela on a large stone turtle with easy decorations which enhanced its beauty. As a result, Thien Mu pagoda was to be the most beautiful one in Dang Trong at the time by its enlarged scale and a natural landscape.
During the ups and downs of history, Thien Mu was once the place for sacrifices to the Deity under Tay Son’s reign in 1788. The Nguyen reign restored the pagoda many times.
In 1844, on the 80th birthday of Queen Thuan Thien Cao Hoang Hau (Gia Long’s wife and Thieu Tri’s grandmother), renovated the pagoda again. It renovated together with the construction of Tu Nhan Tower (later renamed Phuoc Duyen), Huong Nguyen temple and two steles inscribed with Thieu Tri Emperor’s poems.
Phuoc Duyen Tower is a famous symbolic link with Thien Mu Pagoda. It is 21 metres high, has seven floors, located in front of the pagoda and is visible from the Huong River. On each of the seven floors there is a statue of Buddha. There is a gold Buddha statue inside the tower a spiral staircase leads to the top floor. Huong Nguyen temple is in front of the Tower.
Factually, Thien Mu Pagoda was ranked one of the twenty most beautiful landscapes in Hue. Together with the poem Thien Mu chung thanh, the emperor Thieu Tri wrote it and inscribed on the stone stele set near the Pagoda gate. In 1862, Tu Duc King prayed for a child, he renamed the Pagoda as Linh Mu which means Holy Lady. Because the Emperor was afraid that the word Thien profaned Heaven, it means heavenly.
Finally, the Emperor allowed the reuse of the old name Thien Mu meaning Heavenly Lady in 1869. The Pagoda is still known by both names today.
In 1904, a terrible storm seriously damaged the Pagoda. The storm destroyed many structures become the ruins as well as Huong Nguyen Temple not visible.
In gereral, Thien Mu pagoda has remains many valuable architectural structures. They are Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hung, Dia Tang and Quan Am temples, In addition to, the stone steles and bronze bells thanks to the re-constructions and restorations
Infact, Thien Mu Pagoda is also home to many valuable antiques of both historical and artistic value and importance. They are the statures Ho Phap, Thap Vuong, Di Lac Buddha, the three Buddhas symbolizing Past, Present and Future Lives.
The garden of flowers and plants surrounds the Pagoda. People have a well care every day so that the pagoda has the beautiful scene. There is a bonsai of the ancestor of Vietnam Tuong (Classical drama), Dao Tan. They are next to the car left in 1963 by the Superior Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, before burning himself to protest the policy of Ngo Dinh Diem regime in suppressing Buddhism.
Final, at the end of the garden is the Tower of the Superior Buddhist monk Thich Don Hau. He was a famous head of Thien Mu Pagoda. He devoted his whole life to the promotion of Buddhism and the good of society.
Within Thien Mu Pagoda, it is easy to feel the inspiration of a dreaming and romantic Hue. Through hundreds of years, every architectural works and their structures has expressed the belief. Plus, is the solemn and the harmonious combination with the beautiful natural landscapes. In conclusion, have a discover Hue tourism and Thien Mu Pagoda, tourists will comfortably immerse their mind drifting Perfume River downstream to feel another life in a peaceful Hue.
How to travel to Thien Mu pagoda?
- By boat: Take a dragon boat along Perfume River about 30 minutes to reach Thien Mu Pagoda with passing through river bank with beautiful scenery.
- By car/taxi/cyclo: Travel along Kim Long street and go ahead Nguyen Phuc Chu street. It takes about 10 minutes with 2km from city centre.
- From Hue to Danang : It is about 120km and take 2 hours on car
It’s great for:
- People love to discover culture and religion
- All year round visiting
- Wearing polite clothes with long pants or jeans, T’shirt or pull
- No entrance fee
- Time opening from 8:00am to 6:00pm
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