Located at the end of Kim Long street, on the northern bank of Huong River, the Thien Mu Pagoda
(Heavenly Lady Pagoda) in Hue
is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country.
The Thien Mu Pagoda has its roots in a local legend: an old woman once appeared on the hill and said that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country's prosperity. Hearing of this, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda of the "Heavenly Lady" (Thien Mu).
Construction began in 1601 under Lord Nguyen Hoang, and it was renovated by Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan in 1665. Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu contributed a great bell in 1710 and and a stele erected on the back of a marble tortoise in 1715. The Phuoc Dien Tower in front was added in 1864 by Emperor Thieu Tri. The pagoda was heavily damaged in 1943, but was then fully renovated for over 30 years thereafter.
The temple complex stretches north from the river banks for dedicating to a human form taken by the Buddha. The octagonal Phuoc Dien Tower (1864) in the front of the complex rises 2m meters high in seven levels. Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, presents a magnificent architecture. Near the entrance gate are 12 huge wooden sculptures of fearsome temple guardians,
with real facial hair. The great bell (2.5m high, 3,285kg) from 1710 and tortoise with inscribed stele (2.58 m high) from 1715 are housed in the main building.
A complex of monastic
buildings lies in the center, where the monks are usually involved in their daily routines of cooking, stacking wood, and whacking weeds. Novices might also be seen practicing their calligraphy.
A building near the rear of the complex houses a national relic: the car in which the monk Thich Quang Duc rode from his temple to Saigon on June 11, 1963. He stepped out of the car in an intersection, sat down in the lotus position, and burned himself to death in protest against the regime’s violations of religious freedom.
When visiting this prestigious site, among other Hue attractions, visitors could enjoy both the scenery here and the traditional architecture of pagodas in Hue. With the high position upward the charming curve of Huong River, this pagoda gives visitors a spectacular and mind-boggling view of the surround areas and the flow. There are bonsai, pine trees and delicate manmade pond covering this pagoda, bringing this site a peaceful feeling which is difficult to find anywhere.
On such special occasions like 15th of April and July basing on the Lunar Calendar, or at the special Tet holiday of Vietnam
, this pagoda is much more crowded and celebrates many unique ceremonies that tourists might be very interested in. These are the time when tourists, both domestic and international, could enjoy the most delicious and traditional vegetarian food in this city without cost.