Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue is among the top 8 amazing Vietnam pagodas you have to see. The pagoda is dubbed the unofficial symbol of Hue and often makes it into folk rhymes about the city. It is also famous as a sacred worshipping site and a popular photo spot for its romantic position beside the Perfume River. Read on to find out more about this pagoda!
The name “Thien Mu” means “heavenly lady”. It has another name: “Linh Mu” or “holy lady”, which was given by Emperor Thieu Tri because he was afraid that the word “Thien” in “Thien Mu” (meaning “heavenly”) would profane heaven. Now the locals refer to this pagoda by both names.
Legend has it that when Lord Nguyen Hoang was seeking a place to settle down, he came across Ha Khe mountain, which looked like a dragon turning its head back (in Vietnam, the dragon represents the monarch). The locals there told him that every night, a woman dressed in red blouse and green pants would say that a true Lord would build a pagoda here and make his country more powerful. The Lord was stoked by the prediction and ordered to build Thien Mu Pagoda where it is nowadays.
Thien Mu Pagoda was also a hotbed for anti-government protests during the summer of 1963. It was often the organizing point and location for Buddhist movement, hunger strikes, barricades and protests against President Ngo Dinh Diem’s rule.
See more of Thien Mu Pagoda’s history at Hue Monuments Conservation Center’s website.
The best time to visit Hue, in general, is January - February since the weather is the coolest, though during the summer, especially May - June, you can see the flaming blooms of flamboyant trees around this pagoda.
Local tip: Visit in the early morning for cooler weather and fewer crowds.
The Perfume River from Thien Mu Pagoda in the summer.
Get tickets to travel to Hue:
Google Map location: Thien Mu Pagoda
Opening hours: 8 AM - 6 PM, daily
Entrance fee: None
Precautions: dress appropriately and take off your shoes upon entering the inside of the pagoda.
Thien Mu Pagoda is 4 kilometers away from Hue Citadel and the road is straightforward so you can either go by motorbike, bike, taxi, or cyclo.
See more: 3 Tips to Avoid Taxi Scams; Precautions on Riding Motorbike
Another interesting choice would be sailing a dragon boat on the Perfume River. It’ll take you around 20 minutes from the Toa Kham Boat Wharf, where you can buy the tickets and a fee of approximately VND 1,000,000. This is not cheap but you will get a full tour of 3 - 4 attractions.
Information of Toa Kham Boat Wharf:
- Address: 49, Le Loi Street, Phu Hoi, Hue City.
- Google Map location: Toa Kham Boat Wharf
- Opening hours: 6.30 AM - 11 PM
The boat wharf near Thien Mu Pagoda.
Phuoc Duyen Tower
This tower, built in 1844, is the icon of the pagoda. At 21 meters high, Phuoc Duyen tower is visible from the Perfume River and has 7 floors, each floor has one statue of Buddha. There is only one entrance through a spiral staircase into this tower.
Thien Mu Pagoda entrance and Phuoc Duyen Tower.
Dai Hung Temple
Dai Hung Temple is the main sanctuary of Thien Mu Pagoda. There are a golden Buddha statue and various bronze Buddha statues from Hue traditional bronze-casting village.
Dai Hung Temple is crowded with tourists and worshippers.
The golden Buddha statue inside Dai Hung Temple.
Mini statues of the Eighteen Arhats inside Dai Hung Temple.
Bronze statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva are being worshipped.
Dia Tang and Quan Am Temple
This temple lies behind Dai Hung Temple in a beautiful garden with lots of trees and even a small artificial waterfall. It worships Ksitigarbha and Bodhisattva.
Trees at Dia Tang and Quan Am Temple provide shelter from the sun for visitors.
Monk Thich Don Hau Tower Grave
This tower grave is at the backend of Thien Mu Pagoda. The tower grave worships the late monk Thich Don Hau - Thien Mu Pagoda’s abbot. He has made significant devotions to the promotion of Buddhism in Hue.
The Tower Grave of monk Thich Don Hau is painted in green.
Other relics in Thien Mu Pagoda
The three-arched-entrance-gate leading into Dai Hung Temple.
A stila engraved with Thien Mu Pagoda’s legend.
Statues of Dharmapala - Dharma’s defenders.
The giant bell which weighs 3,285 kilograms is said to be audible 10 kilometers away.
An ancient drum made from one single jackfruit tree woodblock.
The national treasure at Thien Mu Pagoda - a large marble turtle with a stele engraved with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s poem - “Ngu kien chua Thien Mu”.
If you visit the romantic city of Hue, never miss Thien Mu Pagoda. It is the historical and cultural hub of Hue and a must-see if you’re into learning about religions in Vietnam.
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© Written by Ngan Mai for itourvn.com