For the second time since 2009, I came to a pagoda built in the former imperial capital of Hue in the early 17th century. Things are almost unchanged but the religious site looks as attractive as ever.
The Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda) was constructed in 1601, hence one of the oldest religious buildings in the country. Legend has it that Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the pagoda be built after hearing an old woman appearing on a hill where the pagoda is located and saying a Lord would build a Buddhist pagoda for the prosperity of the nation. It later underwent several upgrades by other lords until it had become what it is now.
The pagoda is often crowded with religious and non-religious believers, both at home and abroad. Unsurprisingly, it is a highly recommended site of interest among around 300 Buddhist pagodas and temples in Hue. Just google “Hue pagodas” and you will see the first result relating to this pagoda.
Among the must-see artifacts at the pagoda are the octagonal Phuoc Dien Tower, a great bronze bell that is 2.5 meters high and weighs 3.3 tons, a tortoise with an inscribed stele that is 2.58 meters high, and a car that took Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in Saigon in 1963 in protest of Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime.
Far more than just a site to visit, the Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as Linh Mu, offers an excellent scenic overlook of the peaceful, tranquil and poetic Huong (Perfume) River that is associated with the image and reputation of Hue City. From the entrance of the pagoda, visitors can get a panoramic view of the river and the Ngu Mountain in the background.
Just dropping by a place like the Thien Mu Pagoda is enough for tourists to get a glimpse of several landscapes: a pagoda that represents the ancient architecture of a Buddhist building, and a river and a mountain that both define Hue. By Anh Khoi in Hue
The octagonal Phuoc Dien Tower is viewed from the main hall of the pagoda – Photo: Anh Khoi