Temple of Literature Hanoi
Temple of Literature (Vietnamese: Văn Miếu is a temple of Confucius in Vietnam.
Although several Văn Miếu can be found throughout Vietnam, the most prominent and famous is that situated in the city of Hanoi, which also functioned as Vietnam's first university. It is featured on the back of the one hundred thousand Vietnamese đồng bank notes
The landmark was founded in 1070 as a Confucian temple. Only parts of the Văn Miếu complex date back to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates to the Lý (1010 – 1225) and Trần (1225 – 1400) Dynasties.
In 1076 Vietnam's first university, the Quốc Tử Giám or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779. Given the extreme difficulty of the doctor laureate tests, few students passed final examinations. The list of names engraved on the stone stele every year during this period is very small. The stele records 2,313 students graduating as doctor laureates.
Emperor Lê Thánh Tông established the tradition, dating back to 1484, of carving the names of the laureates of the university on stone steles that were placed on top of stone tortoises. Of the 116 steals corresponding to the examinations held between 1142 and 1778, only 82 remain.
According to the book the Complete History of the Great Viet, "In the autumn of the year Canh Tuat, the second year of Than Vu (1070), in the 8th lunar month, during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature was built. The statues of Confucius, his four best disciples: Yan Hui (Nhan Uyên), Zengzi (Tăng Sâm), Zisi (Tử Tư), and Mencius (Mạnh Tử), as well as the Duke of Zhou (Chu Công), were carved and 72 other statues of Confucian scholars were painted. Ceremonies were dedicated to them in each of the four seasons. The Crown Princess studied here."
This ancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi's finest historical sites. The temple is based on Confucius' birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. It consists of five courtyards lined out in order, entrance to the first, via the impressive twin-tiered Văn Miếu gate, leads to three pathways that run the length of the complex.
The centre path was reserved for the king, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins. The first two courtyards are peaceful havens of ancient trees and well-trimmed lawns where scholars could relax away from the bustle of the city outside the thick stone walls.
Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khuê Văn Các (constellation of literature), a large pavilion built in 1802. Central to this courtyard is the Thien Quang Tinh ("Well Of Heavenly Clarity"), either side of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. These are 82 stones steles. Another 34 are believed to have been lost over the years. They sit upon stone turtles and are inscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quốc Tử Giám ("Imperial Academy") between 1484 and 1780, after which the capital was moved to Huế.
The fourth courtyard is bordered on either side by great pavilions which once contained altars of 72 of Confucius' greatest students but now contain offices, a gift shop and a small museum displaying ink wells, pens, books and personal artifacts belonging to some of the students that studied here through the years. At the far end of the courtyard is the altar with statues of Confucius and his four closest disciples. The fifth courtyard contained the Quốc Tử Giám, Vietnam's first university, founded in 1076 by King Ly Can Duc, but this was destroyed by French bombing in 1947.
The complex has undergone much restoration work, most recently in 1920 and again in 1954, but remains one of the few remaining examples of later Lý Dynasty (1009-1225) architecture within easy walking distance of Ba Dinh square.
One Pillar Pagoda - Chua Mot Cot
Close-by the impressive presidential palace is a treasure and a landmark of Hanoi. It appears somewhat bizarre, but is a small and fine gem: „the Một Cột Pagoda” (One-Pillar Pagoda). The name is immediately evident; its second name is Pagoda of the goddess Quan Âm. Quan Âm is the goddess of the mercy. According to the legend the goddess Quan Âm appear to King Lý Thái Tông (1000 - 1054) in a dream. The king was already old and still childless and sought a successor. In the dream Quan Âm handed him a son while seated on a lotus flower. The king then took a farmer girl as concubine and had a son by her, who is the long desired successor to the throne forecasted by the goddess. Deeply gratefully Lý Thái Tông built in the year 1049 the Một Cột Pagoda in honors of the goddess of mercy. As the name suggests the pagoda stands on one pillar in the middle of an artificial square lake.
In the season, the lake is covered by lotus flowers. The pagoda itself is wooden and about 3 x 3 meters. Inside resides a statue of Quan Âm. In the course of its 1000 year history this pagoda was destroyed – and rebuilt - many times. The French occupation army last destroyed it shortly before quitting Viet Nam. In 1955 it was – again – reconstructed, this time – unfortunately! - with a concrete pillar instead of the original wooden pillar. Unfortunately? It could be seen as the pragmatic Vietnamese attempt to connect the tradition with the modernity. Whether concrete or wood, the Bodhisattva Quan Âm will continue to be admired here as child-bringing goddess. This delicate pagoda is worth a visit anyway.
Location: Located in Dinh Bang Village, Tu Son Town, Bac Ninh Province, 15km from Hanoi.
Characteristics: Do Temple worship the eight Kings of Ly Dynasty and is famous for its unique architecture. Formerly, the Do Temple was famous for its architecture, highly praised through the verses: "The architecture of the Do Temple is marvelous and worthy to the thousand-year-old history of Thang Long"
Do Temple was built during the Le Dynasty and has been altered several times since. The major reconstruction took place under the reign of Le Trung Hung, in the 17th century.
In front of the Temple lies a semi-circular lake, with clear and full water all the year round. The lake is connected with two ponds at both ends of the village, with the Tieu Tuong River in front of the village. In the center of the lake stands a square house reserved for water puppetry performances with two beautiful tiered roofs. To the south of the lake, there is a huge pavilion to preserve stone slabs inscribed with the merits of the eight kings of Ly Dynasty, and to the north of the lake, a 5-compartment floating house for visitors to take a rest.
The Temple's gate includes five doors made of hard wooden plates assembled together and carved on top images of dragons waiting upon the moon. When the door opens, its two leaves are wide apart, and the two dragons on top of the doors seem to be soaring. On day, the dragons' eyes when catching the light shine like gemstones. Along the three-step staircase, are carved two stone dragons with clouds around, on a green stone floor, symbolizing the Thang Long (Soaring Dragon) Capital.
Passing the gate and a large yard, a green stone paved road leads visitors to a square house, with eight tiered roofs and three compartments, 70m2 in area. Then there is a 7-compartment front worship house, 220m2 in area, whose front walls are hung with two big posters displaying capital letters: "Eight Kings together brightening" and "Co Phap Commune - a foundation of the Ly Dynasty".
Then a three-compartment house, 80m2 in area, with eight tiered roofs. These three compartments are spacious and ventilated and on the axis leading to the Co Phap ancient back pavilion, 180m2 in area, and with the floor space in the shape of a Cong letter...
Different parts of the Do Temple are being restored one after another by skilful craftsmen. A rolling of drumbeats was suddenly heard, signaling the start of a procession to bring the tablet of King Ly Thai To from the Do Temple to the Ung Tam Pagoda where the King's mother was worshipped for a reunion of the King and his mother. The procession was attended by a thousand of people, who expressed the spirit of the Vietnamese, i.e. "when drinking the water, think of its source".
Thien Mu Pagoda
Location: Thien Mu Pagoda is situated on Ha Khe Hill, on the left bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long Village, 5km from center of Hue City.
Characteristic: It was built in 1601, and then Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan had it renovated in 1665. In 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu had a great bell cast (2.5m high; 3,285kg) and in 1715, he had a stele (2.58m high) erected on the back of a marble tortoise.
The name of the pagoda comes from a legend: a long ago, an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today. She told local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country's prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang, on hearing that, ordered the construction of the pagoda of the "Heavenly Lady".
Several kings of the Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Thanh Thai, all had the pagoda restored. Phuoc Duyen Tower (at first called Tu Nhan Tower) was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (21m high). Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, presents a magnificent architecture. As well as bronze cast statues, it shelters some precious antiques: the bronze gong cast in 1677, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu's inscriptions (1714). On both sides of the pagoda are a room for the bonzes and a guest-room for visitors.
The pagoda is surrounded by flowers and ornamental plants. At the far end of the garden stretches a calm and romantic pine-tree forest. The pagoda was heavily damaged in 1943. Bonze Thich Don Hau hence organized a great renovation of the pagoda that lasted for more than 30 years.
Thien Hau Temple in Ho Chi Minh City
Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu (The Pagoda of the Lady Thien Hau) is a Chinese style temple located on Nguyen Trai Street in the Cho Lon (Chinatown) district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is dedicated to Thiên Hậu, the Lady of the Sea ("Tian Hou" as transcribed from the Chinese), who is also known as "Mazu".
Thiên Hậu is a deity of traditional Chinese religion, who is revered in the southern maritime provinces of China and in overseas Chinese communities. Thiên Hậu is worshipped in the seafaring Chinese communities of Fukien, Canton, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. She is not specifically a deity of Taoism or of Buddhism, though she has been brought into connection with figures and themes from Taoism and Buddhism. For example, at Quan Am Pagoda, also in Cho Lon, Ho Chi Minh City, the two major altars are dedicated respectively to Thiên Hậu and to Quan Âm (the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara).
The temple is located right on busy Nguyen Trai Street. It can be accessed by entering through an iron gate and crossing a small courtyard. The roof is decorated with small delicately fashioned porcelain figurines expressing themes from Chinese religion and legends. Lanterns and wooden models of Chinese theaters hang over the entrance.
The interior of the temple is actually a partially covered courtyard, at the end of which is the altar to Thiên Hậu. The exposed portions of the courtyard contain incense burners, and open the view to the remarkable porcelain dioramas that decorate the roof. The dioramas show scenes from a 19th century Chinese city, and include such colorful figures as actors, demons, animals, and Persian and European sailors and traders. In one scene, actors depict a duel on horseback battle between the revered halberd-wielding general Guan Yu of the novel Three Kingdoms and another fighter. Another scene depicts the three Taoist sages representing longevity, fecundity and prosperity.
The altar to Thiên Hậu is dominated by the three statues of the goddess. The faces are bronze in color, and the clothes and crowns are multi-colored. Incense burners are all about.
Travel tip shared by Lanh Nguyen