Tran Quoc Pagoda
Location: Chùa Tr?n Qu?c (or Tran Quoc Pagoda) is located beside the dazzling West Lake, on Thanh Nien Road, Hanoi. Particularly, it is seated on an island linked by a bridge to the causeway between the two most romantic lakes of Hanoi: West Lake and Truc Bach Lake.
History: The construction of the pagoda started in 541 and was completed in 545 under the reign of King Ly Nam De (544-548) under its original name of Khai Quoc (National Founder). It was initially built on the bank of the Red River (then West Lake and the Red River met).
Until the early 17th century, under the reign of King Le Kinh Tong (1600-1618), the pagoda was moved to the Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) Islet due to the river bank crumbling and was renamed Tran Quoc (National Defence).
You might ask yourself why among a number of beautiful pagodas in Hanoi, Tran Quoc should be visited. The reason derives from the fact that it is considered a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism partly for it is the oldest pagoda and situated in the center of the capital of Vietnam. More importantly, unlike other ordinary pagodas, Tran Quoc Pagoda was built in a very intricate way. Behind the worshipping shrine is the Buddhist trinity followed by corridors, ten shrines and the belfry. Inside the pagoda, there are many valuable statues, such as the red lac statue trimmed with gold of Sakyamouni Buddha's Parinirvana, which is a masterpiece of Vietnamese sculptural art, and lots of ancient stele, one of which was made in 1639 by Doctoral lau- Nguyen Xuan Chinh, recording the Pagoda's history.
It must be said that the island and pagoda provide a beautiful backdrop, particularly when viewed at sunset. Standing at one end of Thanh Nien Road, one can see the towers of the pagoda rising above the lake’s surface. In the pagoda’s garden stands a B? ?? (Bodhi) tree, which is attached to a past story. The story tells that in 1959, on his visit to Vietnam, Indian Prime Minister Razendia Prasat offered the Pagoda a bodhi tree as a gift. The plant was grafted from the holy bodhi tree where Sakyamuni sat in zen (meditation) position and achieved enlightenment in India 25 centuries ago. Now the bodhi tree is easily recognizable from its heart-shaped leaves, taken from a cutting of its original tree
These days, Tran Quoc Pagoda, as a religious relic with spectacular surrounding scenery, is a favourite stop-over of so many foreign visitors and pilgrims.
Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is famous for its great size and imposingness. The pagoda will be also set more record for the owner of the most Arhat Statues in ASEAN with 500 Arhat statues made of stone and stand higher than human’s head.
Located behind a range of limestone mountains in Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province, the site with construction lying about in disorder and in the way, so it is difficult to imagine its beauty as well as its solemn to a pagoda in the true sense of the word as the tradition. However, its great size and imposingness can be felt by anybody when visiting it one time. Its back leans against the Bai Dinh Mountain with the height of 200m. The area for constructing Ba Dinh Pagoda is 80ha, which is located on the mass of “Bai Dinh Pagoda hallowed culture” belonging to Trang An Tourism Area. Currently, this mass is executing many items of Pagoda including Tam The (Past, Present and Future) Temple, Sanctuary and Bodhisatva Kwan Yin statue, Dharma Temple, Bell-tower, Three-door temple gate, and dormitory area for Buddhist monks, etc. In front of Pagoda valley, a hundred of excavators, bulldozers and power-shovels are digging land and build up a dike to make a huge semicircular lake, which will be taken water from the river crossing to create a landscape of “on shore and under boat” like the Yen Stream flowing under the foot of Huong Tich Pagoda.
Four statues - three bronze Tam The statues and one Great Buddha Sakyamuni statue - are the pride of “Owners” of Bai Dinh pagoda. Each statue of Tam The weighs 50 tons, 12m high, Great Buddha Sakyamuni statue with 16m high and weighs 100 tons, which are casted by the pure bronze bought from Russian, casted and installed by the famous Artisans of casting bronze statue in Y Yen, Nam Dinh. A “great bell” with the weight of 60 tons was casted and located on the top of hill on the way come to the main sanctuary. The Great Bell is so big that it is estimated if wanting to sound the bell, it will need a big log of wood and four puller the log of wood to prod into the bell.
The astonishing one is the “collection” of 500 Arhat statues on the hill in the right of Dharma Temple. The 500 Arhat statues with the height of 2.3m, carved by Ninh Binh stone. According to the supervisor for executing at the site, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Truong - investor and his collaborator came to China to learn and take the sample drawings of 500 Arhat’s legend and brought to home country for the painters, carvers to make the sample statue of gypsum, after that the craftsmen carved the statues again by monolithic green stone. People in Gia Vien District joked that: only carving enough these 500 Arhat statues, the villagers in Ninh Van’s stone craft village, Hoa Lu (neighbor district) have got enough jobs security during the past two years.
Though the construction of Bai Dinh Pagoda has not yet finished, the reputation of this new Pagoda was far-resounding. The visitors received some information from the backstage “whisper in each other’s ears”, have come to burn incense before the bronze statues of Buddha which are still being covered by scaffolds. While far from the large site 2km, if sharp-sighted the passers will see a humble three-door temple gate located next the roadside. Through the three-door temple gate, turn to the small path rather slope, go up to the top of mountain we will see the Bai Dinh Pagoda (old), full of green moss and quiet. There is virtually none knowing to a “Great Buddhist Pagoda” will be going to set the record of Asian being executed at the site over there.
A tour of the top of Ba Na Mountain in the central coast city of Danang is never complete without a walk around the Linh Ung-Ba Na Pagoda.
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.
The main hall of the Linh Ung-Ba Na Pagoda
This is one of the three Linh Ung pagodas in Danang with the other two being Linh Ung-Bai But on Son Tra Peninsula and Linh Ung-Non Nuoc on Marble Mountains.
Linh Ung-Ba Na is the highest pagoda among the three as it is located at around 1,500 meters above sea level.
The pagoda is part of the Ba Na Hills ecological resort complex on top of Ba Na Mountain. It is a real challenge to walk up a very steep road to the pagoda from the Gare De Bay transit terminal where visitors take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain after going halfway to the peak. Don’t worry about that as vans are available for those who are not ready for a workout.
The pagoda is an excellent place where visitors can take a good look at the French-style mansion of the Gare De Bay terminal nestled in the jungle and looking just like a European castle as described in a fairy tale. Standing there, visitors can also have a bird’s-eye view of the jungle and the city below.
What’s more striking about the pagoda is the 27-meter-high white Sakyamuni Buddha Statue with the octagonal base having a story about the eight stages of the Buddha’s life.
Just around 40km west of downtown Danang, the Ba Na Mountain and especially the Linh Ung-Ba Na Pagoda should be given a try when you are in Danang.
Vinh ngiem pagoda
HCM City's Vinh Nghiem Pagoda boasts of a stone tower that is the tallest in Vietnam. The 14-meter stone tower, which was inaugurated in late December 2003, is the first stone tower in the South built by craftsmen aged between 20 and 30. The tower sits in a harmonious position amid imposing structures of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, whose construction started in 1964.
One special feature of the tower is its small leaning degree, only 0.05% as tested by design and construction experts from the Ministry of Defense. This means that the 14meter tower leans only seven millimeters or every meter of its height deviates just 0.5 millimeter (0.05%) from the center, a leaning degree that is much lower than the common standard in Vietnam. In particular, the tower was built completely with stones, which are put together by stone joints and glue.
The seven-story tower has the same superficies as those of most Buddhist towers in Vietnam. It has a square shape, with each side measuring five meters, and is surrounded by square stone parapets of 9.5 meters long each. The tower is on an octagonal pedestal.
The five steps from the two main stone columns leading to the tower represent the five senses and the five forces in Buddhism. On its body is a pair of big dragons and 27 pairs of small dragons and phoenixes. Countless lotuses, bodhi leaves, waves, bats, parallel sentences and mantras are inscribed on the six stories. The word "longevity" is inscribed on the first story in the Ly Dynasty's style. Other patterns and sculptures follow the typical styles of the Tran Dynasty.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda takes its origin from a pagoda of the same name in Duc La Commune, Bac Giang Province, which was the center of Zen Buddhism during the Tran Dynasty.
The tower, named Vinh Nghiem, honors the most venerable Thich Thanh Kiem, one of the two superior monks who founded Vinh Nghiem Pagoda. Upon completion, it was recognized by many architects and arts researchers as the tower with the highest density of elaborated carvings among the towers in Vietnam.
The stones used for construction were taken from Thanh Hoa Province. Many were mined from the famous Nhoi Mountain, whose stones have fine density and pure color. The elegant, bent roofs of the seven stories, with their stunningly elaborated carvings, are whole stone masses each weighing between six and 10 tons.
Most young craftsmen come from the three stone villages of Thuong, He and Xuan Vu of Ninh Van Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province. There are several hundred stone craftsmen in Ninh Van, most of them very young. They are the offspring of craftsmen who built the stone church of Phat Diem in Ninh Binh more than a century ago.