1. Overview of Thien Mu pagoda

Apart from Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, the ancient capital, is one of Vietnam’s most famous tourist destinations. The city attracts a lot of domestic and foreign tourists to go sightseeing and explore the cultural buildings, especially the Thien Mu pagoda. The 400-year-old pagoda is the most ancient in Hue and possesses perfect royal architecture, poetic views, and geographical location. Besides, mysterious stories about Thien Mu pagoda also attract many tourists.    

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Thien Mu pagoda is an ancient and tranquil relic in Hue


Thien Mu Pagoda (or the temple of the Celestial Lady) is located on the Ha Khe hill, in the ward of Huong Long in Hue. It is around 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from the Imperial Citadel, constructed by the Nguyen Dynasty, and sits on the northern bank of the Huong River.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
It is located on the graceful Huong river bank

How to get there?

Visitors can get to the pagoda in different ways, such as taking a dragon boat to Thien Mu pagoda along the Perfume River while listening to the Hue Royal Court Music. Another option for sportive visitors is to ride a bike or walk to Thien Mu pagoda to enjoy the atmosphere in Hue.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Getting there by dragon boats is an interesting experience

Opening hour

Thien Mu Pagoda opens from 8 am to 6 pm every day. The most ideal time to visit is probably from January to February – the weather is extremely pleasant and cool. Visitors don’t need to pay for visiting.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
The green surrounding attracts a lot of visitors

2. History of Thien Mu pagoda

The establishment process

Nguyen Hoang (Nguyen Lords) ordered people to build a pagoda in Thuan Hoa (now known as Hue) in 1601. While visiting a nearby region, he heard a local tale about a woman – Thien Mu. At night, she wore a red and green costume and rubbed her cheeks. Then, she foretold that a  true lord would come and build a pagoda on the hill to pray for the prosperity of his country. After that, she disappeared. Because of this prophecy, the Hoang lord ordered the construction of a pagoda in this area and named it Thien Mu Temple.
Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
A picture of Thien Mu pagoda in the past
At first, the construction was basic with simple materials, but it was then expanded and upgraded in 1665 by Nguyen Phuc Tan, the next lord. In 1710, the Chu government gave casting of a giant bell, the most highly appreciated cultural relic at that time in Vietnam. The sound of the bell is audible within 10 km, so it became the subject of many poems and songs. One of them was the poem of Emperor Thieu Tri (Nguyen Dynasty).
Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Besides admiring the landscape, people can explore the history and mystery of the pagoda
Noticeably, emperors also focused on organizing many religious activities as the vipassana retreat from the full moon of the fourth and seventh lunar month. Many other emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, typically Gia Long, and Minh Mang emperors, controlled and continued to upgrade and restore the pagoda.

The restoration

In  1714, the current government conducted a throughout expansion and renovation of the pagoda. They built the main gate with a triple design; and many other beautiful shrines, including halls for preaching dharma, towers for storing sutras, bell towers, etc.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

The great restoration of Thien Mu pagoda took place between 2003 and 2006 with 18 construction categories. This is the first restoration after hundreds of years conducted by the Hue Monuments Conservation Center and the Institute of Construction Science and technology with a total cost of over 26 billion VND.

3. The origin of the name Thien Mu Pagoda

The first name of the pagoda is Thien Mu – the Heaven Fairy Lady deriving from the local legend. When Lord Nguyen Hoang heard about the legend, he ordered the construction of the pagoda and named it Thien Mu – Heaven Fairy Lady. After that, Tu Duc Emperor changed its name to Linh Mu in 1862 to be more respectful.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Thien Mu Pagoda

4. The mystery about the love curse in Thien Mu pagoda

Many residents believe that love couples shouldn’t come to Thien Mu pagoda together because the love curse will separate them. A long time ago, a poor orphaned boy fell in love with a girl from a well-off family in the region. Although they loved each other deeply, the girl’s parents forced them to break up. Therefore, they decided to suicide themselves in the Huong river, located in front of Linh Mu pagoda) to prove their true love.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

However, only the boy died; the girl washed up on the river bank, so the villagers saved the girl. As time went by, the girl forgot her first love and got married to a rich mandarin. She then lived a wealthy and happy life with her husband. The boy, with a miserable soul, knew about that. Thus, his wretched soul possessed Thien Mu pagoda and cursed every couple visiting Thien Mu pagoda would break up. Since then, love couples don’t dare to come there, but many single ones visit this pagoda to wish for love and happiness. On the other hand, the monks of Thien Mu pagoda said that people made up the story about the love curse to deter loving couples from doing disrespectful actions in the sacred pagoda.

5. What to admire inside Thien Mu pagoda

The pagoda has an ancient Buddhist architectural style with many sections, including the Information room and Museum sop, an Outdoor display area, Long An palace (the main displaying hall), a Section of Cham antiques, and an Office. Noticeably, the unique artwork of the pagoda attracts the attention of many tourists.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

The garden of the pagoda follows Hue’s gardening tradition and is a harmonious combination between people and nature. The land has a lot of pine trees, fruits, flowers, waterlilies, grasslands, and bonsai.

Dai Hung Temple

Located right in the main hall of Thien Mu pagoda, Dai Hung Temple worships Maitreya Buddha – the God of carefree and happy emotion. The statue of Maitreya Buddha lies in the center of the hall with a gentle smile, big ears, and big belly presenting tolerance and kindness. Architects use solid cement to build the temple and paint it a wood color to make the temple look more familiar and friendly.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

In addition, the Dai Hung temple also stores ancient calligraphic paintings and a delicate bronze sun-moon bell. Beside the temple also worship the statue of Tam The Buddha, Van Phu Bodhisattva, and Pho Hien.

The stupa of Dharma Master Thich Don Hau

The land behind the temple is the burial place of Dharma Master Thich Don Hau. He is the first head monk of the Thien Mu pagoda. Because of his great contributions to the national and Buddhist associations, he becomes the only monk to be buried in the ground of the pagoda. Monks preserved his ashes inside a stupa to express their gratitude and respect for him.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

The Austin Car – A historical evidence

Thien Mu pagoda also stores many historical artifacts and antiques. One of them is an Austin car, which belongs to Thich Quang Duc monk. He burnt himself in 1963 against Ngo Dinh Diem Regime and ask for liberty for Buddhists. However, the fire couldn’t burn his heart so people called his heart – the heart of Bodhisattva. Vietnamese and people in the world respected and admired his courage and patriotism.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature

The three-arche gate

The three-arche gate is behind Phuoc Duyen tower and is the main entrance of the pagoda. The gate contains three doors representing three worlds: Human – Devil – God, with two floors and eight roofs. The second floor of the center door worships Buddhists, having a sophisticated pattern on the roofs. Moreover, each path has its statue of the Dharma Protector.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
The three-arche gate is typical in Vietnamese pagodas

Phuoc Duyen Tower

From the Huong river, visitors can see the Phuoc Duyen tower standing visibly. The tower was a birthday gift the Emperor gave to his grandmother in 1844. The statue of Buddha facing the South on every floor impresses several visitors. The building materials are clay, stone, and Bat Trang traditional ceramics. Phuoc Duyen tower is one of the most popular parts of the Thien Mu pagoda. The architecture impresses tourists with the unique and ancient beauty of the Imperial Citadel – Hue.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Phuoc Duyen tower has a stele written about the history of the Thien Mu pagoda

Giant Turtle

The giant marble turtle inside the campus is one of the features of the Thien Mu pagoda. It was made in 1675 and belongs to four holy animals in Vietnam. Turtles symbolize longevity and education. Therefore, students often come here and touch the head of the turtle to get fortunes before exams. Besides, the back of the turtle has a stele that commemorates Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s renovation. The text penned by the Lord to give compliments to the pagoda praises Buddhism, as well as the monk.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
The giant turtle is a symbol of education and luck

Dai Hong Chung Bell

On the right is a pavilion having a giant bronze bell –  Dai Hong Chung. The bell is one of the most achievements of bronze casting in Vietnam in the 1710s. Its size is huge at 4.5 feet high, and its sound can spread over 6 miles.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
The bronze bell was an outstanding achievement in casting bronze

Kṣitigarbha shrine

Kṣitigarbha shrine is situated right after the main temple with a peaceful and quiet surrounding. The front yard is spacious and airy with green plants and a lake. This shrine is ideal for visitors to sit down and take a rest after a long walk.

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Kṣitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in Buddhism

6. Notes when visiting Thien Mu pagoda

Thien Mu pagoda - Hue's historical feature
Many tourists fall in love with the poetry of the Thien Mu pagoda
  • Before entering the Dai Hung Temple, visitors need to take off their shoes, and glasses to show their respect to the Gods.
  • Remember to dress politely and avoid talking too loud here.
  • The pagoda has parking lots for cars, motorbikes, and bikes costing about 5,000 VND per vehicle.
  • There is no cafeteria in the pagoda so visitors should bring pure water and some snacks if they want to

Nguồn tham khảo: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Rate this post