Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu pagoda is the oldest temple in Hue, constructed in an astonishing 1601 and is also labeled the unofficial symbol of Hue city.
Legend has it that when Lord Nguyen Hoang was entrusted to rule Dang Trong by King Le (during this period, Vietnam was named Dai Viet and divided into 2 parts: Dang Ngoai had Trinh Lord and Dang Trong with Lord Nguyen). He intended to build his own dynasty for the Nguyen family. On one special occasion, riding a horse along the Perfume River towards the watershed, he found a small hill beside the Huong River, shaped like a dragon, with the name is Ha Khe Hill.
People here told Lord Nguyen Hoang that at nights there was usually an old lady wearing a red shirt with green pants appeared on the hill, telling people: “latterly, there will be a lord who will set up a pagoda to gather the spirit aura, with good density, in order to make Dai Nam strong “. For this reason, Ha Khe hill is also called Thien Mu hill.
As an arrangement, Lord Nguyen realized that this was a prophecy for him. The lord immediately chose this hill to build a pagoda toward the Perfume River named Thien Mu which means “Lady of the Sky “. This is why this temple is called Thien Mu.
Things to see in in Thien Mu Pagoda
Opening hours: daily
Thien Mu Pagoda contains ancient Buddhist architecture that can be said to be the most beautiful pagoda in Hue, with several works and stories surrounding it:
At the front of Thien Mu pagoda is the famous poetic Huong river of Hue and a boat station where the name was given according to the famous pagoda, Thien Mu Boat Station.
Upon entering the temple up the steep staircase, you will pass 4 pillars as the pagoda gate – you have now reached Thien Mu Pagoda.
Phuoc Duyen Tower
It can be said that Phuoc Duyen Tower is a famous symbol when associated with Thien Mu Pagoda. Standing at 21 meters, it consists of 7 floors (No. 7 is the spiritual number of Buddhism) and was built in front of the pagoda in 1844. Each tower floor has worshiped Buddha statue. Inside there is a spiral staircase leading up to the top floor, where it used to worship a golden Buddha statue.
In front of the tower is Huong Nguyen temple (the Huong Nguyen temple collapsed completely due to the Storm of 1904) on the roof of temple is a Buddha Dharma wheel (Buddha dharma wheel is a Buddhist symbol which will turn as the wind blows)
On the two sides of the tower are two quadrilateral temples, placed are two steles to record the architectural history of the tower as well as the poems composed by King Thieu Tri.
Once entering is two hexagonal houses:
– a hexagonal house places a stele on the back of a huge stone turtle symbolizing longevity, which is simple but a very beautiful decoration that talks about merit and the construction of architectural works here
– The other house called is “The Bell-House” places a big bell which name “Dai Hong Chung” was casted by Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. It is a sophisticated and sharp carved bell that is a combination of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism with the purpose of praying for a better life, prosperity.
Dai Hung temple
Next is the Dai Hung temple, which is the main temple in the pagoda. It is also a magnificent architectural work that has been restored since 1957. Inside are Buddha statues cast in bronze – in particular, a big bronze picture of Tran Dinh An – a Quang Tri mandarin – who offered it to the pagoda in 1677. It was carved as the moon, sun and stars. There is also a wooden lettering picture painted red and overlaid by gold which was writen by the hand of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu in 1714.
Huong Nguyen Temple, the old temple which was built as a “quadrilateral house” with special architecture. Therefore, it was placed in front of Phuoc Duyen Tower and after the storm in 1904, it was badly damaged and now moved to Di Lac Temple.
Located in the middle of the pagoda is a flower garden, with a rockery of Mr. Dao Tan – the grandfather of Vietnamese traditional singing – ” Hat Tuong”.
One of the most noteworthy things is the old car, which was a devise of the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc has left before himself-embroidery in fire in 1963 was also put in the area of the pagoda.
At the end of the garden is the mausoleum of the late Monk Thich Don Hau, the famous abbot of Thien Mu pagoda.
How to go to Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda is located 5km from Hue city center (10p ride) and there are a lot of options for you to get here:
1, Motorbikes and bicycles:
Because the distance is close to the city center, many people choose a motorbike or a bicycle to visit Thien Mu Pagoda. With the beautiful scenery and the Perfume River along the way, you can enjoy the nice view both enjoy the fresh air and scenery at a slower pace. A highlight is also on this road that is An Hien Garden House, which is also a beautiful and famous destination that you should stop to visit whilst having the chance.
Located in front of Thien Mu Pagoda is a safe and secure parking lot, where you will pay no more than 5.000VND to park your vehicle there.
Motorbike rental prices range from: VND 120,000 – VND 150,000 / motorbike / day (without gasoline) and bicycle from VND 40,000 – VND 50,000 / bicycle / day
Because this road is short, the cost for taxi is not expensive – but you will have to pay extra for the driver to wait for you to visit – one more thing to note that you should to use the map for the driver, so that they can’t take you further afield for a higher fee. Please also note that very few drivers can speak English
Some reliable taxi firms in Hue like:
Mai Linh Taxi: 018.104.22.168.89
Thanh Cong Taxi : 0234 3575 757
Yellow taxi: 022.214.171.124.79
Hoang Sa Taxi : 0126.96.36.199.75
Gili Taxi : 0188.8.131.52.82
Huong Giang Taxi: 0184.108.40.206.78
3, Private cars :
We recommend that when traveling to another country, it is best to take a private car. This option is worth the small extra amount of money you will pay to depart at your own time, have an experiecned English speaking driver and also a modern vehicle with air-conditioning to escape the extreme heat or rain. There is also no time limit on how long you spend, the driver is always willing to cater to your needs. The cars are also equipped with Wi-Fi for your convenience. If satisfied with the service by the end, you can tip the driver a small amount to thank him for his service.
Extra tip: If you are taking the time to rent a private car, it is best to plan 2-3 destinations so that you can enjoy the service whilst visiting all of the most notable places in Hue city that cannot be missed.
4, Dragon boat:
A special and interesting thing that not everyone knows is you can visit Thien Mu Pagoda by Dragon boat along the Perfume River.
From Thien Mu Boat station , you only need 1 minute to reach Thien Mu Pagoda. Usually, you will start from Toa Kham boat station, and take about 45 minutes to reach Thien Mu Pagoda. You will then surely surprise because 45p for 5km is quite a lot, but Dragon Boat is always slower than car.
You can hire a dragon boat with a fairly cheap fee, where someone will pick you up to the boat station – it is a really unique way to see the peaceful beauty of Hue city along the 2 banks of Huong river.
On the boat, they offer souvenirs for tourists that are all representing Hue city.
5, Take the Hue City tour:
Traveling by tour is a very interesting combination between Dragon boat and Car to visit all the beautiful and famous places in Hue city. With a cost that is very affordable, it also includes lunch, transfer, dragon boat, tickets and the tour guides.
Hue city tour has 2 options: Deluxe Group and Big Group, but we recommend that you choose deluxe group for the following reasons:
– Deluxe group is limited to 12pax per group, which is a small group tour
– Because it is a small group, the guide has more time to dedicate to the guests
– They will explain clearly and you can be ask more questions when you choose the small group
– Time to visit each place will also be longer
– The price for tickets will be minimum (combo ticket)
Please also remember to dress politely and formally when visiting Thien Mu Pagoda!
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