Thien Mu Pagoda is the only pagoda in Vietnam rank as one of the best pagodas and temples in Asia by Lonely Planet. It is located in Hue Ancient City and regarded as an unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital. The pagoda sits on the Hà Khê hill, in the ward of Hương Long in Huế. It is around 3 km from the Citadel of Huế constructed by the Nguyễn Dynasty and sits on the northern bank of the Huong River.
Thien Mu Pagoda Built in 1601 on the order of the first Nguyen lords, Nguyen Hoang, who at that time was the governor of Thuan Hoa (now known as Huế). According to the royal annals, Hoang while touring the vicinity was told of the local legend in which an old lady, known as Thien Mu (literally “celestial lady”), dressed in red and blue sat at the site, rubbing her cheeks. She foretold that a lord would come and erect a pagoda on the hill to pray for the country’s prosperity. She then vanished after making her prophecy. Upon hearing this, Hoang ordered the construction of a temple at the site, thus the beginning of Thien Mu Tu. Thien Mu was later on restored by several kings of Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Trieu Thi, Thai Thanh.
Thien Mu is not a big pagoda, but it has very outstanding architecture and location. Standing on a small hill right beside Huong River, it is feature by Phuoc Duyen Tower which is the most notable architecture in Vietnam’s traditional style. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (2m high), which is dedicated to a Buddha who appeared in human form. It is the highest stupa in Vietnam, and is often the subject of folk rhymes and cadao about Hue, such is its iconic status and association with the city. To the left of the tower is a pavilion sheltering an enormous bell. The bell, called Dai Hong Chung, was cast in 1710 by Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. It is famous for the great size, which is 2.5m high and 3,285 kg weigh. It is considered to be an outstanding achievement of 18th century bronze casting. To the right of the tower is a pavillion containing a stela dated from 1715. It is set on the back of a massive marble turtle, a symbol of longevity, and is 2.58 m high.
Besides, Thien Mu also has a lot of unique Buddhism architectures, monastic buildings where the monks live, some of historical relics from the war and a beautiful green garden and casuarinas tree forest surrounding. Visiting Thien Mu, you also have chance to enjoy an amazing view of Huong River, especially in sunset.
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