Thien Mu pagoda


The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady (Vietnamese: Chùa Thiên Mụ; also called Linh Mụ Pagoda) is a historic temple in the city of Huế in Vietnam. Its iconic seven-story pagoda is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the city,[1] and the temple has often been the subject of folk rhymes and ca dao about Huế

The pagoda sits on the Hà Khê hill, in the ward of Hương Long in Huế. It is around 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the Citadel of Huế constructed by the Nguyễn Dynasty and sits on the northern bank of the Perfume River

The oldest pagoda in Hue is Thien Mu Pagoda whose establishment is associated with the early actions of the first Nguyen Lord in Dang Trong (South Vietnam). This legend relates how, when Nguyen Hoang was sent to Thuan Hoa (now Central Vietnam) to rule this area, he himself made a survey of the terrain to choose a site for settling down. As he rode his horse upstream along the Huong River side he saw a small hillock beside the river, whose terrain looked like a dragon turning its head back. This hill was called Ha Khe. The local people told a story that every night an old lady in a red blouse and green trousers appeared here saying that a true Lord would come to this place and build a pagoda for the prosperity of the country. Thus this place became known as Thien Mu Son (Heavenly Lady Mountain).
Thien Mu Pagoda was ranked one of the twenty most beautiful landscapes in Hue with the poem Thien Mu chung thanh, composed by the emperor Thieu Tri, inscribed on the stone stele set near the Pagoda gate. In 1862, during the reign of Tu Duc, who prayed for a child, the Emperor was afraid that the word Thien profaned Heaven because it means heavenly. So Tu Duc renamed the Pagoda as Linh Mu which means Holy Lady. It was not until 1869 that the Emperor allowed the reuse of the old name Thien Mu meaning Heavenly Lady. The Pagoda is still known by both names today.

In 1904, a terrible storm seriously damaged the Pagoda. Many structures were ruined and Huong Nguyen Temple was destroyed. Through many re-constructions and restorations Thien Mu Pagoda still retains valuable architectural structures such as Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hung, Dia Tang and Quan Am temples, the stone steles and bronze bells. Thien Mu Pagoda is also home to many valuable antiques of both historical and artistic value and importance, such as the statures Ho Phap, Thap Vuong, Di Lac Buddha, the three Buddhas symbolizing Past, Present and Future Lives, lacquered boards and panels with parallel texts that mark the glorious periods in history of the Pagoda.


The Pagoda is surrounded with a garden of flowers and plants that are carefully tended every day. There is a bonsai of the ancestor of Vietnam Tuong (Classical drama), Dao Tan, situated next to the car left in 1963 by the Superior Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, before burning himself to protest the policy of Ngo Dinh Diem regime in suppressing Buddhism. At the end of the garden is the Tower of the Superior Buddhist monk Thich Don Hau, a famous head of Thien Mu Pagoda who devoted his whole life to the promotion of Buddhism and the good of society.

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As a fascinating Asian travel destination, Vietnam offers more than just its rich culture and places of interest. It boosts ancient traditions dated back to hundred years and histo...