Saigon pagoda gets a facelift to give new home to relics of Buddhist monk who set himself on fire

By Thanh Nguyen   November 17, 2017 | 07:19 pm PT
Take a look at at a 35-ton copper statue in this revamped place of worship. 

The revamped Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda was inaugurated on November 7 and is the new headquarters of Ho Chi Minh city's Buddhist Sangha. Construction work has taken three years so far, and is expected to be completed early next year. 


The complex features an 8000m2 (957 square yards) parking area downstairs, a hall and an office space. 


The highlight of the pagoda is a 13-story tower which will be completed by the 2018 Lunar New Year. "This tower will be used to keep the Śarīra or Buddhist relics of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc, a monk who famously set himself on fire in protest of a religious crackdown by Southern Vietnam in 1963," said Thich Tri Quang, the high priest and head of the management department of HCMC's Buddhist Sanga.  


A traditional dragon carving on the outside of the main tower. 


'This is my first time at the pagoda. I'm astonished by its size and beauty," said Dzung, 63, from Tan Phu District. 


The pagoda is also home to a huge bell which is 2.9m (9.5ft) tall, 1.6m (5.2ft) wide and weighs 3 tons, made by a group of artisans in Hue. The bell features traditional Vietnamese Buddhist symbols. 


Tourists are also in awe of the intricate stairway that connects the different towers. 


The colors of the dragon embossments match the woodwork. 


Inside the main building, a copper statue of Buddha crafted by artisans from the north of the country. The statue weighs 35 tons and is 7.5 meters high. 


The pagoda also houses statues of the 18 Arhats, who are considered the original followers of Buddha and reached the state of Nirvana. 


The main tower has gold-plated embossments that depict Buddha from birth to Nirvana. 


The main gate of Viet Nam Quoc Tu is still under construction. The pagoda was originally built in 1963 after the anti-war struggle against religious policies in Southern Vietnam. After 1975, the size of the pagoda was reduced to 3,700 meter square to leave room for other public constructions. Three years ago, HCMC reassigned the original 7,200m2 lot to the pagoda for reconstruction. 

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