A spiritual high: Tallest bell tower in Saigon

By Quynh Tran   June 18, 2018 | 11:40 am GMT+7

Xa Loi stands out as a pagoda that carries modern achitectural influences.

Xa Loi pagoga is located right at the cross of  Ba Huyen Thanh Quan street and Su Thien Chieu Street (District 3, HCM). The pagoda was built in 1956 within an area of 2,500 square meter. The most noticeable feature is a 32 meter bell tower including 7 floors built in 1960, facing Ba Huyen Thanh Quan street.

The Xa Loi Pagoda stands at the junction of Ba Huyen Thanh Quan and Su Thien Chieu Streets, District 3, HCMC. The pagoda was built in 1956 on an area of 2,500 square meters. Its most noticeable feature is a 32 meter, seven floor bell tower built in 1960, facing Ba Huyen Thanh Quan street.

Until early 21st century, this tower was the highest bell tower in Vietnam. Later, Linh Phuoc pagoda constructed a higher bell tower (37.84 meter). However, Xa Loi tower remains the tallest one in Ho Chi Minh city. Each floor is dedicated to worship one Buddha. Each floor has 4 flat areas and 4 angles, creating an octagonal structure.

Until early 21st century, this tower was the highest bell tower in Vietnam. Later, Linh Phuoc Pagoda in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat constructed a higher bell tower (37.84 meter). However, the Xa Loi tower remains the tallest one in Ho Chi Minh city. Each floor is dedicated to worship one manifestation of the Buddha. Each floor has four flat areas and four angles, creating an octagonal structure.

An old chamber tops the building, where hangs a grand 2-ton bell with 1.2 meter diameter and 1.6 meter height. The bell is made of copper, resembling the design of Thien Mu Pagoda bell. The bell ring is well-known through the old folk The bell ring of Xa Loi pagoda by Vien Chau.

An old chamber atop the tower hosts a grand two-ton bell that has a diameter of 1.2 meters and a height of 1.6 meters. The bell is made of copper, and resembles the design of the bell at the famous Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue.

The pagoda was originally named Chua tho Xa Loi (Xa Loi worship pagoda), which was later shortened to Chua Xa Loi (Xa Loi pagoda).

The pagoda's name translates into the Pagoda of Buddla's Relic.

Xa Loi is the first pagoda in Saigon to be constructed in modern style, with the worshiping place above and preaching hall below. Later, Vinh Nghiem pagoda was also constructed this way. Located on the first floor, the preaching hall can accommodate 400 people. Surrounding this place are the library, the back rooms and dining hall.

Xa Loi is the first pagoda in Saigon to be constructed in a modern style, with the worshiping place above and a hall for sermons below. Later, the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda followed suit. The preaching hall can accommodate 400 people. Surrounding this place are the library, back rooms and a dining hall.

Unlike old pagodas which worship various Buddha, there is only one grand statue of Gautama Buddha in the Main Hall. This statue was crafted by Bien Hoa School of Art, setting the model for Buddha statues in other pagodas. In 1969, the statue was fully gilded with gold.

Unlike old pagodas which worship various Buddha manifestations, there is only one grand statue of the Gautama Buddha in the Main Hall. This statue was crafted by Bien Hoa School of Art, setting the model for Buddha statues in other pagodas. In 1969, the statue was fully gilded with gold.

The walls of the Main Hall are decorated with 15 grand paint-powder pictures. The pictures were painted in 1958, depicting the history of Sakyamuni Buddha from birth to enlightenment and Nirvana.

The walls of the main hall are decorated with 15 grand paint-powder pictures. The pictures were painted in 1958, depicting the history of Sakyamuni Buddha from birth to enlightenment and Nirvana.

Outside on the yard, there is a linden tree brought back from Colombia. Nearby is the statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva molded in 1958.

In the yard outside stands a peepal tree brought from Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the foot of the tree is a statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva consecrated in 1958.

Xa Loi pagoda was also the final resting place of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc after his self-immolation. This action aimed to object to suppression of Buddhism by Vietnam Republic by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. Today, many pictures recording this event are hung around the pagoda.

The Xa Loi pagoda was also the final resting place of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc after his world famous self-immolation to protest the oppression of Buddhists by the U.S.propped Ngo Dinh Diem regime in 1963. The AP photo of the monk sitting in fire won a Pulitzer Prize.

The place is not spacious, but its architectural and historical values make it one of the most remarkable pagodas in Ho Chi Minh city.

While this pagoda's premises are not very spacious, its architectural and historical values give it pride.

 
 
go to top