5 Vietnam pagodas that have catapulted to global fame

By Nguyen Quy   October 13, 2019 | 07:03 pm GMT+7
5 Vietnam pagodas that have catapulted to global fame

Like neighbors Thailand and Myanmar, Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist nation, and some of its pagodas are drawing international attention.

Buu Long Pagoda, Saigon

Buu Long Pagoda in District 9 on the outskirts of HCMC attracts Buddhist worshipers due to its unique architecture. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Tran.

Buu Long Pagoda in District 9 of HCMC attracts Buddhist worshipers due to its unique architecture. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Tran.

Buu Long Pagoda in District 9 on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City was voted among the "20 most beautiful pagodas" by National Geographic last August and got rave reviews from global travel sites including TripAdvisor for its striking architecture. 

NatGeo praised the "carved dragons that curve down the temple stairs and a turquoise pool reflecting the temple’s white walls and golden spires."

The pagoda was built in 1942 and underwent a major restoration in 2007. Its architecture now carries influences from India and Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

One interesting feature of Buu Long is that, as a Theravada Buddhist pagoda, it does not allow visitors to burn incense or candles. Only the Buddha is worshiped here, unlike most other Vietnamese pagodas where many deities, including those from other countries, are worshipped.

Located on the banks of the Dong Nai River and surrounded by a thick, shady grove, the pagoda complex offers a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. 

An aerial view of Buu Long Pagoda in District 9. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Minh. 

An aerial view of Buu Long Pagoda in District 9, HCMC. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Minh. 

The place houses ten monks and 30 nuns who spend their days meditating, chanting and maintaining the 10-hectare property. 

Jade Emperor Pagoda, Saigon

Nestling in the small, nondescript Mai Thi Luu Street in District 1 is Phuoc Hai Tu, known as the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Built between 1892 and 1900 in honor of the supreme Tao God in Chinese style with colorful decorative motifs, the pagoda has brick walls, yin-yang roof tiles and mosaic ceramic idols on its roof and gables.

People burn incenses inside the Jade Emperor Pagoda in the heart of Saigon. Photo by Shutterstock/Minh Tran. 

People burn incenses inside the Jade Emperor Pagoda in the heart of Saigon. Photo by Shutterstock/Minh Tran. 

Many popular travel magazines around the world have been talking it up since then U.S. President Barack Obama visited it in 2016 while on a visit to the country. 

U.K. travel magazine Lonely Planet recommended the Jade Emperor Pagoda as a must-visit pilgrimage site in Vietnam’s southern metropolis.

The pagoda is filled with idols of deities and heroes, some beatific and others less so, from both Buddhist and Taoist legends. An interesting feature is that the idols are made from reinforced papier mâché and wood.

The focal point inside is the Jade Emperor, who is surrounded by reverential minor deities and heroes. He is the King of Heaven, the one who decides who is allowed entry into heaven and who is not.

There is an altar for Kim Hoa Thanh Mau, the Goddess of Childbirth in Taoism and believed to be responsible for pregnancy, delivery and protection of mothers and infants on earth.

The goddess holds a book and a paintbrush indicative of the Chinese practice of recording the birth of a child in the family records.

For long the goddess has been revered by thousands of married couples and childless women across the country in the belief. She is said to have the power to bless infertile couples with children and pregnant women with safe pregnancy and easy delivery.

Tu Van Pagoda, Nha Trang

Situated some 60 kilometers from the central resort town of Nha Trang, Tu Van Pagoda, dubbed ‘Snail’ Pagoda, is less well-known than its neighbor Long Son Pagoda, which is home to the nation’s largest (24-meter) outdoor Buddha idol.

Last month British travel publication Culture Trip described the pagoda as a "true treasure" and exhorted visitors not to miss it.

Bao Tich Tower is made of millions of of coral stones, snail shells and pearl shells piled one another. Photo acquired by VnExpress. 

Bao Tich Tower is made of millions of of coral stones, snail shells and pearl shells. Photo acquired by VnExpress. 

Tu Van Pagoda is a fascinating sight to behold with a unique design that will delight anyone with an affinity for shell collections. It is famed for its Bao Tich tower, a 39-meter-high structure built from millions of coral stones, snail shells and pearl shells piled one on top of another.

In 1995 monks began to build the tower from coral reefs and snail shells along the coast of Cam Ranh, an hour south of Nha Trang Town in Khanh Hoa Province. They built it manually and took five years to complete the unique masterpiece.

Linh Ung-Bai But Pagoda, Da Nang

An aerial view of the Linh Ung-Bai But Pagoda on the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang City. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran. 

An aerial view of the Linh Ung-Bai But Pagoda on the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang City. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran. 

Lonely Planet describes the Linh Ung-Bai But Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula, 10 kilometers from downtown Da Nang, as "a meeting place of heaven and earth’s sacred air and people’s heart."

An image of the 67-meter-tall white Guanyin statue, considered as the highest in Vietnam to date, was named among 100 best travel photos of 2019 in a recent listing by the American news cable network CNN.

The 67 m tall Guanyin Statue on Son Tra Peninsula in the central city of Da Nang. Photo by Shutterstock/Anh Tran. 

The 67m tall Guanyin Statue on Son Tra Peninsula in the central city of Da Nang. Photo by Shutterstock/Anh Tran. 

Legend has it that a Buddha idol drifted downstream to the region and ran aground on a sandy embankment in the 19th century during the reign of King Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last royal family (1802-1945).

Local fishermen thought it was a good omen and built a small pagoda to worship the statue. During the Vietnam War, the pagoda and the Buddha statue were almost totally destroyed.

The sandbank where the statue drifted was then named Bai But (Buddha's Sanctuary) and the Linh Ung Pagoda was built there.

Construction of the pagoda started in 2004 and took six years later. Linh Ung Pagoda is considered a symbol of the rise of Vietnamese Buddhism in the 21st century.

Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, was built on a small peninsula on the east side of the West Lake. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran. 

Tran Quoc Pagoda was built on a small peninsula on the West Lake. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran. 

In 2016 U.S. news site Thrillist called Tran Quoc Pagoda in the capital city one of 11 most "stunningly gorgeous" pagodas around the world. A year later U.K. travel magazine Wanderlust listed it among the world’s "10 incredibly beautiful pagodas."

Last August NatGeo placed the pagoda ninth in a list of 20 most beautiful pilgrimage sites in the world.

Tran Quoc Pagoda, nearly 1,500 years old, stands on a small peninsula on the easternside of the West Lake and is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. 

Adding to its architectural beauty and historical significance is a bodhi tree said to have grown from the original tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment in India. The tree was presented by India’s first president, Dr Rajendra Prasad, to President Ho Chi Minh during the former’s visit to Hanoi in 1959.

The pagoda also has several priceless idols in the front yard. Hundreds of years old, they were carved and polished meticulously by highly skilled craftsmen.

 
 
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