One Pillar Pagoda - A hundred-year-old lotus of Hanoi capital
One across somewhere in Hanoi city, you will easily catch the sight of a symbol of a small temple, that is One Pillar Pagoda. Silently lies within the heart of Vietnam, the One Pillar Pagoda is considered one of the must-to-go tourist attractions in Hanoi by those who are fascinated with Vietnamese culture and history in general and Buddhism in particular.
The unique pagoda is located in the western part of the city, near Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Ong Ich Khiem Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
Legendary story and its formation
The pagoda was constructed in 1049 under orders of Emperor Ly Thai Tong. The construction of the pagoda was inspired by a dream of the Emperor. A story noted in an official historical text reveals that one night he saw Quan Am Bodhisattva sitting on a lotus and asked him to come up. His dream is followed by the birth of his baby son; then he was advised to build a pagoda by a Buddhist priest to pray to Quan Am Bodhisattva for a long and successful sovereignty.
Landscape and Construction
Besides its spiritual meaning, the unique construction of the pagoda also makes it a popular tourist attraction. Its construction is a creative combination of a spatial structure from bottom to top including stone sculpture, painting and other traditional art. The combination is highly enhancing by the poetically romantic imagination of a lotus with perfects measures of architectural structure of wood and stone. It is unique that the little temple is built on a single stone pillar and supported by surroundings with pond and trees which creates closeness and purity. The tiny square pond below represents land according to Vietnamese belief from which the lotus-shaped temple rises; this has a lofty meaning of compassion enlightening the world. The shrine inside the pagoda is dedicated to the Vietnamese Buddhist deity Quan Am with her effigy nestled inside the tiny three square meters temple.
As time went by, the pagoda succumbed to many ravages caused by the colonial powers. In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from Vietnam after the First Indochina War, and it was rebuilt afterwards. What you see today of the pagoda is a new form recovered in 1955 when it was refurbished with a concrete pillar from its remnants by the Vietnamese government. Today's structure can be just called the replica of the original pagoda, which was a large building. Locals believe that if you pray here, it will invoke well-beings and prosperity. Another point of interest is a bo tree that grows behind the pagoda which legend state is an offshoot of the one under which Buddha became enlightened - the tree was given as a gift from India in 1958. Before you leave the pagoda also take time to visit the Dien Huu Pagoda which is located close by in a courtyard full of exquisite bonsai trees.
One Pillar Pagoda is chosen as one of the city’s symbols; besides, its image appears on the back of 5000 Vietnam dong mental coin.
Opening Hours: Entrance is free and the pagoda is open daily from 08:00-17:00 with refreshments available at a stand nearby so you can sit and relax in the surrounding gardens.