When it comes to the famous ancient temples of Hue, one cannot miss Thien Mu Pagoda. With centuries-old history and stunning architecture, Thien Mu Pagoda has never lost its charm with international and domestic tourists.
Located on the banks of the winding Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda’s ancient architecture adds more charm to the beautiful natural scenery. The sound of Thien Mu’s bell is compared to the soul of Hue echoing along the Perfume River, evoking nostalgia and affection in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Let’s explore with Klook Vietnam the interesting things revolving around Thien Mu Pagoda from A to Z!
What Do You Know About Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue?
The beautiful and peaceful former imperial capital Hue is home to many famous historical relics and temples in Vietnam. The oldest temple that attracts many tourists is Thien Mu Pagoda. Located in a charming countryside area, Thien Mu Pagoda is a source of inspiration for many works of poetry, music, and art. The beauty of the temple is created from the harmonious blend of historical, spiritual, and artistic values. Thien Mu Pagoda is on the list of must-see destinations in Hue.
The prominent highlight of Thien Mu Pagoda is the Phuoc Duyen Tower. The tower was built in front of the temple, with a height of 21 meters and 7 tiers. Each tier has a Buddha statue, and the top tier has a golden Buddha statue. Phuoc Duyen Tower is an essential architectural feature of Thien Mu Pagoda, visible from afar.
Where is Thien Mu Pagoda?
The pagoda is located on Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Street, Ha Khe Hill, Huong Long Ward, on the north bank of the Perfume River, about 5km from the center of Hue city. It was officially established during the reign of Nguyen Hoang – the first Nguyen lord of Southern Vietnam.
Guide to visiting Thien Mu Pagoda.
There are several ways to get to Thien Mu Pagoda:
- By boat: Take a dragon boat ride along the Perfume River for about 30 minutes to reach Thien Mu Pagoda, and enjoy the cool breeze and beautiful scenery along the riverbank.
- By private car with driver: Drive along Kim Long Street and turn onto Nguyen Phuc Chu Street. It takes about 10 minutes and covers 2 kilometers from the city center.
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- By bicycle: Rent a bicycle to ride to Thien Mu Pagoda, as the road is beautiful and relatively short. You can also combine your visit to Thien Mu Pagoda with a trip to Hue Imperial City and Huyen Khong Pagoda, which are just a few kilometers away. However, it is best to ride early in the morning to avoid the intense midday sun and be mindful of the busy traffic on the roads.
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Opening hours of Thien Mu Pagoda.
Thien Mu Pagoda is open all day so you can visit at your leisure. If you want to take beautiful photos and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the pagoda, the best time is from 06:00 to 08:00 when there are fewer crowds. And if you want to admire the romantic sunset on the tranquil Huong River, you should be there around 17:00 to 18:00 in the afternoon!
Ticket Prices for Thien Mu Pagoda.
- Admission to Thien Mu Pagoda is completely free.
You can also visit some nearby attractions and historical sites around Thien Mu Pagoda in your itinerary. The prices for these places range from 10,000 VND to 100,000 VND per person per visit.
History of Thien Mu Pagoda.
Thien Mu Pagoda is the earliest built pagoda in Hue city. According to legend, when Nguyen Hoang visited Thượng Hòa village in Quang Nam province, he personally came to survey the terrain to establish the Nguyen family’s dynasty. During a horse ride along the Huong River to its source, Nguyen Hoang came across a small hill by the Huong River named Ha Khe. Realizing that the terrain resembled a dragon turning its head, in 1601, he decided to build a temple on the hill facing the Huong River and named it Thien Mu. In 1665, Nguyen Phuc Tan asked to renovate the pagoda, and the architectural scale was smaller.
Nguyen Phuc Chu requested the casting of a large bronze bell weighing 3285 pounds, a valuable work of art called Dai Hong Chung Bell. The sound of the bell from the pagoda brought peace to the hearts of the people of Hue in 1710. Then, in 1714, Nguyen Phuc Chu continued to build many magnificent works, including Tam Quan Gate, Thien Vuong, Ngoc Hoang, Thap Vuong, Tang Kinh, and others.
In 1844, King Thieu Tri built the Tu Nhan Tower, later renamed Phuoc Duyen Tower, with bricks and each floor worshiping a Buddha statue. The king also built the Huong Nguyen Temple, with three aisles in front of the tower. On both sides were two stone steles inscribed with the architecture of Phuoc Duyen, Huong Nguyen, and many poems by King Thieu Tri. In the early 20th century, the pagoda was severely damaged by the Giap Thin storm (1904).
When Was Thien Mu Pagoda Built?
Thien Mu Pagoda was built in 1601, the year of Tân Sửu, during the reign of Nguyen Hoang. Under the reign of Quoc To Nguyen Phuc Chu (1691 – 1725), as Buddhism developed and flourished in southern Vietnam, he personally wrote an inscription and engraved it on a large stele to commemorate the construction of the architectural works here. The people went to China to buy over 1,000 plates…
Tam Quan Gate of Thien Mu Pagoda
Tam Quan Gate is the first point you pass through when you step into Thien Mu Pagoda. This is the main gate that leads straight into the temple. The gate has a total of 2 floors, 8 roofs and 3 entrances with sturdy red wooden doors. Around the gate are statues of the Hộ Pháp gods guarding the peace of the temple.
Phuoc Duyen Tower of Thien Mu Pagoda
Phuoc Duyen Tower has become a famous symbol associated with Thien Mu Pagoda. Built before the temple in 1984, this tower is 21 meters high and has 7 floors. Each floor has a Buddha statue. Inside, there is a spiral staircase leading to the top floor, where there used to be a golden Buddha statue.
In front of the tower is the Huong Nguyen Temple. The storm in 1904 heavily damaged the temple and many architectural works, including Huong Nguyen Temple was completely collapsed (now still has traces). In 1907, King Thanh Thai had it rebuilt, but the temple no longer retained its original large shape. On both sides of the tower are two octagonal shapes, bearing two Thiệu Trị steles. Inside, there are two hexagonal-shaped houses, a stele house and a bell tower dedicated to Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu.
Dia Tang Temple
Dai Tang Temple is located behind Dai Hung Temple, separated by a wide courtyard with many ornamental trees. It is built on the site of the old, expansive Di Lac Pagoda. The road to the left of Dai Hung leads inside the temple.
Originally built to worship Guan Gong (since 1907), it was quite common in Vietnamese temples of the past, due to the influence of Chinese Buddhism. Even today, major temples in Hue still worship Guan Gong. It is believed that after his death, Guan Gong possessed extraordinary powers, able to perceive both good and bad omens in the future. Therefore, the temple is a place of worship not only for Buddha, but also for the image of Guan Gong.
Dai Hung Temple
This is the main temple in Thien Mu Pagoda and a magnificent architectural work. In the restoration in 1957, all columns, rafters, walls, and pedestals… were rebuilt with concrete and covered with a layer of fake wood paint. In addition to the bronze Buddha statue, there is also a large bronze statue carved in the shape of the moon face with a line of words showing that this statue was dedicated to the temple by Tran Dinh An. Inside the temple, there is a statue of Buddha Di Lặc. It is said that Buddha has ears to listen to the suffering of the world, a belly to tolerate the world, and a mouth wide enough to laugh at the world.
Far away from the Di Lặc statue is the three Buddhas in the middle of the temple. On both sides are Boddhisattva and Pho Hien. Along the path behind the garden, there is a display room for photos and the car of Venerable Thich Quang Duc, who self-immolated in 1963 to protest the oppressive regime of Buddhism. Next is the tomb of Thich Don Hau – He was the vice chairman of the Patriotic Buddhist Association during the anti-American period and had merit in promoting Buddhism in Hue as well as in Vietnam.
The Great Bell of Thien Mu Pagoda
In 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu requested the casting of the “Great Bell of Thien Mu” to worship the country’s duke. Despite being 300 years old, the Great Bell of Thien Mu still retains its original solemn beauty. Standing at 2.5 meters, the bell is located within the grounds of Thien Mu Pagoda. The bell is inscribed with the words “Great Bell of Thien Mu,” weighing 3,285 kilograms and with the words of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu wishing for good weather and peace for the nation and its people, who are all Buddhists. The decorative patterns on the Great Bell of Thien Mu are extremely delicate and reflect a high level of artistic skill. The motifs are symmetrically arranged and there are eight different ways in which the letters on the bell are written. It is said that the Great Bell of Thien Mu in Thien Mu Pagoda was the largest treasure in Hue at that time. Therefore, the people of Hue are very proud of the bell.
The Vintage Austin Westminster Car
In Thien Mu Pagoda, there is a vintage car carefully preserved by the people. Visitors from far and wide or foreign tourists should take some time to admire the car which bears the marks of the past, the Austin Westminster car which was used in the procession to accompany and bid farewell to Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc, who set himself on fire on June 11, 1963 to protest against the Diem regime.
In 1963, the political atmosphere in the South changed, and there seemed to be no way out for peace under the Diem Government. Gunfire erupted, and flames broke out everywhere to suppress communists and Buddhists. During that time, Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc, the abbot of An Quang Pagoda, could not bear to see Buddhists being oppressed in a pool of blood and decided to self-immolate to protest against the brutal actions of the Diem-Nhu regime.
Nearly half a century has passed, but the Austin Westminster car still retains its modern, convenient, and luxurious appearance. However, over time, it has become old and rusted. Nevertheless, the car with license plate DBA 599 will always be associated with the heroic event of the self-immolation of the patriotic Master Thich Quang Duc.
Thien Mu Pagoda Festival, Hue.
You can visit Thien Mu Pagoda on the occasion of Lunar New Year or the commemoration of Buddha’s Birthday, and the full moon day, there will be many big festivals.
The weather is also most pleasant in Hue from January to February. This is the ideal time for you to visit Thien Mu Pagoda. If you want to admire Thien Mu Pagoda during the flowering season, you can visit in May or June.
Travel Tips to Thien Mu Pagoda.
As this is a temple historic site, when visiting, please dress modestly, politely, and discreetly.
- Walk lightly, speak softly, avoid causing noise, and using vulgar language within the temple grounds, which can affect the sacred and serene atmosphere.
- There are many souvenir shops in the temple that sell Hue’s souvenirs such as conical hats, ao dai, jewelry, and souvenirs. You can freely choose and negotiate a reasonable price. It’s best to avoid buying outside the temple!
Famous Tourist Attractions Near Thien Mu Pagoda.
There are many famous tourist attractions near Thien Mu Pagoda that you can combine in your itinerary to explore Thien Mu Pagoda, such as Hon Chen Palace, Minh Mang Tomb, An Hien Garden House, Imperial City of Hue, …