Hanoi is the 1000-year-old capital therefore Hanoi is the center of education, culture as well as spiritual with many unique beautiful ancient pagodas and temples. But which is the oldest pagoda among 59 pagodas remain nowadays? The answer is Tran Quoc Pagoda.
History of the oldest pagoda – Tran Quoc Pagoda
Located on a small peninsula on the east side of West Lake Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda was built in 541 under the reign of King Ly Nam De is regarded as the most ancient pagoda in Hanoi with its history spanning more than 1,500 years.
The pagoda was named firstly “Khai Quoc” (Opening a country) between years 544 and 548 and erected on the bank of Red River where then West Lake and the Red River met (within Yen Phu Ward, Tay Ho District now). Up to the 15th century, during King Le Thai Tong reign, it was renamed “An Quoc” in Vietnamese, which means “a peaceful country” in English.
In 1915, because of a serious landslide ingrained into the foundation of the pagoda, the government and people had to move the whole construction to Kim Ngư Island on the East of West Lake, and this is Tran Quoc Pagoda nowadays.
After many changes, the renaming process didn’t stop until it was changed to the name “Tran Quoc Pagoda”, meaning “protecting the country” by King Le Huy Tong (1681-1705).
Through each name of the pagoda, the pagoda witnessed the milestone of the country as well as the wishes of its people visited to its sanctuary everyday.
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Tran Quoc Pagoda – priceless value in daily life
Not only is Tran Quoc Pagoda famous for its historical length but also regarded as a symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism. Behind the worshipping shrine, the Buddhist trinity followed by corridors, there are many valuable statues inside the pagoda.
The most outstanding feature of the pagoda is the precinct which is highlighted by a high stupa erected in 1998. This stupa is involved 11 floors with a height of 15m; each floor has a vaulted window having a statue of Amitabha made from gemstone. On the top stands a nine-storey lotus (Cửu đỉnh liên hoa) and is also gemstone. This stupa is situated symmetrically with the 50-year-old Bodhi tree gifted by former Indian President on the occasion of his visit to Hanoi in 1959. Abbot Thich Thanh Nha explains the meaning of this correlation: “The lotus represent Buddha while the Bodhi is a symbol of supreme knowledge”.
Not only that, Tran Quoc is considered a small museum with many priceless antiques dated back from hundreds to thousands years ago such as worshiping statues in the front house. Among them, the outstanding one is the statue “Thích ca thập niết bàn”, which is evaluated as the most beautiful statue of Vietnam.
With all the historical and architectural values it possesses, Tran Quoc Pagoda is not only worth visiting as a sacred sanctuary of Buddhism attracting but also a destination for cultural explorers to Vietnam.