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Vietnam Hanoi temples and pagodas

Quán Thánh Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Ly Quoc Su Pagoda

Wider Hanoi 7th August

We had the day to ourselves today, so decided to go for a tour around a wider part of tourist Hanoi. We left the Golden Silk (Hang Bai) to the left for a change, onto Hang Bong to a large intersection, then down Dien Bien Phu. This long road was a pleasant walk past the Lenin Statue (left) and the Vietnamese Military History Museum (right).
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We could see the HCM mausoleum from here, but could we find an entrance? We walked 2⁄3 of the way around before we found an entrance with a long queue. This must be it we thought, and since the queue was moving fairly fast we joined it. Just as we got to the entrance a lady said no cameras and we twigged it was the queue to see the embalmed body of HCM. No thanks!
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We left the queue, filled with reverential Vietnamese, and found a second entrance to the park only with no queue. From here we could go in, see Ho Chi Minh’s cars, wander the gardens and even get to One Pillar Pagoda (for free). The mausoleum exterior, which was all we’d wanted to visit, was also accessible. We left out of a second gateway and walked around to the entrance (paid) to the Botanical Gardens for a wander, a shady rest and a nice view. While Steve sat and watched the world’s largest rats hoover up the bird food on what we dubbed Rat Island, I went to see HCM’s stilt house which was way more interesting than a pickled body. The gardens were very attractive and almost empty, so we wandered along the ponds to the far entrance, where we exited and walked up to Quán Thánh Temple.
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Quán Thánh Temple, formerly Trấn Vũ Temple, is an 11th century Taoist temple dedicated to Xuan Wu, or Trấn Vũ in Vietnamese, one of the principal deities in Taoism. As one of the Four Sacred Temples of the capital, Quan Thánh Temple is located near West Lake in a ward of same name, Quán Thánh Ward, and is one of the leading tourist attractions in Hanoi. Legend has it that Quán Thánh Temple was established during the reign of Emperor Lý Thái Tổ (1010–28) and was dedicated to Trấn Vũ, Deity of the North in Taoism, whose symbols of power are the serpent and turtle. It is one of the Four Sacred Temples built in four directions to protect the capital from malevolent spirits. During its long history, Quán Thánh Temple has been renovated several times, most recently in 1893 when the principal gate and the shrine were redone, so the architecture is a mixture of many different styles. The main features are a large yard shaded by a giant banyan tree and a shrine that contains the famous bronze statue of Trấn Vũ. 1677 during the reign of Lê Huy Tông, artisans from the nearby village of Ngũ Xã offered a very large statue of Trấn Vũ in black bronze 4 m high, 3,600 kg and depicts Trấn Vũ as a deity with his two symbolic animals, serpent and turtle. A master craftsman Trùm Trọng has his own statue in Quan Thanh Temple placed alongside. The main shrine has a valuable collection of ancient texts from the 17/18th century. After each restoration, a stele was kept in temple for the record; the oldest one dated 1677. Because of the famous statue, Quán Thánh Temple was named by the French as Big Buddha Pagoda.
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Leaving this temple, we walked 1 minute further to reach West Lake. We were thirsty now, so stopped in the floating Highland Coffee (nothing to do with Scotland!) for a smoothie and a break. The cafe was filled with locals enjoying the free wi-fi but we could not get it to work. As we left we walked across the tree-lined banks of West Lake to get to Tran Quoc Temple with its turtle sellers outside. It looks like they (all women) catch small turtles from the lake, then one purchases the turtle and releases it back to the lake (for good luck) and then, presumably, it gets caught all over again.
Chùa Trấn Quốc (or Tran Quoc Pagoda) is located on the east side of dazzling West Lake, on Thanh Nien Road. Particularly, it is positioned on an island linked by a bridge to the causeway between the two most romantic lakes of Hanoi: West Lake and Truc Bach Lake. The construction of the pagoda started in 541 and was completed in 545 under the reign of King Ly Nam De (544-548) under its original name of Khai Quoc (National Founder). It was initially built on the bank of the Red River (then where West Lake and the Red River met) until the early 17th century. In the 15th century, during Le Thai Tong’s reign, it was renamed An Quoc (Peaceful country). Under the reign of King Le Kinh Tong (1600-1618), the pagoda was moved to the Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) Islet due to the river bank crumbling and then was renamed Tran Quoc (National Defence) by Le Huy Tong (1681-1705). Tran Quoc is a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism for it is the oldest pagoda and situated in the centre of Hanoi. Tran Quoc Pagoda was built in an intricate way. Behind the shrine is the Buddhist trinity followed by corridors, ten shrines and belfry. Inside the pagoda, there are many valuable statues, such as the red lac statue trimmed with gold of Sakyamouni Buddha's Parinirvana, which is a masterpiece of Vietnamese sculptural art, and lots of ancient stele, one in particular made in 1639 by lau-Nguyen Xuan Chinh, recording the Pagoda's history. The island and pagoda provide a beautiful backdrop, particularly at sunset. Standing at one end of Thanh Nien Road, one can see the towers of the pagoda rising above the lake’s surface. In the pagoda’s garden stands a Bồ Đề (Bodhi) tree, given in 1959 by Indian Prime Minister Razendia Prasat. The plant was grafted from the holy bodhi tree where Sakyamuni sat in zen (meditation) position and achieved enlightenment in India 25 centuries ago. In 1915, due to a serious landslide the government moved the whole pagoda to its present position on Kim Ngư Island (east bank of West Lake). Besides the front gate facing Thanh Nien Road, the complex is designed according to strict rules of Buddhist architecture with many layers of buildings and three main houses called “Tiền Đường” connected with each other to form a Công script. Tran Quoc Pagoda is highlighted by a high stupa erected in 1998 and composed of 11 floors with a height of 15m; each with a vaulted window holding 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. Inside are ancient statues- the outstanding one “Thích ca thập niết bàn”, is called the most beautiful statue of Vietnam.
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As it was lunch we started to meander back towards Hoan Kiem passing Hoe Nhai Pagoda and an elegant rotunda Bot Hang Dau (Hang Dau St). Then down through the shops, past the main train station and back towards Hoan Kiem. We grabbed a street snack before looking in some souvenir and silk shops. Opposite our hotel we found a skinny shop with just the Vietnamese traditional silk costume for me and a second T-shirt for Steve.
Hang Dau is the intersection of the streets: Hang Giay, Quan Thanh, Hang Dau, Hang Cot. This was built on the villages of Fulin (the ancient capital of Ta Tuc) and Nghia Lap (Hau Tuc; later renamed Dong Xuan). Old temples shown traces of this village: Dinh Phuc Lam (No. 2 Gam Street Bridge); Moc Dinh Thi Phuc Lam (worship trees) Temple No. 32, Hang Dau; Dinh Nghia Lap Bach; Tu Nghia Lap Temple. At the intersection of Hang Dau - Nguyen Thiep there was a gate, called Fulin, similar to Quan Chuong gate. This gate bridge was destroyed when the river-rail bridges was built. Hang Dau street, in the days of markets, was a rural outskirt where beans would be sold: green, black, white, soy ... and people in alleys around bought them to turn to tofu or pickled bean sprouts. Hang Dau, under the Nguyen was the boundary between two zones. At the end of the 19th century, Hang Dau had a famous school, the Chrysanthemum, nicknamed for Dr. Le Dinh Duyen (1819-1878). In addition, there are a few nearby buildings near Hang Dau; Hang Dau water tower and Hang Dau gardens.

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Hang Dau water tower is located at the intersection of six streets Hang Dau- Hang-Than-Phan Dinh Phung Quan Thanh-Hang Cot-Hang Giay. The stone water tower was built 1894. It looks like a fortress tower and consists of three floors, cylindrical with a diameter of 19m. The 25m tall building has a cone shaped roof, surrounded by small Gothic window loopholes. In the tower, stone walls are like spokes of a wheel, with doors around. On these walls are corrugated iron water tank towers. Each holds 1.250m3. Water went from here straight into where the French colonial army distributed water to other towns. This water tower was abandoned in 1954. Van Xuan flower garden located on Phan Dinh Phung Street (aka Hang Dau Park) the largest flower gardens, fountains, shady trees, the festival, often overflowing flower market.
Then we went left out of our hotel (Hang Bong, left onto Ly Quoc Su), then after a visit to Ly Quoc Su Pagoda we went to find St. Joseph’s Cathedral (40 Nha Chung St)- a lovely Gothic job dating to 1882.
Ly Quoc Su Pagoda was established in 1131 (Ly Dynasty) and has been renovated many times. The pagoda is dedicated to the Buddhist monk, Nguyen Chi Thanh. He healed King Ly Thanh Tong, who in gratitude entitled him Ly Quoc Su and built a pagoda next to Bao Dien Pagoda. Where Ly Quoc Su lived, teaching medicine and bronze casting (an odd combination). There was a famous Tu Chung bell in the pagoda. We popped along Au Trieu Street, not one of the 36 streets, but interesting because Au Trieu was the nickname of Le Thi Dan, a female revolutionary of the early 20th century. Her nickname, meaning little Trieu in Han language, comes from “Lady Trieu”, a female warrior in 3rd century Vietnam. Au Trieu was a member of the Association for Modernisation and Vietnamese for Eastern Study and died a martyr after being detained by the French.

We went to collect my silk suit, then went for a rest before dinner. I had prebooked an evening meal at The Gourmet Corner Restaurant on the top floor of Hotel Hanoi Elegance Diamond (32 Lo Su Street). Just as well I had booked because there were NO unbooked tables in this bijou restaurant. We sat in a window table and watched the sun go down over Hanoi (from West Lake to Hoan Kiem to the Red River) from the 12th floor. The food was amazing and the service was perfect. http://www.hanoielegancehotel.com/diamond/restaurant.htm
Well sated, we sauntered back to pack for our move to Halong the next day.
The Gourmet Corner Restaurant 32 Lo Su Str., Old Quarter | Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam +84 4 3935 1632 Ranked no.2 in Hanoi Certificate of Excellence 2014Cuisines: Asian, Vietnamese, Fusion
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch Spot, Dinner, Reservations, Delivery, After-hours
Description: Located on the top floor of Elegance Diamond hotel, the Gourmet Corner restaurant and terrace bar boast the finest view of Hanoi from the 12th floor, overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake, the Red River and the ever-growing skyline of Hanoi. A selected menu of authentic Vietnamese food prepared by our experienced 5-star chef, served by a team of attentive waiting staff will savour your taste. Drop by for a drink at the terrace bar to see the panoramic view of the lake, the river in the sunset.

Vietnam’s History
Fourth Chinese domination 1407-27
Following its conquest by the Ming 1406/7, Vietnam became the county of Giao Chỉ (Jiaozhi). There was revolts including those by Trần Ngỗi (1407-1409), a son of the late emperor Trần Nghệ Tông and Trần Quý Khoáng, a nephew.
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Later Lê Dynasty 1428-1788
Lê Thái Tổ and Founding of the Lê Dynasty The founder of the Lê Dynasty was the hero-Emperor Lê Lợi 1428-1433. He was the son of a village leader, born shortly before the Ming conquest. Vietnamese culture was suppressed; resistance was dealt with harshly. Lê Lợi revolted in the Lam Sơn uprising and proclaimed himself Lê Thái Tổ (Founding Emperor) of Vietnam, and was recognised as such by Xuande, Emperor of China.
Lê Thái Tông 1433-1442 was heir to Lê Lợi, but only 11. A relative, Lê Sát, became regent until Lê Thái Tông had him executed. The new Emperor had a weakness for women. He had a scandalous affair with Nguyễn Thị Lộ, the wife of his father's advisor Nguyễn Trãi. Shortly after he died. The court believed he had been poisoned, so Nguyễn Trãi, his wife and their families were executed for treason.
Lê Nhân Tông 1442-1459 was an infant so the real ruler was Trịnh Khả and his mother, Empress Nguyễn Thị Anh. The next 17 years were good for Vietnam until Lê Nhân Tông's brother, Nghi Dân, murdered him. Nghi Dân's rule was brief and he was never officially recognised. Nguyễn Xí and Dinh Liêt killed Nghi Dân and made the son of Lê Thái Tông, Lê Thánh Tông, Emperor at just 17.
Lê Thánh Tông 1460-1497 was the most prominent Lê ruler and a great Emperor. He instituted government/ legal/ land reforms, restarted the exam system for government positions, reduced the power of the noble families and conquered the Cham capital, ending the Champa kingdom. After his death the Dynasty fell into decline. His son, Lê Hiến Tông 1497–1504 was 38, affable and mild-mannered. His third son, Lê Túc Tông 1504–1505, became emperor but fell ill and died 6 months after assuming the throne. Given his older brother's subsequent history of ruthlessness, there is a suspicion that he was in fact murdered. Lê Uy Mục 1505–1509 succeeded his younger half- brother, Lê Túc Tông. He took revenge against those who had barred him from the throne by having them killed. Lê Uy Mục was cruel and sadistic and wasted money. Well aware he was detested, he hired a group of bodyguards, led by Mạc Đăng Dung. Despite this a cousin assassinated the Emperor and proclaimed himself Emperor Lê Tương Dực 1510- 16. Unfortunately he was as bad as Lê Uy Mục. He spent the royal treasury, and raised taxes. In 1516 officials and generals stormed the palace and killed him. Lê Chiêu Tông 1516-22, Lê Cung Hoàng 1521-3 & Civil war 1520-1590. A nephew of Lê Tương Dực, was made emperor Lê Chiêu Tông 1516-1522. As he was young, factions vied for control- one led by Mạc Đăng Dung. His power was resented by the leaders of two noble families in Vietnam: the Nguyễn (under Nguyễn Hoàng Dụ) and the Trịnh (under Trịnh Duy Đại & Trịnh Duy Sản). After several years of tension, the Nguyễn and the Trịnh left the capital Hanoi (Đông Đô) and fled south with the Emperor "under their protection", starting a civil war between the Mạc and the Trịnh/ Nguyễn. Mac Dang Dung declared the Emperor’s younger brother, Emperor Lê Cung Hoàng. Emperor Lê Chiêu Tông was killed in 1522 by Mạc Đăng Dung and the Nguyễn/ Trịnh leaders were executed, leaving Mạc Đăng Dung the most powerful man in Vietnam.
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Vietnamese Cinderella? A widower with a daughter Tam remarried a wicked woman. When a baby girl, Cam, was born her stepmother made Tam live in the dirty and work. She scrubbed floors, cut the wood, feed the animals, cooked, washed up and many other things. Tam worked till her skin became dark and her hair messy. She washed her face until her soft white skin appeared. One day, Tam and Cam went fishing, but Cam stole Tam’s fish. Tam cried, but the Goddess of Mercy appeared, and gave her a small fish with red fins and golden eyes. The Goddess told her to take the fish home, put it in the well at the back of the house, and feed it three times a day. Tam did as she was told but her stepmother killed the fish. The Goddess told her to bury the bones and make a wish. Tam followed the advice and it was not long before she had gold, jewels and beautiful dresses. When Autumn Festival came, Tam was told to stay home and sort out two baskets of black and green beans that her step- mother had mixed up. “Get the work done before you can attend the Festival.” The Goddess used her magic willow branch to turn flies into sparrows, which sorted the beans. Tam dried her tears, and dressed in a glittering blue and silver dress. She looked as beautiful as a princess, and went to the Festival. When Tam realised Cam was staring, she ran away in such a hurry that she dropped one of her slippers. The King made the ladies of the palace try it on, but the slipper was too small. He ordered all the noble women to try it, but the slipper would fit none. In the end, word was sent that the woman who could wear the slipper would become Queen (First Wife). When Tam tried the slipper it fitted perfectly. She became Queen but her stepmother could not bear to see her happy and killed her. Tam’s soul turned into a nightingale, which dwelt in the King’s garden and sang sweet songs. The King listened to her beautiful songs all day. Cam became jealous of the bird, and killed it. Tam became a tree, which had a golden fruit. An old woman picked it and a lady came out. One day the King lost his way. He saw the old woman’s house and went. She offered him tea and betel. The King asked who had made this betel like his dead Queen? He realised it was Tam and they went home. Cam asked Tam how to be white and Tam told her to boil herself. Cam died, as did her mother.
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Posted by PetersF 10:33 Archived in Vietnam Tagged temple vietnam pagoda hanoi

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