Jade Emperor Pagoda (or Tortoise Pagoda)

Dating back more than 100 years, the Emperor Jade Pagoda (or Tortoise Pagoda) is one of the five most important pagodas in Buddhist life in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

 

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The Emperor Jade Pagoda, commonly known as the Tortoise Pagoda, is one of Ho Chi Minh City's five most prominent shrines. This pagoda, built around the turn of the century by a group of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, is a superb example of the Mahayanist branch of Buddhism, which is extensively followed in Vietnam.

The Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang, also known as the "God of the Heavens," reigns supreme in the main hall. The Emperor, with the help of two assistants, decides who is allowed to reach this upper realm. Those who fail to pass through this gate will be confronted on the left by the terrifying "God of Hell," who will consign sinners to one of the ten levels of hell. The exquisite sculptures on the temple wall, portraying many types of penalties that await transgressors, depict life in purgatory in a stunning, if somewhat brutal, way.

 

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In a separate hall, the goddess of fertility, Kim Hua, flanked by representations of women and little children, bestows blessings on childless couples who come here to pray for a child. Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, has an altar in a room on the top floor, which is a very important feature of any Taoist temple.

The Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and operational shrine that is frequently visited by residents who come to worship, make votive floral offerings, light candles, and joss sticks. The temple can get crowded and claustrophobic as worshipers come and depart. It's poorly lighted, and the small corridors packed with smoke give the place an eerie feel, adding to its allure.

 

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In front of the temple, there is an overcrowded tortoise pond, and feeding the animals is regarded as part of the merit-making and temple-going ceremonies.

Opening hours: every day, 08:00 – 17:00.

Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Remarks: There is no entrance fee or visitor ticket, but visitors can make donations.

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