One Pillar historical Buddhist Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda, a 1,000-year-old pagoda, is only one of the unusual structures in Hanoi that are well-known. Visitors to the Vietnamese capital are unable to help but ogle its stunning edifice. In addition, the beauty of Vietnamese culture and history is also preserved in this historic pagoda. The One-Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot) is now regarded as one of Hanoi's most attractive architectural ensembles, drawing both local and international travelers.

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The One-Pillar Pagoda Myth

The elderly Emperor Ly Thai To of the Ly dynasty, who was childless, would visit pagodas to ask Buddha for a son. The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who was seated on a large lotus blossom in a lotus pond that was square in shape on the western side of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, delivered the King a baby boy in a dream one night. A few months later, when the Queen gave birth to a boy, the Emperor gave the order to build a pagoda in honor of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara that resembled the lotus seat from his dream and was supported by just one pillar. One legend holds that the pagoda was constructed to resemble a lotus flower emerging from the water.

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The One Pillar Pagoda's Story

In the past, the Ly Dynasty's One-Pillar Pagoda was situated in Thanh Bao Village, Quang Duc District, west of Thang Long Citadel. The pagoda was constructed in the winter of 1049 during the reign of King Ly Thai Tong, who dreamed of seeing the Goddess of Mercy sitting on a lotus throne and escorting him there, according to Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu (A Complete History of Great Vietnam). The king told his mandarins about his dream when he awoke, and one of them believed it was a bad omen. He was urged by monk Thien Tue to construct a pagoda and a tower in the shape of a lotus, much like in his dream. Monks walked around the newly-erected pagoda and recited Buddhist verses as they prayed for the king's long life. This is why the pagoda is also known as Dien Huu (long-lasting happiness and good luck).

The pagoda served as the location for an annual ritual commemorating Buddha Day, or Vesak, under the Ly dynasty. In addition, the king and people went to the pagoda to take part in Buddha-bathing and release rites on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month.

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The pagoda had been restored numerous times before the French colonists demolished it in 1954. The government renovated the pagoda in 1955. The current wood pagoda has a curving top and is shaped like a square with three meters on each side. It was positioned atop a large stone pillar with two blocks that were expertly joined together to simulate a lotus flower growing up out of the square pond. This stone pillar is around 1.2m in diameter and 4m high (the underground portion excluded). A system of wood beams gives the pagoda's construction its strength and elegance, combining in a pleasing way imaginative design and original architecture.

On April 28, 1962, the One-Pillar Pagoda was designated as a historical relic due to its architectural and historical significance. It was listed as Vietnam's most distinctive architectural pagoda in the Vietnamese Guinness Book on May 4, 2006.

One-Pillar Pagoda is currently one of Hanoi's most charming architectural complexes, drawing both local and international visitors in great numbers. The pagoda opens every day at 08:00 to 17:00. It's free to enter.

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