Tran Quoc Pagoda (Khai Quoc Pagoda)

Undoubtedly, with its history line of more than 1,500 years and impressive spectacle, Tran Quoc pagoda is the most ancient and beautiful pagoda in Hanoi.

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This Buddhist center's construction is a subtle blend of solemn and lovely scenery on the serene and tranquil ambiance of West Lake's surface. Tran Quoc Pagoda attracts many tourists from both inside and outside of Vietnam because of its historical and architectural significance.

Between the years 544 and 548, during the King Ly Nam De Dynasty, the Tran Quoc Pagoda was built on the Red River's shore with the name "Khai Quoc" (Opening a Country) (approximately within Yen Phu Ward, Tay Ho District now). In the 15th century, under the reign of King Le Thai Tong, it was renamed "An Quoc," which means "a pleasant country."

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Due to a catastrophic landslide that engulfed the pagoda's foundation in 1915, the incumbent government and people decided to relocate the entire construction to Kim Nguu Island on the east side of West Lake, which is now the current location of Tran Quoc Pagoda.

During King Le Huy Tong's dynasty, the renaming process continued until it was given the name "Tran Quoc Pagoda," which means "defend the country" (1681–1705). In each name of the pagoda, we can perceive a milestone in the country as well as the hopes of its people tied to this holy sanctuary.

Many kings and lords of Vietnam used to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is known for its beautiful scenery and spiritual sanctuary, especially during festivals, full moon days, or Tet. Despite the fact that the landscape has been altered by development, the pagoda has managed to retain its popularity.

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Aside from the front gate, which faces the congested Thanh Nien Road, the 3,000m2 complex is surrounded by a sliver tide of West Lake and is built according to strict Buddhist architectural rules, with many layers of buildings and three main houses called "Tiền Đường," a house for burning incense, and Thượng Điện. These chambers are interconnected to form the Công script (工).

The Tran Quoc Pagoda's precinct is marked by a tall stupa that was erected in 1998 and can be seen from afar. This stupa has 11 stories and a height of 15 meters; each floor has a vaulted window with a gemstone figure of Amitabha. A nine-story lotus (Cửu thiên liên hoa) rises on top, which is also a gemstone. The 50-year-old Bodhi tree, presented by former Indian President Indira Gandhi during his visit to Hanoi in 1959, is symmetrically placed next to this pagoda. The meaning of this association is explained by Abbot Thich Thanh Nha of Tran Quoc Pagoda: "The lotus represents Buddha, while the Bodhi is a symbol of supreme knowledge."

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Tran Quoc also has a small museum with rare antiquities ranging in age from thousands to hundreds of years old, such as worshiping sculptures at the front house. These statues are all precisely etched and polished by skilled craftsmen, and they all have amazing features. The statue "Thích Ca Nhập Niết Bàn," which is considered the most beautiful statue in Vietnam, stands out among them.

With all of its historical and architectural significance, Tran Quoc Pagoda is not only a must-see for Buddhist pilgrims, but also a must-see for cultural explorers visiting Vietnam.

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