Thien Mu Pagoda is a historic temple in Hue, Vietnam, that is also known as the Temple of the Celestial Lady. It is located on Ha Khe hill, on the north bank of the Perfume River, about 5 kilometers from the Citadel of Hue. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful pagodas in Hue, and has been the subject of many poems and songs.
The pagoda was built in 1601 by the first Nguyen lord, Nguyen Hoang, who was inspired by a local legend about an old lady who appeared on the hill and prophesied that a lord would build a pagoda there for the prosperity of the country. The pagoda was later expanded and renovated by several Nguyen lords and emperors, especially Nguyen Phuc Chu, who added many structures and a giant bell in the 18th century.
The most iconic feature of Thien Mu Pagoda is its seven-story Phuoc Duyen tower, which was built in 1844 by Emperor Thieu Tri. The tower is 21 meters high and has an octagonal shape. Each story is dedicated to a different Buddha. The tower overlooks the Perfume River and is regarded as the unofficial symbol of Hue.
The pagoda complex also includes several halls, shrines, pavilions, gardens and statues. One of the most notable statues is a large stone turtle that holds a stele inscribed with Nguyen Phuc Chu’s writings about the pagoda and Buddhism. Another attraction is the Austin car that belonged to Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk who burned himself to death in Saigon in 1963 to protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. The car was brought to Thien Mu Pagoda as a memorial to his sacrifice.
Thien Mu Pagoda is open daily from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. The entrance is free, but donations are welcome. Visitors can also take a boat trip along the Perfume River to reach the pagoda and enjoy the scenic views. There are many tours that include Thien Mu Pagoda as part of their itinerary, such as city tours, cultural tours or cycling tours.
Some tips for visiting Thien Mu Pagoda are:
- Dress modestly and respectfully, as it is a religious site.
- Remove your shoes before entering any hall or shrine.
- Do not touch or disturb any religious objects or ceremonies.
- Be quiet and courteous to other visitors and monks.
- Do not take photos inside the halls or shrines without permission.
Some prohibitions for visiting Thien Mu Pagoda are:
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol on the premises.
- Do not litter or damage any property.
- Do not feed or touch any animals.
- Do not climb on any structures or statues.
Thien Mu Pagoda is a must-see attraction for anyone who visits Hue. It offers a glimpse into the history, culture and spirituality of Vietnam. It is also a place of peace and beauty, where visitors can admire the architecture, enjoy the nature and learn about Buddhism.