Rising from one pillar in the centre of an elegantly square shaped lotus pond, The One Pillar Pagoda is said to represent a lotus flower growing up out of the water. Built between the years of 1028 and1054 during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai Tong of the Ly Dynasty, the One Pillar Pagoda is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples.
The little temple is constructed from wood based on a single stone pillar crafted into the shape of a lotus blossom and has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1955 when the base was destroyed during the French evacuation.
The pagoda is often used as a symbol for Hanoi and remains one of the city’s most revered sights in a beautifully tranquil garden setting with benches provided for comfortable contemplation. The shrine inside the pagoda is dedicated to the Vietnamese Buddhist deity Quan Am with her effigy nestled inside the tiny three square metres temple.
Legend claims that The One Pillar Pagoda was built following a dream by the fatherless emperor in which the enlightened being Avalokiteshvara gave him a baby son resting on a lotus flower. Emperor Ly Thai Tong commissioned the pagoda to be created in resemblance of this lotus flower which is also the Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. The Emperor remained in gratitude to the bodhisattva and subsequently to to Quan Am, the Goddess of Mercy following the birth of his son. Inside the temple a richly gilded statue of Quan Am takes centre place at the main altar.
After the temple was completed loyal followers flocked daily to give thanks and support to the emperor, praying to Quan Am for a long and successful sovereignty. Today, the concrete pillar that supports the tiny wooden pagoda is a replacement for the original one which was blown up by the departing French, it remains unclear how much of the wooden temple is the original one.
Another point of interest is a bo tree that grows behind the pagoda which legend state is an offshoot of the one under which Buddha became enlightened – the tree was given as a gift from India in 1958. Before you leave the pagoda also take time to visit the Dien Huu Pagoda which is located close by in a courtyard full of exquisite bonsai trees.
Opening Hours: Entrance is free and the pagoda is open daily from 08:00-17:00 with refreshments available at a stand nearby so you can sit and relax in the surrounding gardens.
Location: The One Pillar Pagoda is situated in the park behind the museum near Ba Dinh Square at Ong Ich Kiem Street in the Ba Dinh District.
Remarks: Appropriate attire should be worn if you are entering the temple; prayers take place continuously throughout the day. Praying at The One Pillar Pagoda is said to bring about blessings of fertility and health.