One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi

The One Pillar Pagoda is a small, but highly revered, temple near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. Its free to enter the grounds of the temple and easy to combine a visit to the One Pillar Pagoda with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Presidential Palace.

One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi

The original One Pillar Pagoda was constructed in 1049. The temple was destroyed by the departing French colonialists in 1954, presumably because they were unhappy with being forced to leave by the Vietnamese nationalists led by Ho Chi Minh. Work to rebuild the temple started in the late 1950s and was completed by the early 1960s.

About the One Pillar Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda is a wooden temple which sits on top of a concrete column in the middle of a pond.

Lotus Flower

The pond is said to have originally had lotus flowers growing in it, and the pagoda is intended to resemble a lotus flower with the pillar being the stem and the temple on top being the flower. Inside the wooden top part of the structure is very small shrine to Quan Am, who is worshipped in the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition as something akin to the goddess of compassion.

There is a small shrine inside the Pagoda
There is a small shrine inside the Pagoda
Importance in Vietnamese Culture

Like many old temples in Vietnam, such as the Bach Ma Temple also in Hanoi, the temple has its own background story closely related to the mythology which is an integral part of Vietnam culture and tradition. This story is what make the temple so important and there are two versions of it.

One Version of the Legend

One version is that the temple was built was by the Emperor Lý Thái Tông, who reigned from 1028 to 1054, after dream in which the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara gave him a son while seated on a lotus flower. The Emperor had experienced difficulties in producing an heir and when his son was born he built the temple in a pond full of lotus flowers to honour Avalokiteshvara.

Another Version of the Legend

The other version of the story is Emperor Lý Thái Tông had a dream of Quan Am who lead him to a temple which resembled the One Pillar Pagoda and, following the advice of a prominent Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thien Tue, he decided to build the temple which featured in his dream.

Either way the temple is particularly significant to Vietnamese people because of the connection to Emperor Lý Thái Tông, who made significant reforms to the way in which his state was governed and these reforms are generally considered an important step forward in the creation of the Vietnamese nation.

Location of the One Pillar Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda is located at Chùa Một Cột, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam.

Google Map of the One Pillar Pagoda

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