Tran Quoc Pagoda is a small Buddhist temple located on the south side of West Lake in Hanoi, which is cconsidered by many to be one of the most beautiful temples in Vietnam.
- Opening hours: 08:00 to 16:00 every day
- Entrance fee: Free
About the Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda is located slightly over 2 km walking distance from Hanoi’s Old Quarter and doesn’t receive any many foreign visitors as it would if it were closer. You need to take a taxi or motorbike taxi to reach Tran Quoc Pagoda.
Tran Quoc Pagoda does, however, receive lots of Vietnamese visitors particularly on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month and during national holidays in Vietnam.
History of Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda is believed to be the oldest surviving Buddhist temple in Hanoi. The original temple was completed in 545. The temple was, however, relocated from the banks of the Red River to its current located on West Lake in 1615. This makes Tran Quoc Pagoda between 1,400 and 1,500 years old depending on when you count back to. This is even older than the Bach Ma Temple located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
This temple has had many different names over the years. The current name Tran Quoc Pagoda, which means ‘Temple of National Defence’, was settled upon in the reign of Emperor of King Le Kinh Tong, who ruled from 1680 to 1705.
Stupa at Tran Quoc Pagoda
The most striking feature of Tran Quoc Pagoda, its 15 metre tall stupa, is fairly recent addition to the temple constructed in 1998.
The stupa at Tran Quoc Pagoda has 11 storeys. Each level of the stupa has six niches. which is one on each face of the hexagonal tower. Within each niche is a statue of the Buddha Amitabha. In some branches of Buddhism the Buddha Amitabha is believed to reside within a ‘pure land’ where people go when they are freed from the cycle of death and reincarnation.
Shrine at Tran Quoc Pagoda
There are lots of shrines at Tran Quoc Pagoda. The Lord Buddha is worshipped alongside gods associated with Taoism, and also Mẫu, which are goddesses in Vietnam folk religion.
There are three main buildings, beside the stupa at Tran Quoc Pagoda:
- Tien Duong: Main shrine hall.
- Nha To: Hall dedicated to ancestor worship, particularly former monks at the temple.
- Nha Bia: Hall holding 14 engravings relating to the renovation of the temple in the early 19th Century.
The Tien Duong Building at Tran Quoc Pagoda has a number of different shrines. Exactly who the statues represent is a matter of debate.
Gardens at Tran Quoc Pagoda
Tran Quoc Pagoda has beautiful gardens at the side and rear of the temple. Despite the large numbers of tourists, these gardens are a peaceful place to sit and look out across the vast West Lake.
The most famous feature of the gardens at Tran Quoc Pagoda is the bodhi tree grown from a cutting from a descendant of the original bodhi tree in Bodhgaya in India under which the Lord Buddha is believed to have mediated to reach enlightenment. The cutting was presented to the temple in 1959 by the President of India.
Location of Tran Quoc Pagoda
The Tran Quoc Pagoda is located 15.9 km by road from Hanoi Railway Station.