TRấN QUốC PAGODA (Vietnamese : Chùa Trấn Quốc, chữ Hán :
鎭國寺), the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, is located on a small
island near the southeastern shore of
Hanoi 's West Lake ,
The Trấn Quốc
Hanoi is the oldest pagoda in the city,
originally constructed in the sixth century during the reign of
Lý Nam Đế (from 544 until 548), thus giving it an age of
more than 1,450 years. When founded the temple was named Khai Quoc
(National Founding) and was sited on the shores of the Red River,
outside of the Yen Phu Dyke. When confronted with the river's
encroachment, the temple was relocated in 1615 to Kim Ngu (Golden
Fish) islet of Ho Tay (West Lake) where it is now situated. A small
causeway links it to the mainland.
The last major repair to the temple was undertaken in 1815 when the
main sanctuary, reception hall and posterior hall of the dead were
renovated. The pagoda is one of the main parts of the Trấn Quốc
Temple for it holds the important monk's ashes. Most of the pagodas
were made in the 17th century but the tallest pagoda was remade in
2004. The pagodas are red because in Chinese and Vietnamese culture
red symbolizes luck and prosperity.
Monks have lived at the Trấn Quốc
Pagoda for centuries, teaching
the ways of Buddhism to the public. Before the visitors start
arriving, the monks pray at the multiple shrines spread around the
Monks do not get married and therefore do not live with
families at the pagoda. Over the years, the temple was variously named
An Quoc (Pacification of the Realm) and Tran Bac (Guardian of the
North) as well.
There is a great deal of
Buddhist symbolism at the Trấn Quốc
Temple as well. The eight-spoked wheel is the symbol of Buddhism
because it represents the Noble Eight-fold Path. At the Trấn Quốc
Pagoda, there are many lotus flower statues. These symbolize purity of
the mind, body and speech. The lotus flower also symbolizes
enlightenment and achievement. The stone wall at the side of the
pagoda has multiple carvings of lotus flowers engraved in the stone.
The carvings express the beauty of nature in Vietnam.
With its harmonious architecture taking advantage of the watery
landscape, the pagoda is a picturesque attraction. The sunset views
from the temple grounds are renowned.
Among the historic relics are statuary pieces dating to 1639.
On the grounds of Tran Quoc is a
Bodhi tree taken as cutting of the
original tree in
Bodh Gaya ,
India under which the
Buddha sat and
achieved enlightenment. The gift was made in 1959, marking the visit
of the Indian president
Rajendra Prasad .
At the main shrine , the visitors are given incense to be burned.
Visitors to the shrine also give offerings like food or small amounts
of money as a present for the gods to give themselves good luck.
Incense is burned to send wishes to the gods and to receive good luck
Incense is presented in odd numbers because odd numbers are
considered lucky in Chinese and Vietnamese culture. Even numbers such
as the number 4 are considered unlucky because the word 4 sounds like
the word 'death' in Chinese. People present offerings without meat
because the monks that live in Trấn Quốc are vegetarian.
In the Trấn Quốc pagoda they also worship female Buddhas, known
as the "Mothers". Their shrines are in the front of the courtyard. The
green Mother has domain over the mountains and forests. The white
Mother has domain over the water. And lastly the red Mother has domain
over the sky.These are some of the oldest gods or goddesses that have
been worshiped in
Vietnam and were in
Vietnam before the
The worshipers who come inside the temple to pray can come anytime
they want. However, it is especially popular during the 1st month of
Lunar calendar . They pray in many small and large shrines all
around the temple.
* List of Buddhist temples in
* Photos of Tran Quoc Pagoda