Thien Mu Pagoda: the oldest temple in Hue, Vietnam

Hue has many attractive monuments and famous ancient temples; Thien Mu Pagoda is the oldest and most attractive religious place here. With beautiful ancient architecture, this temple is a well-known tourist attraction for tourists.

thien mu pagoda in Hue Vietnam
Main gate of Thien Mu Pagoda. Photo: Vietnamdrive

Thien Mu pagoda was built for the religious spiritual of Hue people.

Thien Mu – Heavenly Lady Pagoda, also known as Linh Mu – Holy Lady Pagoda, is a famous ancient pagoda located on the hill of Ha Khe, on the left bank of the Perfume River, about 5 km west of the center of Hue City, Vietnam. It was built in 1601 by the lord of Nguyen Hoang.

Thien Mu Pagoda is situated in the middle of the charming countryside and the inspiration for many works of music and poetry. The beauty of the temple is created from a combination of historical and cultural value, spiritual and artistic facts. Thien Mu Pagoda was classified as a top must-see destination in Hue.

The top highlight of Thien Mu Pagoda is the Phuoc Duyen Tower. The tower was built in front of the pagoda with a height of 21m, including 7 floors. And each level has the worship of Buddha statues; the top floor has a golden Buddha statue. Phuoc Duyen Tower is an essential architecture of Thien Mu Pagoda, which we can see it from long distance.

Phuoc Duyen Tower at Thien Mu Pagoda
Phuoc Duyen Tower

The name of Thien Mu Pagoda means a lady coming from heaven.

The name of the pagoda relates to the legend of the local people. It is said that a lady with white and red clothes often appeared on the top of the hill Ha Khe. She asked the people that a good hero was coming to this land, and he would build a temple right on the mountain to gather strong feng-shui of nature, attract brave souls and talented people, and help the nation develop actively.

In 1601, when The lord Nguyen Hoang came to this area and heard the legend. He had the people build a pagoda as the saying of that lady. He believed that the lady came from heaven, so he called the pagoda Thien Mu or Heavenly Lady. Then, some people have also called it Linh Mu pagoda (Holy Lady Pagoda), but Thien Mu is still the famous name of this pagoda.

The main temple of Thien Mu Pagoda
The main temple of Thien Mu Pagoda. Photo: Vietnamdrive

The architecture of the pagoda was designed with an axis parallel.

Visiting this pagoda, you will see a complex of many beautiful and superficial architectural works, including Phuoc Duyen tower right in front of the main gate – Tam Quan, worshipping temples, bell tower, and stele house. All of these were built on the surface of the hill, creating an axis of symmetry. This method of the pagoda is similar to the imperial palaces of Nguyen Kings.

Thus, when visiting this place, it is easy for you to explore the beauty of all old buildings and lovely sightseeing from the beginning to the end on the way to move and back. And, you may not miss a famous relic here, that is an Austin car, which related to the story of Quang Duc Venerable rode it and burned himself in Saigon in 1964 to ask for freedom in religion in general and Buddhism in particular.

A famous bell of the pagoda cannot be sounded.

Thien Mu Pagoda bell
Thien Mu Pagoda’s bell. Photo: Vietnamdrive

Near the Phuoc Duyen Tower, there is a great bell (in Vietnamese: Dai Hong Chuong), which was cast in 1710. The bell used to own excellent sounds when the monks rang it in the early morning. However, according to the local, when a young couple, who hid inside the bell, hugged and kissed each other, the bell could not sound. In spite of that, the bell is still here and a famous relic which guests want to see when visiting the pagoda.

Thien Mu Pagoda’s still beautiful after many times of restoration.

Thien Mu pagoda was officially established in 1601, the reign of the first lord – Nguyen Hoang. Under the Nguyen dynasty, Linh Mu pagoda has undergone many significant renovations, of which the most prominent is the restoration under Nguyen Phuc Chu (1691–1725). In 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu cast a large bell, weighing over two tons, called Dai Hong Chung as mentioned above. By 1714, he also had the people renovate the pagoda with dozens of very large architectural works such as Thien Vuong Palace, Dai Hung Palace, Dharma Hall, Tang Kinh Floor, Zen House … but some of those works no longer exist today.

With natural beauty and good facing-river location, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda had become the most beautiful temple in Dang Trong (south part of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty). Through many historical events, the pagoda was restored and rebuilt many times under the Nguyen kings. But, it still keeps a charming beauty, attracting a lot of guests.

A terrible storm in 1904 destroyed the temple. Many constructions were damaged, in which Huong Nguyen temple was utterly collapsed. Although there are many large and small restorations, the main architectural works such as Phuoc Duyen tower, Dai Hung Palace, Hell-god temple, Quan Am Temple, and bronze bell and its house, are preserved with right conditions. And, staying in an excellent position, Thien Mu pagoda becomes more and more accessible for the local people and tourists.

Linh Mu Pagoda Hue Vietnam
The garden of Linh Mu Pagoda. Photo: Vietnamdrive

Thien Mu Pagoda has a vital meaning in the life of Hue people.

Thien Mu Pagoda, as a historical witness, has stood on the bank of the Perfume River. The pagoda lives in the minds of Hue people in particular and the cultural life of Vietnamese people in general. Although there are not many Buddha statues like the other pagodas, the temple is a holy site for the people, and its garden looks like a palace of the kings and mandarins of ancient Hue.

Visiting this area, visitors seem to enter the sacred space of hundreds of years. What a serene and dreaming place! When you pass through the gates of the pagoda, you can find your hearts and mind calm down, leave behind worries and stressful activities of the normal life.

The best time to visit Thien Mu Pagoda is in the early morning or late afternoon.

To study all the souls of the Buddhist spirit at the Heavenly Lady Pagoda, you may come here at the less busy time, in the early morning or in the late afternoon. You will find out the tranquil atmosphere, creating great peace in your mind. That supports you has more relaxing and creative thinking.

The surroundings become quite different, but it is time you can imagine the active life hidden the silence.

It is possible to use a boat or a car to visit the pagoda.

Heavenly Lady Pagoda in Hue
Looking at the Heavenly Lady Pagoda from the river.

Lying right at the north bank of the Perfume River, using a dragon boat to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, is a good recommendation. While you are on the boat, you can enjoy the beautiful sightseeing and some historical relics of the royal family along the river.

Another method to visit this pagoda is to book a private car. Still, we suggest you plan to attend this pagoda with other relics, such as the imperial palaces, royal tombs, and the local markets.

If you are a person who likes to do exercise, a bicycle is the third choice for you; however, when you ride a bike, you need to notice the massy traffic.

In conclusion, hopefully, the introduction to Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue will help you have better ideas to plan to visit this city with unforgettable experiences. If you still have any questions or need to consult more information about this site and Hue City, please contact Vietnamdrive. We are dedicated to supporting you.

  • Address: Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Street, 5 km from Hue City Center, on the north bank of the Perfume River,
  • Opening hours: 5:00am – 6:00pm for surroundings, the main temple is closed at lunchtime,
  • Cost to visit the pagoda: It is free.

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