HA NOI (VNS) — With more than 1,000 years of history, Ha Noi has been Viet Nam's centre of Buddhism for centuries.
The capital city has more than 600 temples and pagodas, many of which are not only religious relics, but also popular tourist sites.
|A corner of the Tran Quoc Pagoda during the Lunar New Year celebration. — Photo VNA/VNS Minh Duc
Located on a small peninsula on the east side of West Lake, Tran Quoc is regarded as the oldest pagoda in Ha Noi because of its more than 1500-year-old history.
The architecture of this Buddhist place of worship is a subtle combination of a solemn and beautiful landscape and the peaceful and quiet ambience of West Lake.
Nguyen Hong Phuong from Ba Dinh District said, "I like the landscape of Tran Quoc Pagoda very much. This is a very old pagoda, and the tranquil atmosphere gives me a feeling of peace every time I come here."
Standing humbly on the busy Hang Duong Street, Cau Dong Pagoda was built to worship the Buddha and to honour a general who contributed significantly to the prosperity of the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400).
As this pagoda has witnessed numerous historical changes over centuries, its architecture reflects the quintessence of different dynasties that contributed to its multiple restorations.
When seeing famous pagodas in Ha Noi, visitors must not miss out on Quan Su Pagoda, built in the shape of a Chinese Gong character, with three roofs on each building. What makes it even more special are the unicorn statues carved on its roofs.
Thich Thanh Nhieu, permanent vice-president of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha Executive Council, said Quan Su Pagoda had managed to preserve its original architecture despite having gone through a lot of restoration work. The things that make it special are the curved roofs with carved unicorns on them.
It is a long-standing custom of the people in the country to visit a pagoda each New Year. In Viet Nam, the custom is called "Le Chua," with "le" meaning not only visiting but also showing respect in all sincerity to the Buddha and the gods of the pagodas and temples.
Nguyen Thi Yen from Tay Ho District said she visited the pagodas in spring to pray for good health and prosperity of her family members.
Meanwhile, Trieu Nhu Thang from Dong Da District said visiting pagodas during spring time not only had a spiritual meaning, but also helped the young generation to understand the customs of their homeland better.
Praying at pagodas and temples is also a great way to enjoy the spring air. Allowing one's soul to enjoy these spiritual spaces, breathing in the aroma of burning incense and flowers, and enjoying the relaxing view of a pagoda's gardens help remove all stress and worries of the previous year. — VNS