Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — Huế is conducting a restoration project in a bid to save Diệu Đế, which was considered as a national pagoda under the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945).
Work started on Monday and is expected to be completed within the next three years. The Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha in Huế is supervising the project, with the Huế Monuments Conservation Centre, a local governmental body that manages relics built by the dynasty in the city, acting as technical adviser.
The restoration work includes the reinforcement of all buildings in the pagoda and the demolition of the pagoda’s main building, which used to serve as the praying hall. The old concrete hall will be replaced by a wooden structure made in the Vietnamese old housing style. However, the master plan of the pagoda on 10,000 sq.m lot will remain the same.
A total of 5,000 large timber logs have been prepared for the restoration. The project, which costs US$1.4 million, will be funded through donations from Buddhist donors.
A view of the Diệu Đế’s three-door gate from inside the pagoda. VNS Photo Phước Bửu
According to the sangha in Huế, all structures in the pagoda have deteriorated over time and required urgent repairs for the safety of worshippers and visitors.
The pagoda was originally a private royal residence designed for Prince Miên Tông, who later became Thiệu Trị (1841-1847), the Nguyễn Dynasty’s third king. It was named after the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, or Tứ Diệu Đế in the Vietnamese language.
After his coronation, the king turned Diệu Đế into the national pagoda in 1844. Since then, the pagoda has served as a popular landmark in the former imperial capital city thanks to its natural and structural beauty.
Today Diệu Đế is an important place for local Buddhists, who have conducted a ceremonial bathing of Buddha in the pagoda during Vesak every year since 1960s, followed by a Buddhist parade across the city beginning from the pagoda.
It also provides shade for the city’s residents to relax under on hot summer days. — VNS