Tu Hieu Pagoda – In Hue – one of Vietnam’s most sacred lands of Buddhism, Tu Hieu is regarded as the largest and oldest pagoda, and also a famous sightseeing spot with historical and cultural value.
Address: Duong Xuan Thuong III hamlet, Thuy Xuan commune, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue province. Tu Hieu pagoda originated from An Duong hermitage constructed by Most Vernerable Nhat Dinh in 1843. In 1848 (one year after the most vernerable passed away), eunuchs had the pagoda restructured and expanded
Location and worshiping
Located just 5km southwest of the city centre, this pagoda owes its picturesque scene to the pine forest, small stream and, of course, elegant architectural style. Tu Hieu was built in the shape of the Chinese character “Khau” (mouth) (like a square), with the main building consisting of three rooms and two wings. The main sanctuary is for worshiping the Buddha. A three-story tower in front of the pagoda was constructed in order to reserve books and sculptures. One particular feature of this pagoda is an altar dedicated to Le Van Duyet, a Gia Long’s reign mandarin, in addition to traditional altars dedicated to local Buddhist devotees and Quan Cong. It’s said that the pagoda’s land and building up was mainly thanks to the donation of these eunuchs.They were also buried in the graveyard beside the pagoda.
Solemn yet still splendid, the three entrance gate of Tu Hieu Pagoda is a two level curve-domed shape one, which was elaborately roofed and decorated. The statue of Dharma guardian (Ho Phap) is placed right in the centre of the upper level, facing the crescent lotus pond. Visitors can find stele houses engraved with the history of the pagoda on both sides of the courtyard.
Tu Hieu Pagoda History
In 1747, Emperor Tu Duc offered Tu Hieu pagoda the plague “Sac Tu Tu Hieu Tu”. Throughout its history, the pagoda was renovated in 1865, 1894, 1931, 1962, 1971 etc. The triple gate consists of two roofed storey and Ho Phap statute placed on top. Inside the pagoda, there is a crescent-shaped lake built in 1931 where lotus and water lily are grown. Tu Hieu is known as an ancient pagoda in Hue city. Formerly, it was in Tu Hieu pagoda that Buddhist scripture and discipline codes were published. Eminent monks such as Nhat Dinh, Dieu Giac, Cuong Ky, etc were buried in tomb tower area. Tu Hieu pagoda is a beautiful place of interest of the ancient imperial capital (According to Lotus library).
The pagoda was named by King Tu Duc, after he heard the story of Most Venerable Nhat Dinh – founder of Tu Hieu Pagoda. Nhat Dinh was such a dutiful son that he followed the doctor’s advice to prepare meat and fish for her mother while she was sick, regardless of people’s comments since he was a monk.
The name “Tu Hieu” means “Filial Piety”, which consists of the two most important virtues of Buddhism. Actually, it was extracted from the title “Sac tu Tu Hieu tu” that Emperor Tu Duc gave to the pagoda, in appreciation of Nhat Dinh’s dedication to his mother, given the fact that Tu Duc himself was also well-known for his filial responsibility to his father – King Thieu Tri and his mother – Queen Tu Du.
The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh
In addition, the pagoda is also famous for The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist living in France now, whose root temple is Tu Hieu Pagoda.
Today, people come here not just to admire the natural scenery and ancient atmospheric monuments that perfectly blend with each other but also to remind themselves of the most important responsibility in one’s life: love and take care of parents and family. It’s highly recommended for tourists to spot here on the way to Tu Duc’s Tomb. In case one hopes to hear the monks chanting, 10AM and 4PM are the right times.