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00:02 • the Perfume River
00:44 • Celestial Lady Pagoda
The Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady (Thien Mu)
In Hue, on the banks of the Perfume River, rises a 7-storey octagonal tower in the middle of an oasis of greenery. This is the oldest and most famous pagoda in the city, Tien Mu, better known as the Heavenly Lady Pagoda.
The 7 floors symbolize the 7 reincarnations of Buddha.
The Heavenly Lady Pagoda, also known as Chùa Thiên Mụ, is a historic Buddhist temple located in Hue, Vietnam. The pagoda is located on the hill of Hà Khê, overlooking the Perfume River, and it is an important symbol of the city. The legend surrounding the Heavenly Lady Pagoda is a fascinating story that blends local history and mythology.
According to legend, at the beginning of the 17th century, a mysterious old woman appeared on the hill of Hà Khê, dressed in red and blue. She prophesied that a great leader would one day come and build a Buddhist pagoda on the hill to bring prosperity and peace to the area. After making this prophecy, the old woman disappeared, and it is believed that she was a manifestation of the goddess Avalokiteshvara (or Quan Âm in Vietnamese), the bodhisattva of compassion.
Hearing this story, Lord Nguyễn Hoàng, Governor of Thuận Hóa Province at the time, decided to build the pagoda on the hill in 1601. The pagoda was named "Chùa Thiên Mụ" in honor of the old woman, who was considered a "Heavenly Lady" or a divine manifestation.
Over the years, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda has undergone several renovations and extensions. The pagoda's most iconic structure is its 21-meter-tall octagonal tower, called Phước Duyên, which was built in 1844 during the reign of Emperor Thiệu Trị. The tower has seven floors, each dedicated to a different Buddha.
Today, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda is an active Buddhist place of worship and a popular tourist attraction in Hue, offering a fascinating insight into local history, culture and beliefs.
This pagoda was built in 1601 and did not originally have this tower. A first restoration took place in 1665. Half a century later, the sovereign was to melt a large bell of 2.5 meters weighing a little more than 2 tons to offer it to the temple. This bell was the most powerful of the time and its sound could be heard for several kilometers.
A new restoration was carried out in the 19th century and the octagonal tower 21 meters high was built in 1844.
Conflicts in the region and a cyclone heavily damaged the tower, which was restored once again. This work lasted 30 years.
The temple also houses a car symbolizing the struggle of the monks of Thien Mu for respect for the Buddhist religion in Vietnam devastated by war in the 1960s. in this year 1963. A monk, Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire in Saigon. The old Austin which is exhibited at the back of the Heavenly Lady Pagoda belonged to the monastery and had been used to transport the immolated monk.
about the place, Hué:
Located near the demarcation line set by the Geneva Accords in 1954 between the two Vietnams (the 17th parallel), Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue is crossed by the Perfume River and its main resources come from fishing, but above all from tourism. The city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
Capital of the empire, Hué was the imperial residence and one of its highlights is the Forbidden City built during the 19th century.
The city has a long history of wars and devastation. The Forbidden City was burned and destroyed in 1885 by the French who looted the city and massacred its inhabitants. It also paid a heavy price in the Vietnam War, bombed by the Americans and targeted by the Viet Minh.
Spoken comments in the film:
The Perfume River crosses the city of Hue. On its edges stands the oldest and best known of the city's pagodas. The Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady built at the very beginning of the 17th century on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva. Legend has it that an old woman in a red dress prophesied that whoever built a Buddhist temple there would found a powerful dynasty.
In 1963 an event in Saigon was going to make headlines all over the world. The immolation by fire of a monk to protest against the discrimination of the Buddhist religion in Vietnam. This monk belonged to this pagoda and this Austin is the vehicle that brought him there.
What's the weather like in Hue?
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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of vietnamese traditional music in "Hue, Celestial Lady Pagoda (Tien Mu) • Vietnam", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.