Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue - the Celestial Lady Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda, the Temple of the Celestial Lady, sits along the banks of the Perfume River in Hue, Vietnam. The temple lies about 4 kilometers west of the Imperial Citadel. While it's possible to walk (that's what we did!), you might want to rent a motorbike or even a bicycle for the trip to the temple. If you do choose to walk, you will be treated to some amazing views of the beautiful Perfume River.
The seven-story pagoda is a symbol of Hue, and one of the city's famous landmarks. The pagoda dates back to 1601, and has a famous story associated with it. Those were the final days of the Le Dynasty, when the Nguyen Lords ruled central Vietnam in tribute to the north before ascending the throne and establishing the Nguyen Dynasty.
One day a Nguyen Lord was riding in the countryside, he met an old lady dressed in red and blue (the "Celestial Lady") who predicted that a lord would build a pagoda and become a great ruler. Then, she mysteriously vanished! The lord constructed the pagoda, and 200 years later, his family would rise up to become the imperial family of the last dynasty of Vietnam.he Thien Mu Pagoda is named after
Thien Mu Pagoda is heavily influenced by the Zen school of Buddhism. The main statue inside the pagoda is of Maitriya, the "Future Buddha", who is supposed to come to the world in the future to bring Buddhist teachings when most have been forgotten.
The temple also has a garage holding an important Vietnamese relic: the automobile that carried Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc to Saigon in 1963, where he self-immolated in protest. This moment was captured on film by an American journalist, and became an important symbol of anti-war protest. We've all see that famous photograph, a symbol that helped turn the tide of support against the war.
The temple is situated in a beautiful garden in the forests of central Vietnam. The air there is cool and fresh, and the scenery is incredible - some of the most beautiful in the whole country.
Thien Mu Pagoda is totally free to visit, and worth spending a few hours exploring. As you leave the temple, there are plenty of souvenir shops selling local items and goods to tourists. There are also a lot of boats waiting to offer you a tour of the river through Hue, or a ride back to your hotel down the Perfume River. You'll have to bargain, though. The best price we were able to get back to the Imperial Citadel was around 200.000 VND (about $10).