January 19, 2022

Finding the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi by Chance

One day in 2018, I decided to set my eyes on the famous Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. I wanted to locate it without asking for help because I read online that it was very easy to find. Also, the guides all mentioned that the spot was very close to other famous spots like the (you guessed it) One Pillar Pagoda. I’d been to some of the most important spots in Hanoi. So, thinking that I wouldn’t get lost anymore, I went ahead with my plan.

Amazingly enough, finding the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was indeed pretty easy. It was only a couple of blocks away from the very lovely Thang Long Imperial Citadel as well as the Long Bien Bus Station where I usually get off on weekends.

A Chance Discovery

After the tour of the Mausoleum, I was ready to head back to the Long Bien bus station (because the sun was setting,) when I learned that all visitors had to go around the mausoleum to be able to get to the exit. So, following a small group of tourists, I slowly headed towards a nearby museum where the exit was located. Along the way, however, I noticed that there were a lot of people in the area. I thought that the people I saw were simply there for the coffee stalls and mini souvenir shops.

Several more steps later, however, I saw a strikingly-familiar structure. I’ve seen this structure somewhere before, I thought. I peered through the fence to take a good look at it. Inside the perimeter, I saw a small temple sitting right in the middle of a pond. Immediately, I realized that this was the temple I saw in the travel guides. This was the One Pillar Pagoda!

The One Pillar Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda is one of Hanoi, Vietnam‘s most visited and most important historical structures. In fact, this Buddhist temple, together with the Perfume Pagoda, is considered one of the most iconic temples in the whole of Vietnam.

According to court records, the construction of the One Pillar Pagoda in 1049 was ordered by Emperor Ly Thai Tong as a thank you gift to the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (whom he met in a dream) for giving him a son. In his dream, the bodhisattva gave the Emperor a son while seated on a lotus flower-a Buddhist symbol of purity.

The One Pillar Pagoda is a wooden temple that sits on a single stone pillar in the middle of a pond. This temple resembles a lotus flower which blossoms right in the middle of a very murky pond. Exactly like the lotus flower where the bodhisattva sat.

The pagoda houses a small shrine devoted to Avalokitesvara Boddhisatva. Visitors who come to the temple can say a short prayer and offer fruits, food, and money.

Here is a closer look at the altar which is filled with offerings of fruits and flowers.

I still could not believe that I was able to locate this tourist destination easily. I could have easily made a different turn or missed the people gathering around it. To be honest, I guess, that day, I just got pretty lucky.

Check out my other Vietnam stories below:

3 thoughts on “Finding the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi by Chance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *