Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Tran Quoc - the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi

Tran Quoc Temple, which was built 14 centuries ago and has undergone many renovations, is an important site in the West Lake scenic complex.

(picture: the tallest pagoda at Tran Quoc Temple)

Buddhism was transmitted into Vietnam by Indian monks and nuns and merchants in the early comon era. Since then many Buddhist temples have been built, in which Tran Quoc Temple is the first to be constructed.

This Buddhist temple was built in the 6th century, under the King Ly Nam De's reign, near the Red River and was first named Khai Quoc (Establishing the Nation). In the 15th centuty, the temple was renamed An Quoc (Peaceful Nation). In the early 17th century, the temple was moved to Gold Fish islet in the West Lake due to the erosion of the river bank and has been standing there till present. Under King Le Hy Tong (1675-1705), the temple was renamed Tran Quoc (Protecting the Nation).

The temple was renovated in 1624 and 1628. In 1639, the temple was expanded with more space for worship and meditation halls.

In 1815, the temple was once renovated, bells were cast and more beautiful Buddhas were put up. In a stele at the temple, Dr Pham Quy Thich wrote: "The Buddhist worship hall, incense offering hall and the front hall are built first. Then comes the two corridors, bell tower and rear hall. All of them are bigger. Buddhas and giant bells are also cast at the same time."

In 1832, emperor Minh Mang paid a visit to Tran Quoc TeAdd Imagemple and granted silver for renovations.

Tran Quoc temple has a unique layout, different from other Buddhist temples. The front is the worship hall and then comes the rear palace. The back is the two corridors and the bell tower. There are many beautiful Buddhas in the temple, especially the laying Shakyamuni Buddha.

The temple is ranked fourth in the most beautiful Buddhist temples of Vietnam.

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