Perhaps because Tu Hieu pagoda tinged with mysterious wilderness between religion and life, this place becomes one of the famous scenic spots of the ancient capital over time.
Located among the immense pine forest, in Thuy Xuan commune, Hue city, Tu Hieu pagoda is known as the resting place of the Nguyen Dynasty’s eunuchs. This Hue pagoda teaches us a beautiful lesson of a devoted son that we are going to tell you below.
The pagoda symbolizes piety
Tu Hieu pagoda was originally Thao Am (a small hut) with the name of An Duong temple that was built by Thich Nhat Dinh. He was originally an eminent monk of Giac Hoang pagoda in Hue Imperial palace. Due to his mother’s illness, he resigned to take care of and devote his time for her while leading a tranquil religious life here.
Legend has it that because the elderly mother was seriously ill. Only being fed with good nutrition would save her life. Therefore, the monk walked over 5km every day to find fresh fish to cook porridge for his mother.
His actions violated Great Buddha teachings, which are not to slaughter animals and eat meat/ fish as a monk. Rumor spread quickly about a monk who bought and ate fish. However, the man ignored and continued to do what he believed. 6 months later, his mom recovered from her illness which was a joy for him.
Construction of Tu Hieu Pagoda
When Tu Duc King heard the rumour, he ordered his subordinate to find out the truth. Then, he knew that the monk still kept his vegetarian diet and led a religious life. When knowing the truth, the king was so touched by Zen master’s piety in such a remote place.
Later, in 1848, one year after Zen master Nhat Dinh Vien passed away, the construction and expansion of Thao Am into Tu Hieu pagoda was held by court, mandarin eunuchs and many Buddhist supporters.
Upon completion, Tu Duc King remembered the old story and gave it the name “Tu Hieu pagoda”.
Every year during Buddha’s birthday holiday comes, many Buddhists went to the pagoda to celebrate and put pink or white flowers on their clothes to show their filial piety.
Few people know that this is the pagoda’s head monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the person who laid the foundation for the ceremony of “bong hong cai ao” which has so far become a unique culture of Vietnamese people. These meanings also stem from the pagoda called “Tu Hieu”.
A representative of Hue architecture
Tu Hieu Pagoda gradually appears under shady streets with peaceful space and romantically picturesque. The pagoda represents simplicity and the Hue royal architecture. This is demonstrated in each carving and decorating ceramics on bas-reliefs with dragon and phoenix patterns.
The simplicity of the pagoda is reflected in the architecture of the character “Khau”(mouth) with three rooms and two bedrooms traditional house that forming a self-contained whole.
The front room is the place to worship the Buddha while the back one is for the Patriarch. Unlike many other pagodas, besides the three Buddha statue, Shakyamuni Buddha, worshiping pictures instead of statue is also a special feature that makes the solemn worship place become closer.
Crossing the courtyard in the middle with a variety of ornamental plants called Hau houses or another name Quang Hieu Duong. This is the place to worship Duc Thanh Quan, the home buddhists and the eunuchs – those who have contributed to building the pagoda, ..
In addition, there is also the altar worship of Le Van Duyet with the wooden horse, his great sword and many other gods.
Besides the harmonious space, each house has its architectural appearance of the Hue wooden garden houses mixed with nature, which makes those who visit here feels quiet and peace in the heart.
A final resting place of royal eunuchs
Coming to Tu Hieu pagoda, many tourists are curious about a cemetery in the pagoda’s grounds. Few people know that it is a unique cemetery, the resting place of more than 24 eunuchs of Nguyen Dynasty.
Legend has it that after the death of Zen master Nhat Dinh, Thao Am Duong was repaired and expanded into Tu Hieu pagoda under the help of the eunuch, named Chau Phuoc Nang. He was the one who recognized the fate of the eunuchs like himself when getting old without relatives and family.
He called out for donation from other eunuchs. This matter was later approved by King Tu Duc. The eunuchs were buried in a small hill next to Tu Hieu Pagoda after death. Thus, local community also refers this as Eunuch pagoda.
Today, this graveyard is on the right of the pagoda with an area of nearly 1000m2. More than 24 graves are divided into three rows, arranged from low to high according to the position of the former eunuch. Finally, a stele in the middle stood over time as their contribution to the court.
With harmonious beauty between architecture and poetic space, today Tu Hieu ancient pagoda is undoubtedly a destination that attracts many domestic and foreign tourists.
If you wish to visit Tu Hieu pagoda and learn to be happy with your inner self, check out the Hue Zen Tour for an experience that is off the beaten path.