Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi
Tran Quoc Pagoda started being built in 541 and completed in 545 under the reign of King Ly Nam De (544-548). Its original name was Khai Quoc Pagoda (National Founder). The pagoda was initially built on the bank of the Red River (then West Lake and the Red River met). Until the early 17th century, due to the river bank crumbling, King Le Kinh Tong (1600-1618) moved the pagoda to the Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) Islet and renamed it Tran Quoc Pagoda (National Defence).
Actually, Tran Quoc Pagoda is considered a cultural symbol of Vietnamese Buddhism as it is the oldest pagoda and situated in the center of Hanoi capital. The most outstanding feature of the pagoda is that it was built in a very intricate way. Behind the worshipping shrine is the Buddhist trinity followed by corridors, ten shrines and the belfry. There are many valuable statues inside the pagoda, such as the red lac statue trimmed with gold of Sakyamouni Buddha’s Parinirvana, which is a masterpiece of Vietnamese sculptural art, and lots of ancient stele, one of which was made in 1639 by Doctoral lau- Nguyen Xuan Chinh, recording the history of the pagoda.
It would be a miss if not mentioning the Bodhi tree in the garden of Tran Quoc Pagoda. This kind of tree is attached to a past story. The story tells that Indian Prime Minister Razendia Prasat offered the Pagoda a Bodhi tree as a gift on his tour to Vietnam in 1959. The plant was grafted from the holy bodhi tree where Sakyamuni sat in zen (meditation) position and achieved enlightenment in India 25 centuries ago. Now the Bodhi tree is easily recognized from its heart-shaped leaves, taken from a cutting of its original tree. Now, the green tree shades over part of the pagoda’s yard.