Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda (namely Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda), also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is one of the most fascinating and ancient pagoda in Hue city. It is situated on Ha Khe hill, on the north bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long village, 5 kilometers from Hue city, which is easy to reach from the city center. The name of the pagoda comes from a legend: a long ago, an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today. She told local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country's prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang, on hearing that, ordered the construction of the pagoda of the "Heavenly Lady".
It was built in 1601, and then Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan had it renovated in 1665. In 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu had a great bell cast (2.5m high, 3.285kg) and in 1715, he had a stele (2.58 m high) erected on the back of a marble tortoise. Several kings of the Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Thanh Thai, all had the pagoda restored. Phuoc Duyen tower (at first called Tu Nhan tower) was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (2m high). Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, presents a magnificent architecture. As well as bronze cast statues, it shelters some precious antiques: the bronze gong cast in 1677, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu's inscriptions (1714). On both sides of the pagoda are a room for the bonzes and a guest-room for visitors.
Besides the architectural value, Thien Mu pagoda features a great historical role, which is also of absorption to visitors. During the summer of 1963, Thien Mu Pagoda, like many in South Vietnam, became a hotbed of anti-government protest. South Vietnam's Buddhist majority had long been discontented with the rule of President Ngo Dinh Diem since his rise to power in 1955. Diem had shown strong favouritism towards Catholics and discrimination against Buddhists in the army, public service and distribution of government aid. Discontent with Diem exploded into mass protest in Hue during the summer of 1963 when nine Buddhists died at the hand of Diem's army and police on Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Accordingly, Buddhist protests were held across the country and steadily grew in size. In those historical days, Thien Mu Pagoda was a major organising point for the Buddhist movement and was often the location of hunger strikes, barricades and protests.
Today, the pagoda is surrounded by flowers and ornamental plants. At the far end of the garden stretches a calm and romantic pine-tree forest. It is much well-maintained and very welcoming to all visitors.
THE CITADEL OF HUE CITY
The poetic and beautiful Hue of Vietnam was chosen to be the capital of the Southern Kingdom under Nguyen Lords’ Dynasty, and officially became the nation's capital under Tay Son Dynasty, King Quang Trung. The citadel palace complex is located on the North bank of Perfume River, inside Hue city. It is a huge complex covering an area of 520ha and comprising three circles of ramparts, Hue Capital Citadel, Royal Citadel and Forbidden Citadel. It was said to be protected by the two sand dunes: The Con Hen and Con Da Vien on the Perfume River, as "dragon on the left, tiger on the right".
Famously being one of Vietnam’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Imperial City of Hue has long been a must-see attraction for tourists visiting a hidden charm of Vietnam. The very first stop-over is the exterior circle, the Hue capital citadel, which started to be constructed in 1805 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long and was completed in 1832 under the sovereignty of Emperor Ming Mang. Over the past 200 years, it has still maintained original with nearly 140 small and large constructions. With a square shape, it is almost 10km in circumference, 6m high, 21m thick, with 10 entrances. On the top of the walls, 24 bastions are established for defensive purposes. Besides, the Citadel has an ancillary gate connecting the Tran Binh Bastion called the Tran Binh Mon (Peaceful protector Gate).
There are total of ten main majestic gates leading to the Imperial City of Hue, which can be divided into two main parts excluding houses and mansions: The Citadel and The Forbidden City. The former served to protect the important palaces inside while the latter was where the emperor and the royal family stayed as well as the court’s workplace. All the typically traditional Eastern architectures including majestic palaces, tombs and museums stand accordantly together to make an utmost amusing attraction right in the heart of Vietnam.
Standing for over 200 years and consisting of over 100 fascinating architectural works almost remained unchanged, the Royal Citadel is an ideal place for those wishing to better understand an architectural and cultural beauty as well as an important history of Vietnam. Joining a city tour and visiting Hue Citadel - the not-to-be-missed attraction when you travel to Hue will give you a better understanding of the architectural and cultural beauty during an important phase in Vietnam history.
TOMB OF TU DUC
Tomb of Tu Duc is located in Huế, Vietnam. It is built for the Nguyen Emperor Tu Duc and took three years to build from 1864–1867. It is divided into a Temple Area and a Tomb Area. Tu Duc's tomb is located in a narrow valley in Duong Xuan Thuong village. It is one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty. The tomb lies in a boundless pine forest, 8 km from Hue. Inside the surrounding wall about 12 hectares wide, nearly 50 constructions were built on terraces of various levels. All constructions include the word Khiem in their names.
The temple area
Entering Vu Khiem entrance, there is Luu Khiem lake. On the lake are Xung Khiem Pavilion and Du Khiem Pavilion where the Emperor used to come to admire flowers, compose poems, read books, etc. Then, three Thanh stone steps to Khiem Cung gate lead to Hoa Khiem Palace, which used to be the Emperor's working place, and is now the altar devoted to the Emperor and the Queen. On both sides are Phap Khiem House and Le Khiem House for the military and civil mandarins.
Behind Hoa Khiem Palace is Luong Khiem Palace, which was also the Emperor's resting place, and was later used to worship Mrs. Tu Du (Tu Duc's Mother). On the right of Luong Khiem Palace stand On Khiem Palace, where the royal utensils are kept. On the left of Luong Khiem Palace is Minh Khiem theatre. Then, comes Chi Khiem, the altar to worship the Emperor's wives, Tri Khiem Palace and Y Khiem Palace were the accommodations of the Emperor's concubines.
The tomb area
On the left of the temple is the necropolis itself slopping upward with the Honour Courtyard, the Stele Pavilion, and the seplucre. Rightbehind Bai Dinh, with two rows of magnificent military and civil mandarins, is Bi Dinh (Stele Pavilion) with the biggest stone stele in Vietnam.
It is inscribed with Khiem Cung narrative, composed by the Emperor himself, writing about his life and imperial cause as well as his misadventures and diseases, etc. On the hill, opposite the semi-circular Tieu Khiem Tri lake, is the Buu Thanh brick wall, in the middle is a stone house, where the Emperor was buried. Tu Duc’s tomb is not only one of the most beautiful works of the Nguyen dynasty, but it is also a romantic scenery of mounts and lakes.