What makes One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi to be recognized as Asia’s most unique piece of architecture by the Asia Book of Records? What specialty about this historical monument to be one of Vietnam’s two most iconic pagodas?
One Pillar Pagoda (Mot Cot Pagoda or Chua Mot Cot) is the truly futuristic architecture, exceeding the world architectural design for nearly a thousand years with the groundbreaking concept of “against gravity”.
It’s also one of the long-standing cultural historical relics, a characterized and typical symbol of Hanoi City thousand year civilization.
We will give you information to explore one Pillar Pagoda
1. Take a Free local guide
According to my experiences, you should have a guide to explore One Pillar Pagoda in particular and Hanoi in general. And it will be best if you take a remarkable journey with A LOCAL GUIDE!!
What is more wonderful when you will have a chance to listen to the local stories, discover the local custom, come to the smallest corners only local people knows and enjoy the local life here!!
And my advice is you should contact AZ Local Trip NPO – Free Tour Guide Organisation in Hanoi. As a local, they will know clearly the worth-visiting destinations, help you plan a suitable itinerary, and contact a knowledgeable local guide for you.
2. Grasp the basic information of One Pillar Pagoda Hanoi
One Pillar Pagoda Entrance Fee
It is free to visit One Pillar Pagoda.
One Pillar Pagoda Opening Hours
- Every day except Monday and Friday afternoon
- Morning: 8 a.m to 11:30 a.m and Afternoon: 2 p.m to 4 p.m
One Pillar Pagoda Dress Code
You should wear full-length clothes as this is a historical site.
- Location: Ong Ich Khiem Street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi – about 2 kilometers from Hanoi Old Quarter
- Contact: 024 38463757
- Normally we will go along the road from Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house, Ho Chi Minh Museum then One Pillar Pagoda.
>>> Visit all these places in Ho Chi Minh Complex FREE Walking Tour with local students
3. Prepare carefully before the last minutes
There are various types of transportation you can use to get there; I highly recommend traveling by bus because of its convenience and low price.
If you come to One Pillar Pagoda by yourself by bus, ask the driver or assistant to remind you when arrive. In case you go with a local guide, there are no worries anymore!
We can use a taxi or motorbike as well. There are parking lots for visitors traveling here themselves with quite a low parking price.
Prepare a small water bottle along in case you get thirsty during the trip.
Please line up when you go into the pagoda and be quiet when you are inside the pagoda. As you know about the dress code, remember to wear a long dress or long pants when you visit this area.
The last thing you need to do is to GET READY AND GO!!
4. Contemplate the most unique architectural monument in Asia
On 10/10/2012, in Faridabad (India), the Asian Record Organization awarded the title, “One Pillar Pagoda with the most unique architectural monument in Asia”.
The uniqueness of One Pillar Pagoda architecture is that the entire temple is placed on a stone pillar.
There is a bold combination of poetic and romantic imagination through lotus images and perfect solutions to wooden architectural structures with solid foundations; especially using large cross-pillars from column to floor, both creating a strong position and providing the aesthetic effect.
The lotus flower is considered the symbol of One Pillar Pagoda, which is a stunning and fragrant flower standing for the quintessential beauty and elegance.
It is also a symbol of wisdom, longevity, liberation through intellectual awareness to enter nirvana.
6. Pray for children in One Pillar Pagoda Vietnam
Stepping inside the lotus throne, you will see the purple shrine with sacred bird imagery in the roof.
In the center, the statue of Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am) sits on a lacquer dipped gold trim red wooden lotus in the highest position.
According to the court records, King Lý Thái Tông had no child and need a son to be the successor. One night, he dreamt that he met Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am), who handed him a baby son while seated on a lotus flower.
That month the queen was pregnant.
Because of this story, according to the locals here, if a happy couple prays at this pagoda, they will be given marriage and children. At the foot of the statue, there are lots of fragrant flowers and fresh fruits of people coming to One Pillar Pagoda.
Also, you definitely pray for other things like a successful career, or a lucky and happy life.
Don’t skip the chance to pray for good things in one of the most sacred pagodas in Hanoi!
7. Capture the most outstanding moments by your camera
It will be a regret if you don’t take some stunning photos in this splendid pagoda.
Under the lotus is a square pond considered to symbolize the land (round sky, square ground), the temple seems to be rising. The stone architecture with the magnificent landscape, beautiful ponds, and green trees creating a fresh, pure and elegant atmosphere.
And the one not to miss highlight to capture on your lens is a bodhi tree, which is the gift of Indian president Rajendra Prasad to Ho Chi Minh President. The tree is believed to be an offshoot of the one where Buddha became enlightened and started helping humanity.
And okay, let me tell you a very interesting fact.
The image of One Pillar Pagoda is printed in the 5000 VND coin!
It will be very exciting if you take the real image and the printed image of the pagoda in one photo!!!
8. Continue your memorable journey by exploring other destinations
After visiting One Pillar Pagoda, you can continue your trip in Hanoi by coming to the near famous attraction like Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, or Hanoi Old Quarter.
If you are interested in these destinations, you can refer to our article and gain more information:
It is time to discover the timeless charm of One Pillar Pagoda Vietnam! Don’t hesitate anymore, my dears!
Part II: History Architecture & Meaning of One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda History
The pagoda was built in October 1049 (lunar calendar), under the commission from King Ly Thai Tong. The story is related to a dream of the king when he met Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am) and received a blessing from her. Then he commanded to construct this monument in gratitude for the deity.
Before the pagoda was opened, this is the place where monks recited the Buddhist scriptures and prayed for the longevity of the monarch. Therefore, it’s also called Dien Huu pagoda, which means “long-lasting happiness and good luck”.
During the Ly Dynasty era, an annual Buddha-bathing ceremony on the occasion of Vesak (the birthday of Gautama Buddha) was held here, on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month.
After that, The monarch would free a bird. Then people followed, to give thanks and support to the emperor, and pray to Quan Am for prosperous sovereignty.
One Pillar Pagoda was used to be Dien Huu Pagoda meaning “long-lasting happiness and good luck”
In 1105, King Ly Nhan Tong extended the pagoda and added Linh Chieu pond and a gilded lotus throne atop. Experiencing decades, it was repaired and restored many times in Tran, Post-Le, Nguyen dynasties.
In 1954, French colonists used detonation to destroy the pagoda on their hurried retreat from Vietnam.
In 1955, Ministry of Culture had One Pillar pagoda rebuilt from its remnants, based on the blueprint they found out.
One Pillar Pagoda Architecture
Looking from afar, the pagoda is in the square shape with each side of 3m and 4 curved roofs covered 4 dragon head-shape. The rooftop is decorated with dragons flanking the moon.
It was designed to resemble a lotus stretching up out of the square pond. The pond is 20 meters long on each side with a low wall surrounding. In the right season, lotus will blossom, resembling for the Buddhist symbol of purity.
The basement is on the top of a big stone pillar including two blocks which are connected together skillfully. This stone pillar is approximately 4 meters high (excluding the underground section) and 1.2 meters in diameter.
Following the Buddhism thoughts, One Pillar Pagoda deeply bears humanist philosophy with the square-shaped outer representing the yin, and the circle-shaped column representing the yang. Yin and Yang are two opposed sides but create the balance of living beings, the law of circulation of the universe.
From the yard to the pagoda floor, we will walk through 13 sidesteps, two sides of the brick-tiled wall with stone stele introducing the history of the pagoda.
Stepping inside the lotus throne, we will see the purple shrine with sacred bird imagery in the roof. In the center, the statue of Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am) sits on a lacquer dipped gold trim red wooden lotus in the highest position.
The statue of Guan Yin Buddha
What specialty about One Pillar Pagoda is, in the 11th century, its building principle is against the concept of gravity: big top tiny bottom.
The new concept is revolutionary in itself, exceeding the realization of approaching the idea of “anti-gravity” in building the design in the early 20th century.
The pagoda structure shows the harmonious combination of imagination and unique architecture with a system of wood beams that create the solidity and beauty for the pagoda.
Worship and the story
According to the court records, King Lý Thái Tông had no child and need a son to be the successor. In one night, he dreamt that he met Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am), who handed him a baby son while seated on a lotus flower.
Lý Thái Tông then married a peasant girl that he had met and she bore him a son. In 1049, the construction was built, in a style of a lotus emerging out of the water, to resemble the lotus seat of his dream in the honor of the deity.
One Pillar Pagoda is the cultural and historical symbol for a-thousand-year civilization in Hanoi. It’s the pride of Vietnamese people, of the ancient and splendor of national history image of One Pillar Pagoda on 5000 VND coin. Behind the pagoda, there’s a bodhi tree, which is the gift of Indian president Rajendra Prasad to Ho Chi Minh president. The tree is believed to be an offshoot of the one where Buddha became enlightened and started helping humanity.
Also, you can get a FREE ITINERARY PLANNING from AZ Local Team to explore the most of Hanoi!