• One Pillar Pagoda

    Tran QuangMarch 3, 2023

    Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. It’s famous for its delicious street food and age-old historical and cultural heritages. One of these is the One Pillar Pagoda, which is a distinctive and unique architectural structure and historical site. It’s considered a symbol of Hanoi city due to its architectural splendor that has been around for a thousand years, bearing the hallmark of the famous historical dynasty in Vietnam.

    The One Pillar Pagoda, also known as Chua Mot Cot, Dien Huu, or Lien Hoa Dai, is a well-known building with impressive architecture and historical significance. The pagoda is shaped like a lotus flower growing from water, and is connected to the legend of the Ly King.

    One Pillar Pagoda in the nowadays @wolly_photo
    One Pillar Pagoda in the nowadays @wolly_photo

    The history

    The One Pillar Pagoda was first built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong. According to legend, the Emperor prayed at pagodas for a son since he was old but had no child. One night, he dreamed of Guan Yin Buddha (Quan The Am Bo Tat) sitting on a lotus throne Quan and giving him a baby. Soon after, the queen gave birth to a prince. The Emperor built this pagoda to show his deep gratitude to Quan The Am Bo Tat, and it was first called Dien Huu pagoda, which means “long happiness and prosperity.” On the 8th of April in the lunar calendar, the Emperor visited the pagoda to attend the ritual of Bathing the Buddha with all the monks of the capital and then released birds.

    Over many decades, the pagoda was repaired and restored several times. In 1105, King Ly Nhan Tong extended the pagoda and added Linh Chieu pond and a gilded lotus throne atop. In 1954, French colonists destroyed the pagoda with explosives before withdrawing from Vietnam. However, the municipal government restored the pagoda in 1955, and it remains in this shape until now.

    One Pillar Pagoda in the old days.
    One Pillar Pagoda in the old days.

    What to see?

    The One Pillar Pagoda is a cool building that has lots of different parts mixed together. The main part of the building, called Lien Hoa Dai, is built on top of one big stone pillar. The pillar looks like 8 flower petals, and the building sits on top of them. All the pieces fit together really well, making the building very strong. You can get to Lien Hoa Dai by walking up a staircase with 13 steps, which connects the building to the lake.

    Inside the building, there is a special place for people to pray. It has a cool golden statue of Quan Am Bo Tat and some other things to worship, like a metal thing for burning incense, some fancy vases, and some lotus flowers made of gold.

    There is also a tree called a Bodhi tree in the building. It was given to Vietnam as a gift from the President of India in 1958, when the President of Vietnam went to visit India. The tree is a symbol of Buddhism and being smart and kind.

    The altar of Phat Ba Quan Am or the Goddess of Mercy inside the One Pillar Pagoda.
    The altar of Phat Ba Quan Am or the Goddess of Mercy inside the One Pillar Pagoda.


    • Entrance: Free
    • Location: Inside Ho Chi Minh complex
    • Hours: 8:00-18:00, Open every day
    • Dress code: Avoid wearing tank tops and shorts. It’s recommended to wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders to show respect for native culture.

    Some rules you may not know:

    • It’s necessary to line up to burn incense and be silent.
    • This pagoda is sacred, so it’s suitable to pray for your family and friends’ health, happiness, and success in life.
    • Bring a bottle of water in case you get thirsty during the visit.


    Today, the one-pillar pagoda looks different than it used to. The old wooden pillars have been replaced with concrete ones, and there is less decoration than before. The current version was built in 1955 as a reconstruction of the original.


    What is the One Pillar Pagoda?

    The One Pillar Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong.

    Why is it called the One Pillar Pagoda?

    The pagoda is built on a single pillar, which is made of wood and stands on a stone pedestal in the middle of a pond.

    What is the significance of the lotus blossom?

    The lotus blossom is a traditional Buddhist symbol of purity and enlightenment. The One Pillar Pagoda is designed to resemble a lotus blossom.

    Why is One Pillar Pagoda famous?

    One Pillar Pagoda is an unusual and unique structure that resembles a lotus flower, which happens to be Vietnam’s national flower. It is famously known as “the most unique pagoda in Asia.” The pagoda is located in a lake and has a square structure that sits on top of a stone pillar.

    When was the One Pillar Pagoda destroyed?

    The One Pillar Pagoda was destroyed in 1954 when Vietnam was no longer ruled by France. Only a stone pillar was left. The government rebuilt the pagoda in 1955 and it has been preserved since then.

    Why are pagodas so strong?

    The five-story pagoda is made entirely of wood. Wood is flexible and can bend and warp when put under force, but it is difficult to break. When the force is removed, the wood returns to its original shape. This flexibility allows the wood to absorb seismic stresses.

    Has the pagoda undergone renovations?

    Yes, the One Pillar Pagoda has undergone several renovations and restorations over the centuries. The most significant of these was in 1954, when the French colonialists destroyed the original structure during the First Indochina WaTake


    • Highlight the history of One Pillar Pagoda as a symbol of Hanoi and its unique architecture, shape and structure.
    • Describe the legend of Emperor Ly Thai Tong and Guan Yin Buddha, which led to the construction of the pagoda.
    • Elaborate on the restoration of the pagoda over the years, including the major renovation after it was destroyed by the French in 1954.
    • Mention the significance of the Bodhi tree gifted to Vietnam by the President of India, and its symbolism in Buddhism.
    • Emphasize the importance of showing respect for native culture when visiting One Pillar Pagoda, including dress code and behavior.
    • Highlight the significance of the lotus blossom in Buddhism and its representation in the design of the pagoda.
    • Describe the special place for people to pray inside the building, including the golden statue of Quan Am Bo Tat and other worship items.
    • Discuss the significance of the ritual of Bathing the Buddha and the releasing of birds, which takes place on the 8th of April in the lunar calendar.
    • Emphasize the sacredness of the pagoda and the importance of being silent and respectful when visiting.
    • Highlight the unique features and composition of the building, including the stone pedestal, the square structure, and the wooden pillar that resembles a lotus flower.

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