At the end of the 17th century, Zen Master Minh Hai of China established Chuc Thanh Pagoda. It is known as the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Hoi An, which represents the combination between Vietnamese and Chinese architectural design. Chuc Thanh Pagoda is also considered the birthplace of the “Thien Tam Te” religion.
- Location: Cam Pho ward, Hoi An town, Quang Nam province - Da Nang
Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00
I. History of Chuc Thanh Pagoda
Zen Master Minh Hai is originally from Quanzhou, Fujian, China. In 1687, at the invitation of Lord Nguyen Phuc Tran, he was one of 10 Chinese monks attended the Great Forum of Dharma propagation in Hue.
After that, the monks went to various places to spread Buddhism, and Zen Minh Hai came to Hoi An. He chose a desolate place that was 1km higher from the ancient town of Hoi An to found the Lam Te Chuc Thanh Buddhist sect. Therefore, the pagoda is also known as Chuc Thanh Family.
This sect is increasingly developing and up to now has established more than a hundred temples across the country as well as some neighboring countries.
II. Highlights of Chuc Thanh pagoda
Chuc Thanh Pagoda faces to the southwest, nestled under the shade of the giant trees, with a majestic but ancient look. The pagoda has a “Tam” type architecture – a common architectural style of temples in Vietnam. The pagoda has a system of worshiping statues that are meticulously and exquisitely carved, showing the invaluable skills of Vietnamese carvers.
1. The Outside Area
Upon entering the temple, visitors will feel the extremely sacred atmosphere. Tam Quan Gate roof is covered in moss, with 2 sophisticatedly carved lions facing each other on top. Crossing the Tam Quan, you will see the flower basin, the ancient tower area and the footpath with the statue of Lady Buddha above.
2. The Main Hall
The majestic main hall is located in the middle of the pagoda, built superficially with a sturdy system of trusses to provide open space. The roof of the pagoda is yin-yang tile, and above that, there is a pair of dragon and phoenix with meticulous and delicate patterns. The eaves of the roof are engraved with the image of Buddha Shakyamuni from birth to death.
3. Inside The Main Hall
Stepping inside the hall, you can see the statue of the Three Worlds at the top of the altar. In the lower table placed the statue of Maitreya Buddha, the statue of A Nan, Ca Diếp, the statue of Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra, and finally the statue of 18 Arhats.
The two sides of the altar are the statues of Ho Phap and Tieu Dien. In addition, the main hall also has a system of large and small drums, bells and a wide range of parallel sentences.
Next to the main hall is Tien Duong with 4 large steles recording the restoration of the pagoda, bearing the names of the pagodas and the faithful buddies who have contributed to building the pagoda.
4. The Innermost Area
In the innermost area, behind the main hall, you will find the place to worship Duc Jizō, Pho Lien Hoa and Ai So Than. The two sides are the Eastern statue the Western statue.
Going through an open courtyard with many precious ornamental plants, you will find your way to To Duong. The To Duong House, built quite simply, is the place where the ancestors and abbot of the pagoda have been placed for generations. The system of name cards is also sculpted in a very sophisticated and elaborate manner to show the talented hands of the ancient artisans.
III. Traditional Rituals
On November 7th annually, all the monks in Quang Nam will gather here to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the Patriarch. In particular, every 3 years, in the years of Tiger, Snake, Body, Pig, monks of the Chuc Thanh sect will attend the Father’s Day Feast as well as a meeting to discuss the Buddhist work of the disciples .
IV. How to Get to Chuc Thanh Pagoda
From the ancient town of Hoi An, it’s only 1.5 kilometers to Chuc Thanh Pagoeda. Therefore, you can either follow Google Maps to walk or ride a bike there, or you can call a cyclo or a taxi.
V. Extra Tips When Visiting Chuc Thanh Pagoda
- If you visit by a motorbike or a bike, make sure you bring a lock.
- Bring a bottle of water in case you’re thirsty during the visit.
- Since it’s a religious and quiet place, you should not wear the summer type, revealing outfits like tank tops, tennis skirts and shorts,…The best option is plain and simple jeans and T-shirt, which makes it more comfortable for you to explore, while still showing your respect for the place.