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Golden Lotus floats on West Lake (September 13, 2005)

Kim Lien pagoda.
Kim Lien (golden lotus) on the bank of Ho Tay (West Lake) is described as the most beautiful pagoda in Hanoi.

Away from the noises of the city, the pagoda’s location makes it a more serene and an ideal spot to watch the sunset. From the lake the pagoda looks like a golden lotus, floating on the water’s surface.

Kim Lien Pagoda is also known as Nghi Tam (as it belonged to the former village of Nghi Tam), Dai Bi, Dong Long or Tu Hoa Pagoda.

It has been said that in the 12th century, Princess Tu Hoa, a daughter of King Ly Than Tong who reigned between 1128 and 1138, moved to Nghi Tam Village to teach the villagers to cultivate mulberries, raise silkworms and weave silk.

After she died, villagers erected a pagoda in 1631 on the foundation of Tu Hoa Palace, which the king had built for the princess, to worship Buddha and Tu Hoa. Seven years later, they further enlarged the pagoda.

The pagoda was renovated many times in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1711 Lord Trinh Sam ordered a large-scale renovation of the pagoda and renamed it as Kim Lien.

Apart from Buddha and Princess Tu Hoa, Kim Lien Pagoda is dedicated to Lords Trinh Giang and Trinh Sam, who both backed the pagoda’s upgrades.

Unlike many other pagodas, Kim Lien has a wooden entrance gate of three arches of sophisticated and intricate architecture. The gate, also known as cong tam quan, has two stories with eight roofs with ngoi mui hai (tiles with curved tops) and sword shapes on the edges.

Researchers say that Kim Lien’s tam quan looks like the gates of the royal palaces of the Le Kings and the Trinh Lords. Passing through the tam quan, you reach a spacious ground with a garden with different flowers and trees.

The pagoda has three lines of houses, called Ha (lower), Trung (middle) and Thuong (upper), arranged according to the Chinese character Tam (which means three). This differentiates Kim Lien from most of the pagodas in the north, whose architecture is modelled on the Chinese characters Dinh, Cong or Nhat.

The Ha consists of five rooms and six lines of pillars supporting two stories with eight roofs. Dragon heads embellish the tops of the roofs. All pillars, frames and beams carry designs of lotus flowers, leaves, clouds and dragons in line with the architectural style of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Trung has two rooms and again two stories and eight roofs. The Trung is smaller but higher than the Ha. Finally, the Thuong is similar to the Ha. A system of bronze spouts for rainwater connects the three houses.

Inside the pagoda, the most impressive are the statues of A Di Da (Amitabha) and Quan Am (Bodhisattva Kwan Yin) sitting on three-layer lotus-shaped thrones.

Behind the pagoda is a house with simple architecture used to worship the monks who led the pagoda during the past centuries.

Right next to the pagoda stands a memorial to commemorate those who died in the war. Some visitors may find it surprising that a secular monument stands right next to a religious site but in fact, Vietnam’s Buddhist beliefs are sometimes linked to its nationalist movements.

To get to Kim Lien Pagoda, turn from Thanh Nien Street to continue walking on Yen Phu Dike for almost one kilometre before reaching the pagoda in Nghi Tam Ward in Tay Ho District.

Reprinted from VietNamNet


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