Location: Giac Vien Pagoda is located on
Lac Long Quan Street, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: It has the ancient
architecture of the pagodas built in the Nguyen Dynasty of the 19th century, and
typical characteristics of the southern area in terms of the architecture,
design and arrangement of the worshipping shrines.
In 1798, a monk who was in charge of taking care of the restoration of Giac Lam
Pagoda, built a small pavilion for his daily prayers, called Quan Am Cac (Kwan
Yin Pavilion). In the third year under king Tu Duc's reign (1850), the pavilion
was rebuilt and named Giac Vien Pagoda. When building Dam Sen Tourist Park, the
Management Board decided to preserve Giac Vien Pagoda intact and incorporate it
into the park, making the park more attractive due to its cultural-historical
value. Giac Vien Pagoda has typical features, of southern Vietnam. The main
shrine, also a big hall, is 360mï¿½ in area, and used to worship Buddha. To its
east and west, there are corridors, a room for the monks to prepare clothing
before assisting the Superior Monk, and a large and spacious compartment at the
rear. Along the corridors, there are small altars with worshipping items. In
particular, there are rows of wooden pillars engraved with parallel sentences.
The letters are carved delicately and painted with red lacquer and trimmed with
gold. Around them there are decorative designs of leaves and climbing plants.
All 153 statues in the pagoda are made of jack wood. The faces and postures of
the statues look honest and they are placed low, creating a close feeling
between them and the viewers. The most attractive items are 60 plates, which are
engraved on both sides made of jack wood. They are made with gold. The most
beautiful plate is engraved with 18 fat, honest and smiling Arhats, with each
riding on the back of a buffalo, a cow, a pig, a goat... Some plates are
engraved with birds, ducks, fish ... but all looking alive. Other plates are
carved with fruits popular in the South, such as coconut, mangos teen, durian,
rambutanï¿½ These wooden engravings are the only ones that have been kept intact
in Vietnam. The Buddhist spirit of the ancient Viet people, during their
migration south, accepted different religious tendencies and sects, on condition
that they were useful to society. This is clearly seen through the items
preserved at Giac Vien Pagoda. For this reason, Giac Vien Pagoda became a centre
for worshipping ceremonies and discussions on Buddhism of the six southern
provinces in the 19th century- a prosperous time for Buddhist followers and
talents whose works remain valuable until today. Giac Vien Pagoda has been
classified by the State as a cultural relic and a mini-museum of wooden
engravings of historical and artistic value. For this reason, it attracts a lot
of researchers and visitors all year round.