Location: Tu Dam Pagoda is located in the
Truong An Ward, 2km from the centre of Hue City, along Dien Bien Phu Street,
across Nam Giao Bridge up to the end of the first slope.
Characteristic: Tu Dam Pagoda was designed following the model of a
Conference Pagoda (Chua Hoi). The old and new architectures blend together
creating spacious and harmonious elements.
Tu Dam Pagoda is one of the biggest and oldest pagodas in Hue. The pagoda was
founded at the end of the 17th century (in about 1695) by the Venerable Minh
Hoang Tu Dung, a Chinese who belonged to the 34th sect of the Lam Te school of
Zen. He was the high-ranking monk who taught and gave the certification to monk
Lieu Quan, the Buddhist initiator of Vietnam in the south. Tu Dam Pagoda is
famous and nationally known for its important role in the process of development
of Buddhism, and the struggle for peace and for freedom of religion. Tu Dam
Pagoda is on a beautiful piece of land: high, wide and flat. It has a south-east
orientation. Kim Phung Mount in the front served as a natural wind-screen. Linh
Quang Pagoda and the temple dedicated to respectable patriot Phan Boi Chau stand
on the left and Thien Minh Pagoda in the back. The three main parts of the
pagoda are the three entrance-gate, the main sanctuary and the conference House.
The gate is high and wide with a tiled roof. Just inside the gate is a big bodhi
tree, providing shadow all year around. As a branch, this bodhi tree was taken
right from the bodhi tree under which Buddha reached Nirvana. Mrs Karpeies, Head
of the French Buddhist Association, brought it back from India as a present
offered to the pagoda and planted it there in 1936. The pagoda yard was built on
a very large surface so that it can provide enough space for thousands of
people. Every year, on Buddha's birthday, it is a gathering place where many
important and most crowded festivals of Hue’s Buddhists take place. The main
sanctuary consists of a service hall and an ancestors' altar. The service hall
was built on a marble foundation 1.5m high with an old style roof forming a
towering and impressive Pagoda. On the edge and top of the roof are many
curving, gentle, symmetric pairs of dragons creating a well-balanced and
harmonious beauty. Under the ancient roof are frescoes telling Buddha’s stories.
Many long couplets are hung on the pillars of the Service hall. The building is
flanked by two stele and drum towers. Tu Dam Pagoda worships one Buddha only, so
that its appointments are rather simpler than that of other pagodas in Hue. In
the temple, there is a Buddha Sakyamuni sitting on a lotus pedestal. There are
an ancestors’ altar house and a monks’ house behind the main temple. The two
stories Conference Hall is large and wide building with 10 rooms to meet the
requirements of a Conference Pagoda.