The ancient pagoda of Van Nien
Van Nien Pagoda is on Lac Long Quan Road to the west of the West Lake in Hanoi. This thousand-year-old pagoda is known as one of the most famous and ancient ones in the old capital of Thang Long.
Van Nien Pagoda was constructed one year after the time King Ly Thai To move the capital from Hoa Lu of Ninh Binh province to Thang Long (now is Hanoi), in the 2nd Thuan Thien under the Ly Dynasty. In the past, Van Nien Pagoda was called Van Tue and situated in Quan La, Ve Ho village, Xuan La ward, Tay Ho district.
Old records show that in 1014, most venerable Monk Huu Nhai, Patriarch of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha told the King to establish a makeshift platform in this pagoda to organise rides for people who would like to follow the Buddhist religion. The King issued an edict to agree with the suggestion of a monk. This fact shows that the pagoda might be built before the Ly Dynasty because, at that time, it was one of the most favourite places for a plenty of venerable monks to stay to lead a religious life.
Van Nien Pagoda has five worshipping halls and three sanctums which connect into the shape of the Chinese letter “Ding”.
Like other pagodas in the north of Vietnam, the pagoda has 3 Buddhist Statues of the past, present and future that are placed at the highest and most solemn position; followed by Buddha Amitabha and Goddess of Mercy.
On the outside of Van Nien Pagoda, there is a new Buddha statue. On the roof of this pagoda, there are 3 letters of “Van Nien Tu” which mean the pagoda would exist forever.
Though the pagoda has experienced some restorations, it still maintains typical architectural objects and features which have a high historical and artistic value. You might see the wall of the main hall which was built with a typical type of brick in the Ly Dynasty.
It has a set of 46 round Statues, including 26 Buddha statues, 20 statues of Mother Goddesses and late patriarchs; 2 stone bells dated in the Nguyen Dynasty; 11 genie ordinances; and a lot of other worshipping objects.
Particularly, on the bell cast in the Gia Long Dynasty (1802-1820), there was a chronicle written that Van Nien Pagoda was an ancient relic and a beautiful spot in the West of the imperial capital of Thang Long.
Though the pagoda is not large, it is situated near the West Lake so it has a serene and spacious landscape. On the first or fifteenth day of the lunar months, a lot of people often go to the pagoda to pray for health, peace, and happiness.
With high values regarding history and culture, the pagoda was ranked as a cultural relic and national historical in 1996 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Over the years, the authority and people in Tay Ho District and Van Nien Pagoda’s master monk Thich Minh Tue have made joint efforts to preserve the ancient and unique beauty of this pagoda.