The national symbol of Hue is the Thien Mu Pagoda (“Heavenly Lady Pagoda”). Built in 1601, it is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. Located on the north bank of the Perfume River in Hue, a few miles SW of the Imperial Citadel, the pagoda stands 7 storeys high making it the tallest in country.
Near the entrance gate, there stand 12 large wooden sculptures of fearsome temple guardians, with real facial hair.
A complex of monastic buildings lies in the centre, where Buddhist monks conduct their daily routine of cooking, stacking wood, gardening and practicing their calligraphy.
At the far north end of the complex is a large cemetery at the base of the Truong Son Mountains and a well-kept garden of pine trees.
A building near the rear of the complex houses a national Vietnamese relic: the car in which the monk Thich Quang Duc rode from his temple to Saigon on June 11, 1963. He stepped out of the car in an intersection, sat down in the lotus position, and burned himself to death in protest against the regime’s violations of religious freedom.
The complex is open daily between 8am-5pm. Note that between 11:30am and 2pm, the monks are at lunch and the rear half of the complex is closed. Be prepared for wet weather and rain drop blurs on your camera lens!
For more information about the Thien Mu Pagoda, click on the link for wikipedia.