Situated on Ha Khe hill, on the north bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long village, about 5 kilometers from Hue city, Thien Mu Pagoda (so-called Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda in English), also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is one of the oldest and greatest pagoda in Hue.
The pagoda was built in 1601 by Lord Nguyen Hoang. Afterward, the pagoda was restored by the Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Thanh Thai. According to the royal annals, while Lord Nguyen Hoang was touring the vicinage, was told of the local legend in which an old lady, known as Thiên Mụ (literally “Celestial Lady”), dressed in red and blue sat at the site, rubbing her cheeks. She foretold that a lord would come and erect a pagoda on the hill to pray for the country’s prosperity. She then vanished after making her prophecy. Upon hearing this, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of Thien Mu Pagoda.
The pagoda’s most striking feature is Phuoc Duyen tower, initially called Tu Nhan tower. It was constructed in 1884 by King Thieu Tri to commemorate a Buddha who appeared on earth in human form. This octagonal tower consists of seven storeys, each of 2m high. It is the highest stupa in Vietnam and has become the unofficial symbol of Hue.
On the left of the tower, there is a pavilion sheltering a big bell, called Dai Hong Chung, cast in 1710 by Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. It is 2.5m high and 3,285 kg weigh. It is a great example of 18th century bronze casting.
On the right of the tower, there is another pavilion containing a stela of 2.58 m high, dating back from 1715. The stela is placed on the back of a giant marble turtle which is a symbol of longevity.
The pagoda is also famous for stunning artworks, for instance, Dai Hung shrine, the bronze gong cast in 1677, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s inscriptions dating back from 1714s.
Thien Mu pagoda is like a tropical garden of ornamental plants and flowers today. At the far end of the garden stretches a calm and romantic pine-tree forest. Visit the pagoda in the afternoon while the monks are praying inside the pagoda and enjoy the beautiful sunset on the Perfume River.