Hanoi, one of the ancient capitals in the world, is the capital of Vietnam. The largest city in Vietnam, Hanoi is a fascinating blend of East and West with the combination of the traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs with French flair.
Hanoi (Vietnamese: Hà Nội), Hà means City while Nội means river. To be Vietnamese, this symbolise the meaning of City in the River.
Our first stop upon arrival, local shop for the popular Phở, Vietnamese noodle soup with broth, rice noodles called banh pho and meat (choice of beef, phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). Phở is a popular Vietnamese street food that originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam which was later popularised to the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. A perfect way to start our next 9 days of adventure in this beautiful country.
Next stop, Trấn Quốc Pagoda (Vietnamese: Chùa Trấn Quốc). One of the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Trấn Quốc Pagoda is located on a small island near the southeastern shore of Hanoi’s West Lake.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda, is originally constructed in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Lý Nam Đế, thus giving Trấn Quốc Pagoda an age of more than 1,450 years. Originally founded under the name Khai Quoc (National Founding), it was sited on the shores of the Red River, outside of Yen Phu Dyke. The temple was later relocated in 1615 to Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) islet of Ho Tay (West Lake) where it is now situated.
The most important part of the temple is the pagoda, for its holds on the important monk’s ashes. Most of the pagodas are made in the 17th century but the tallest pagoda was remade in 2004. The pagodas are red in colour because of the Chinese and Vietnamese culture red which symbolised luck and prosperity.
There is a great deal of Buddhist symbolism at Trấn Quốc Pagoda. The eight-spoked wheel that is the symbol of Buddhism represents the Noble Eight-fold Path. At the Trấn Quốc Pagoda, one is able to see many lotus flower statues which symbolize purity of the mind, body and speech. The stone wall at the side of the pagoda has multiple carvings of lotus flowers engraved in the stones which express the beauty of nature in Vietnam.
It is said that the historic relics are statuary pieces from as far as 1639.
On the grounds of Trấn Quốc Pagoda, there is a Bodhi Tree that is said to be cut from the original tree in Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment. The gift was made in 1959, when the Indian president Rajendra Prasad visited.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda, they also worship female Buddhas, also known as the ‘Mothers’. Their shrines are located in the front of the courtyard. It is said that these ‘Mothers’ are goddesses that have been worshipped in Vietnam way before Buddha.
The Green Mother has domain over mountains and forests which the White Mother domain over the water. Last but not least, the Red Mother has domain over the sky.
Trấn Quốc Pagoda is definitely a place not to be missed when one is visiting Hanoi.
Now, off we head to our next destination of the day. Stay tune!
Our memorable holiday to Vietnam is arranged by the friendly and helpful team at Hanoi Boutique Hotel