An Quang Pagoda, also known as An Quang Ancestral Temple, plays an important role in the development of Vietnamese Buddhism. The pagoda has witnessed many ups and downs and the development of Buddhism in Vietnam. It was the headquarters of Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, has been the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Sangha now. In addition, the pagoda is a site of the Institute for Dharma Propagation.
Location: 243 Su Van Hanh Street, Ward 9, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. CLICK HERE to see the location of the pagoda on Google Maps. An Quang Pagoda is about 4 km from Ben Thanh Market so visitors can reach it easily from central districts of the city.
Opening hours: 5:00 – 12:00; 13:30 – 20:30.
In 1948, a small pagoda with dried leaf roof and a total area of 500 m2 was built by Buddhist monk Thich Thien Tri from Linh Ung Pagoda, Da Nang City. It was named Ung Quang Tu and functioned as a Buddhist school where the founder taught young monks.
In 1950, Buddhist monk Thich Thien Hoa returned to Vietnam after studying abroad and delegated to the authority to organize and manage Ung Quang Pagoda. He built the Main Hall’s building according to the design of Tu Dam Pagoda in Hue.
In 1950, Buddhist monk Thich Tri Huu called to join Lien Hai, Mai Son, Sung Duc and Ung Quang into Nam Viet Buddhist School. Ung Quang Pagoda was renamed An Quang Pagoda and became the headquarters of Nam Viet Buddhist School. On 14th and 15th July 1953, An Quang Pagoda was inaugurated solemnly.
The Ancestral House and dining room were built in 1955. The pagoda built Golden Lotus Printing House, Bodhi Incense Factory, Library, Publishing House and Huong Dao Issuing House in 1956 and 1957. The Lecture Hall was restored and rebuilt in 1959, the Main Hall was restored in 1966, dining room and rooms for monks were restored in 1967.
In 2006, Ancestral House, Dining Room and monks’ rooms were rebuilt. In 2009, the tower on the left of the main gate. In 2011, the Reception Room was built.
Thich Thien Hoa monk had the talented Nguyen Huu Thien design the building. The design was inspired by Tu Dam Pagoda in Hue, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and Japanese architectures.
Artist Truong Van Thanh Buddhist monk Truong Dinh Y – professor at Gia Dinh Arts Practice School (former name of Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Arts) was responsible for the interior design, decoration and carved artwork at the pagoda.
On the left corner of the garden is the tower, Lecture Hall. On the right are the Cultural Store, Reception Room and Guanyin Stupa. The Main Building (Buddha Hall on the first floor) faces the main gate, the Ancestral House is behind the Main Hall. Monks’ rooms are on the left of the Ancestral House.
An Quang Pagoda has two gates, both of them are on Su Van Hanh Street. The feature stone tile square gate pillars have a height of 5 m, a width of 1.15 m and a length of 1.62 m. Two pillars of each gate are not equal, on the bigger pillar there are yellow dharma wheels, a miniature of Bodhi tower in brown color, four green lions looking to different directions.
The main building has two floors and three arched entrances, decorated with red and green dragon, cloud and lotus petal ornaments, faces the main gate. The green-tiled roofs are curved upward and decorated with red dragon ornaments at the eaves, a red dharma wheel ornament on the top of the upper roof, a Swastika ornament on the lower roof. There is a small concrete traditional Buddhist monk’s hat at the back of the roof.
The ground floor was used as the headquarters of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam from 1965 to 1980. It has been the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Sangha City since 1981. The pagoda is also a place of reconciliation between the government, the Communist Party and the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
In the back of the ground floor is placed a wooden statue of Maitreya Buddha, two statues of lions in front of a carved wood panel with golden characters and a pair of carved wood panels with parallel sentences.
First floor – Main Hall
In the spacious Main Hall are worshiped the concrete statue of Gautama Buddha in meditation made by Buddhist Minh Dung and a Buddha’s relics stupa. The walls are decorated with relieves about Buddha’s life. Passing through one of two entrances, visitors see two statues of Dharmapala, the wooden statue of Bodhidharma and lacquer paintings depicting Guanyin, Bodhisattva Manjushri, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra created by artist Truong Van Thanh.
The Ancestral House is behind the main building, it is the place where ancestors are worshiped. Altars, panels, doors are made of wood so that the house is warm and cozy.
In 2009, the stupa was built to respect the wisdom of Gautama Buddha, Ksitigarbha, Guanyin and Buddha’s relics. The cost of the stupa was 4 billion VND. The square stupa has seven floor and a small round seven-story stupa on the top. Green and brown colors dominate the stupa. Similar to the roofs of many Vietnamese pagodas, temples and stupas, the roofs of the stupa at An Quang Pagoda is curved upward and decorated with cloud ornaments at the eaves.
Thien Hoa Lecture Hall
Thien Hoa Lecture Hall has two floors, the windows are painted five colors, the doors are made of iron and glass, with wrought iron lotus ornaments. There are a dharma wheel on the facade, a Swastika on the top of the building.
Management Board Office
The Reception Room or Reception Office is a mix of Vietnamese and Japanese architecture is the place to welcom visitors.
Cultural Store is located on the ground floor of the three-story building. The store sells Buddhist books, Buddhist cultural products, tocsins made in Hue, China, Japan, Buddha statues, ceramics, Buddhist prayer beads, DVD disks, robes, etc. Other rooms on the upper floors are used for various purposes.
Opening hours: 7:30 – 11:30; 13:30 – 17:30 from Tuesday to Sunday.
On the left of the cultural store, there is a narrow staircase leading to the place to worship Guanyin on the top floor. Coming here, visitors can relax in a peaceful and calm space, enjoy the fresh air, have a great view of the entire pagoda and walk under the lines of colorful lanterns.
Summary of An Quang Pagoda
An Quang Pagoda is one of the top pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to its role in the development of Vietnamese and Ho Chi Minh City Buddhism for over 70 years. It has been the base of Buddhist organizations and the Institue of Buddhism in the city. Furthermore, a religious place with beautiful architecture, delicate interior designed by famous Vietnamese artists are worth visiting. It is a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle Saigon and forget about all your problems.