Giac Lam Pagoda is located at 565 Lac Long Quan Street, Ward 10, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. The pagoda was built by a Chinese named Ly Thuy Long in 1744. This is one of the oldest temples in Ho Chi Minh City and was recognized as National historical and cultural relic by the Ministry of Culture in 1988.
In 1744, in Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat time, the pagoda was built by Ly Thuy Long Buddhist of Minh Huong people (Minh Huong people were those who worshiped Ming Dynasty, did not submit to Qing Dynasty, they went everywhere to earn living). The pagoda was originally named Son Can.
In 1774, Zen Master Vien Quang came to manage the pagoda and changed the name of the pagoda to Giac Lam. In Zen Master Vien Quang time, Giac Lam Pagoda became a center training the monks and the nuns in Saigon and South Vietnam.
In 1873, under the management of Zen Master Minh Khiem, the pagoda was a place for printing, copying Buddhist books, using wood to carve Buddhist books and translating some Buddhist books into the Vietnamese language.
The pagoda has been renovated three times. Zen Master Vien Quang rebuilt the pagoda in 1798 –1804. In 1906–1909, the Venerable Hong Hung, with the help of the Venerable Nhu Phong, restored the pagoda. In early 1999, the pagoda was restored again.
Giac Lam pagoda has a Tam word (Ξ) architecture consisting of three successive horizontal houses: the main hall, the lecture house, and the dining house. The roof is covered with yin and yang tiles. The roof corners are straight, not curved as other pagodas. The original pagoda does not have a three-door gate. It was only built in 1955. In 2007, the pagoda built the lecture house and the monk house (on the right side of the pagoda – following the view from the inside out).
The main hall is a traditional folk house consisting of three compartments and two wings, four main pillars. Inside the main hall is quite wide and long. There are 56 big columns in dark brown. Every main column is decorated with a parallel sentence and carvings of birds and animals.
The front space of the main hall is a place worshiping Buddha. The altar in the middle has statues of Buddha Amitabha, Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Maitreya. Two altars on the left and right, there are statues of Bodhisattva Guan Yin and Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta. On both sides of the wall, there are eighteen statues of Arhats, a statue of The Hell King., a statue of Bodhi Dat Ma and a statue of Dragon King.
The backspace of the main hall is the worshiping place for the progenitors. The altar of the progenitors has the photos of the Venerable monks who managed Giac Lam pagoda before. Opposite the altar of the progenitors has altars: Buddha Standard, Amitabha Buddha, the Hell King.
In front of the main hall has a tower consisting of 7 hexagonal floors. The tower was constructed from 1970 according to Architect Vinh Hoang’s drawing, and in 1975, it was temporarily suspended until 1993. Since 1994, the 7th floor of the tower has worshiped Buddha’s relics.
To the left of the main hall is the tombs of the monks who were here, among them Zen Master Y-Linh Nhac, Zen Master Vien Quang. In addition, the pagoda yard also has a statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva under the shadow of the Bodhi tree. This tree was brought from Sri Lanka by Venerable Narada (Sri Lanka) to be planted on June 18, 1953.
In the pagoda, there are 113 ancient statues, mainly wooden statues, only 7 bronze statues. There are many valuable statues such as Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, Guan The Yin Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, the Nine Dragon statue (cast in bronze), the statue of Eighteen Arhat, the statue of the King of Hell, the statue of the Patriarch Dat Ma, the Dragon King statue. On the main columns of the pagoda, there are engraved parallel sentences (consisting of 86 sentences) elaborately golden.