Anyone crossing the green park at the crossroads of Cach Mang Thang Tam and Nguyen Dinh Chieu Streets impressed by a huge statue of a monk sitting calmly in a fire. There is a story hidden behind the statue and this patriotic monk. Let learn about the Thich Quang Duc Memorial which is a brilliant gem in Ho Chi Minh City.
298 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. Click to view on Google Map. Thich Quang Duc Memorial (Thich Quang Duc Monument) is surrounded by Cach Mang Thang Tam, Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Ho Xuan Huong Streets.
The self-immolation of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc
John F. Kennedy once said: “No new picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one”. He mentioned the fact that the patriotic Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc self-immolated at the crossroad of Phan Dinh Phung and Le Van Duyet Streets on 11th June 1963. He aimed to protest to Diem’s South Vietnamese regime and its persecution of Buddhists, arresting many Buddhist faithful and ransacking pagodas to advance agenda of country’s Catholic minority.
The self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc was on front pages of most of the newspapers in the world. Even foreigners who had never known about Vietnam knew about this small country through the act of the brave monk. The photo of Thich Quang Duc burning himself by Journalist Malcolm Browne won the World Press Photo of the year 1963. President Ngo Dinh Diem and his government changed the policies, the burning led to a chain reaction. Thich Quang Duc monk has been elevated to the status of a Boddhisattva (Bo Tat) – an enlightened person who forgoes Nirvana to save others. His unburnt heart, also called Xá Lợi (Śarīra) is worshipped in the tower of Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda.
History of the memorial
Venerable Thich Quang Duc Stupa
After Thich Quang Duc died, Buddhists built a tower in the grounds of Embassy of Cambodia, at the crossroads of Cach Mang Thang Tam Street (called Le Van Duyet Street at that time) and Ho Xuan Huong Street to commemorate him. The tower is called Tháp Mộ Venerable Thich Quang Duc Stupa. The stupa has 2 pink and green tiled octagonal roofs with fire decoration around them. A lotus is placed on the top of the stupa. Carvings of Thich Quang Duc calmly sitting in the fire and the pink lotus are impressive parts of the corner.
The stupa is in the middle of a tiny garden with a few green trees providing shape, incense burner. The garden is surrounded by the green and yellow fence in the old Saigon style and the gate with steel doors and 2 pillars. 2 lines “Vì Đạo Thiêu Thân Vạn Hùng Uy Thiên Như Ý Nguyện” (Self-immolation for Buddhism, mighty and strong, Sky made it as purpose) and “Lưu Danh Bất Tử Bá Niên Chánh Khí Địa Sơn Hà” (Remembered, immortal, one hundred of year, righteous, earth mountain river) are engraved on 2 gate pillars.
Thich Quang Duc Memorial
On 6th November 2007, the ceremony to start the construction of the Thich Quang Duc Monument was organized solemnly at 70 – 72 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City where the Buddhist monk self-immolated in 1963.
On 18th September 2010, the Thich Quang Duc Memorial was inaugurated. The memorial covers an area of 1,850 m2 and has dozens of green trees and small lotus ponds. Located in the center of the green space, a statue illustrates the determination and resilience of one human being who has become a Boddhisattva and a hero of the country. The relief tells history and story about the protest against South Vietnam’s regime and the action of Thich Quang Duc.
Statue of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc
The center of the memorial is the statue of Thich Quang Duc was designed by the sculptor Vo Cong Thang who won the art competition “Thich Quang Duc statue and reliefs”. Mr. Banjerd Lekkong, known as “the golden hand of Thailand” made this statue from bronze, the frame of the statue is made from steel.
This statue of Thich Quang Duc is approximately 6 meters high, 12 tons weigh and has a diameter of about 4.5 meters. Thich Quang Duc was made to be calm and unconquerable in the fierce fire by the talented sculptor. He sits on a lotus and a round pedestal on which written “Bồ Tát Thích Quảng Đức 1897 – 1963” (Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc 1897 – 1963).
The pedestal and statue are placed on a about 1-m high round stone station with lotus flower pattern. They installed a system of lights to illuminate the statue at night.
The altar in front of the station is always full of flowers offered by Buddhists, Saigon people and visitors. Candles that never stop burning is similar to the fire in the patriotic monk, his love for the nation and Buddha. Incenses and kerosine lamps are always available. Visitors are free to burn incenses place them in the big incense burner in front of the altar.
The curved staircase leads to the 16 m long, 3 m high relief behind the statue – an impressive one at the memorial. The relief illustrates the story of Thich Quang Duc, Buddhism and the nation in the Vietnam War.
see lines of monks and Buddhists sitting on their knees and standing, praying while looking at burning monk Thich Quang Duc. On the right is the scene of Saigon people including women and the elderly fighting for nationality, Buddhism, and peace.
The memorial has nearly 1,850 square meter garden with lotus pond, walking paths, green trees and grass. The species of trees in the garden include Areca Catechu (cau hương), Roystonea regia (cau vua), Plumeria (cây hoa sứ), Wrightia religiosa (mai chiếu thủy), Banian (cây đa)
A Hidden Gems
Thich Quang Duc Memorial has become a favorite place of Saigon people for taking a rest, calming themselves, breathing in fresh air, praying for good luck and happiness. As mentioned above, visitors can burn the incenses and insert them into the large burners in front of the statue to show the respect to Thich Quang Duc.
Today, Thich Quang Duc Memorial is more and more famous with tourists thanks to the green space, the heart-broken story about the patriotic Buddhist monk, the unique statue and relief. Travelers can go to the memorial themselves or book a tour including a stop at the attraction.
If you would like to drive around Saigon and see iconic sights of the city and listen to history, do not hesitate to book a Ho Chi Minh motorbike tour with Tracy’s team. The Thich Quang Duc memorial will be one of the destinations.
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