Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda is one of the highest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. The pagoda attracts tourists because of the beauty of the landscape and architectural beauty. It becomes a popular destination for all locals and visitors.
Originally, after the 1963 coup in South Vietnam, the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam (UBCV) was established and was then given a 4 ha land by the interim government of the Republic of Vietnam. The government of General Nguyen Khanh also offered VND 10 million to build a pagoda.
The first stone putting celebration happened at 8 am on April 26, 1964, under the witness of the Most Venerable Monks of the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam along with the witness of the Fuhrer, also the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam, General Nguyen Khanh.
Architect Ngo Viet Thu was the one who drew the construction plan, expected the pagoda having a 7-floor curved roof tower, carved cleverly in spacious natural space on a land of 40 thousand square meters, with the unique and harmonious landscapes with bold Vietnamese architectural style.
The workers built the 7-floor tower and a row house for monks but not yet completed. The pagoda was also the headquarters of the UBCV until 1975 with the first abbot, Thich Thien Hoa. This was a pagoda belonging to the Northern tradition, gathering mainly Buddhist monks from the North.
In 1965, the Most Venerable Monk Thich Tu Nhon was elected to take over abbot position until his death (2013). In 1967, Venerable Thich Tam Chau established Phuong Nam University Institute in the pagoda campus. Quach Thi Trang orphanage managed by the temple was located behind the pagoda.
1975 until now
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the entire the Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda of the UBCV was seized by the new government of South Vietnam: 40,000 m2 of original land were reduced to the only 3,000m2, where the tower was located. The temple was entrusted to the Most Venerable Thich Tu Nhon.
In 1988, the Most Venerable Monk Thich Tu Nhon, in the name of the old abbot, sent the application to ask for the land of the Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda. After 5 years, until February 28, 1993, the state granted the monk Thich Tu Nhon according to the application but the temple’s land was narrowed to 3,712 m2.
In 1993, the pagoda was renovated with many more items. After more than 10 years of receiving the pagoda, it completed the 7-floor tower and the Buddha’s scenes for Buddhist monks, nuns and visitors to the pagoda to pray. However, the pagoda yard was often occupied as a place to sell divination books.
In 1914, Ho Chi Minh City authorities recovered and handed more land to the temple. At this time, the pagoda’s campus has a total area of 7,200 m2. The pagoda was started to built newly on October 12, 2014. On November 7, 2017, the project of the Viet Nam Quoc Tu was officially inaugurated. The total investment cost for the project was VND 250 billion.
Southern University Institute
This university was formed in 1967, in the context of Southern Buddhism divided into 2 groups: the Viet Nam Quoc Tu group and the An Quang Group.
Southern University Institute has 3 faculties:
– Department of Economics – Commerce.
– Department of Foreign Languages.
– Department of literature
The first director was Professor Le Kim Ngan. In the 1970s, the Southern University Institute had 750 students enrolling.
The overall architecture of Viet Nam Quoc Tu Pagoda on the 7,200 m2 campus consists of the three-entrance gate, the main building, the 13-floor precious tower, Phuong Nam University Institute, Quach Thi Trang Orphanage, shrines and Buddha statues in the pagoda yard.
Viet Nam Quoc Tu is a large religious architectural work, which is invested in construction carefully. The large and small architectural items are built sophisticatedly, showing the style of ancient Vietnamese pagoda style.
The 13-floor tower is on the right and in front of the main building. The tower is 63 m2 high and has a curved roof with red yin and yang tiles. Thirteen tower floors symbolize 13 organizations, associations and sects participating in the Buddhist non-violent struggle for religious peace and equality in the South in 1963. In the tower has a big bell weighing 3 ton, 2.9 m high.
The main building is built according to the architecture of the ancient pagoda in the North with the yellow color mainly and the red-brown tile roof. The roof of the pagoda is built on many floors, the top of the roof is clawed with the head of a knife, and is sculpted with a very delicate dragon head.
The main building has 5 floors: basement with 850 m2 used for parking lot, the first floor with 730 m2 for meeting hall, the second with 885 m2 for the rule of Buddhism office, the third floor for 15 practicing rooms, the fourth floor for the main hall with 2,427 m2 and ancestor hall with 1,087 m2. In the main hall, there is a bronze Buddha statue, weighing 35 tons, 7.5m high made by artisans in Y Yen, Nam Dinh.