Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was built in 545 A.D. on the banks of the Red River but it was moved to its current location on a peninsula in West Lake in the early 17th century.
The outer wall of the pagoda is painted vibrant yellow and red with bonsai trees spaced along the wall. Bonsai trees are also seen within the pagoda grounds.
The most prominent structure in the complex is the 15 meter tall main pagoda. It is made up of eleven levels which each level has six arched doorways and a Buddha statue positioned in the archway.
The other main buildings are the museum housing historic relics and the incense burning house.
On the outside of the buildings there are many brightly colored flags hanging in front of the columns. These colorful flags have been used for thousands of years in religious sites throughout Vietnam. The five colors of green, red, yellow, white and purple corresponds to the five elements.
Stone turtles with stone tablets can be found in some places in Vietnam. The turtle is chosen because it is the symbol of longevity, strength and intelligence. The stone tablets can be used for different purposes but this tablet inscribes the teachings of past monks who studied and were ordained at the temple.
One of the special highlights of the pagoda is that after dark the lighting in the main pagoda changes colors between pink, red, yellow, green, aqua, blue and purple. These color changes can be seen in the following photos.
Visiting Tran Quoc Pagoda doesn’t take a lot of time because it is a small pagoda with a limited amount to see but it is over 1500 years old and it is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi which make it an interesting place to see.
The pagoda grounds set into West Lake and completely surrounded by water with a walkway connecting it to the lake shore. Being located in the lake makes the pagoda grounds calm and relaxing to visit.
The highlight of the pagoda is the six sided 15 meter tall pagoda. The pagoda is separated in 11 levels with a small Buddha sitting in an archway on each of the six sides on all 11 levels. This kind of pagoda is something that I have not seen anywhere else and the changing colors makes the pagoda really pretty at night.
Any visit to Hanoi should include a visit to see Tran Quoc Pagoda!