Giac Lam Pagoda
Considered the oldest pagoda
in HCM City, Giac Lam was set up in the mid 18th century and restored in the
early 19th and 20th centuries. It creates a scenic spot in Phu Tho Hoa, Tan Binh
This pagoda used to be a
thatch-roofed wooden temple which Ly Thuy Long and his wife built for their
religious life. A few years later, an old monk of the Lam Te discipline visited
and was asked to stay and be their teacher. The pagoda has had a 230-year
history of eight chief monks.
The main section of the
pagoda is for worshipping A Di Da (Amitabha) Buddha, with Ca Diep (Casyape) on
his right and A Nan (Anand) on his left. Both are the great disciples of Thich
Ca Mau Ni (Sakyamuni) Buddha. In front of A Di Da are Sakyamuni, Maitreya and
bodhisattvas. At both sides of the walls, there are statues of 1810hans (arhats)
and 10 kings of the hell.
In front of the altar there
are 49 oil lamps and 49 statuettes of bodhisattvas. Buddhists pray here for
peacefulness and health. They write their names and their relatives' names on a
piece of paper and have it stuck on the grand bell. They believe that when the
bell is struck, its echoes go to heaven and hell, taking along their wishes.
Behind the main shrine is
the altar for worshipping the pagoda's head monks.
Giac Lam Pagoda has more
than 100 ancient statues, signboards and tablets with pictures of four kinds of
precious flowers and four species of sacred animals. In particular, there is a
pair of tablets decreed in 1804 by King Gia Long, and two parallel sentences
donated by Gia Dinh Citadel Governor Trinh Hoai Due.
The pagoda is surrounded by
50 ancient towers with ingenious sculptural lines. Its yard is paved with red
square tiles. Both sides of the pathway have many precious ornamental flowers
In front of the pagoda is a
big bodhi tree, a gift from Sri Lankan great monk Narada in 1953. In its shade
is the statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. On one side of the pagoda is a
white-flower ochna tree of about 100 years of age. In the front yard is a tower
for preserving the remains of monks after their cremation.
Giac Lam Pagoda has been
recognized as a national historic heritage site.