Gia Lam Pagoda is a beautiful religious attraction situated in Phu Tho Hoa region of Ho Chi Minh. Established in 1744, the temple is set amidst a lush garden, where a tall bodhi tree shades a statue of a bodhisattva. The main shrine is surrounded by precious wood pillars coated with gold inscriptions, and houses an imposing statue of Amitabha Buddha.
Giac Lam Pagoda is the oldest, and one of the most pristine Buddhist Pagodas located in Ho Chi Minh City. Locally known as Cam Son and Can Dien Pagoda, the translation of the temple's Chinese characters in its name means "Feel the Woods Temple". Giac Lam Pagoda is a beautiful and holy place, visited not only by Buddhists but people following different religions too, owing to its mesmerizing beauty and positive aura. As is common in many temples of Vietnam, some elements of Taoism and Confucianism can be found here along with Buddhism. This temple is beautifully constructed and the gardens that surround the place enhance the beauty of the Pagoda tenfold. All these factors make Giac Lam Pagoda a must visit, not only to pray and seek blessings, but to be enchanted by its grand architecture as well.
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How to Reach Giac Lam Pagoda
Giac Lam Pagoda is situated at 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District. The famous and pious temple can be reached easily from Cholon, which is located at a distance of 3 km, by either hailing a taxi or renting a motorbike. You can also reach Giac Lam Pagoda by catching a bus from Ben Thanh Bus Station that will drop you off at Lac Long Quan, from where this Pagoda is at a walking distance.
Giac Lam Pagoda, apart from being the oldest Buddhist Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, is a marvellous temple that is a must-visit to get an essence of the rich Buddhist history, culture and art that has influenced Vietnam over the years. This pious place with all its positivity will fill your heart with happiness.
Giac Lam Pagoda History
Giac Lam Pagoda was originally built as a gathering place for the Tet or Vietnamese New Year by a native of Minh Huong, Ly Thuy Long, in the year 1744. During this time, the Pagoda was surrounded by greenery and colourful flowers bloomed everywhere as it was undeveloped. Nonetheless, Giac Lam Pagoda looked mesmerizing and was an observation post from where the bustling Gia Dinh Market could be seen. In 1772, after the arrival of Monk Thich Lam Quang of the Lam Te Zen lineage, the Pagoda was renamed Giac Lam. This serene temple has been reconstructed and renovated a number of times over the years. Now the Pagoda, after so many years, is one of the most pristine and tranquil temples in Ho Chi Minh City.
Giac Lam Pagoda Architecture
Giac Lam Pagoda is a typical south Vietnamese Pagoda, consisting of 3 buildings inspired by the architectural styles of Khmer, Cham and Vietnamese along with elements of French, Chinese and Indian architecture. It is spread over a large area with a number of gardens replete with lush green trees. There are 98 pillars located in the Pagoda, adorned with 86 religious inscriptions, painted using real gold paint. On entering the Pagoda you will be greeted by dragons that look as if they might come to life any moment. The architecture of Giac Lam Pagoda is extremely mesmerizing and eye pleasing. The main stupa is seven-stories high and hexagonal-shaped, considered an important landmark of the city and the tallest Buddhist tower of Ho Chi Minh City. Over all, the Giac Lam Pagoda has about 38 towers, adding to the architectural grandeur of this holy area.
Giac Lam Pagoda Complex
Garden: The garden at Giac Lam Pagoda has a lot of lush green trees and colourful blooming flowers. A very special and sacred Bodhi Tree, gifted by the Sinhalese Theravada Buddhist Monk Narada from Sri Lanka in 1953, can be seen swaying with the wind in the front garden. A glistening statue of compassionate Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy, is situated near the tree on a lotus signifying purity and harmony.
Seven-storied stupa: A large stupa was constructed to preserve the various relics of Lord Buddha. A ceremony was organized by the Unified Buddhist Congregation of Vietnam in 1994 where in the relics that were previously kept in Long Can Temple in Binh Thanh were brought to this magnificent stupa. The stupa is built hexagonally and has seven storeys, each with tiled roofs and doors. With a height of 32 meters, it is the tallest Buddhist tower in Ho Chi Minh City.
Pagoda: The Pagoda covers a large area and has three halls, namely Ceremonial Hall, Dharma Preaching Hall and Meal Hall, each dedicated to a specific purpose. The ceremonial Hall is one of most beautifully built halls in Giac Lam Pagoda that will leave you awestruck. The halls comprises of huge pillars with intricate carvings and beautiful words. Beautiful and splendid idols of Buddhas including Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, and popular Bodhisattva concepts like Maitreya Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva and Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Around 118 ancient idols make of wood, bronze and cement are there in the temple, some of which are very valuable and showcase the rich Vietnamese art and sculpture history. The Dharma Preaching Hall is where monks preach to the people while meal Hall is built for the monks to have meals.
Stupas of abbots: A series of stupas are situated on the left side of the temple, dedicated to the head of the monks who have presided over the temple throughout the years. Some of them include Thich Vien Quang, Thich Hai Tinh, Thich Minh Vi, Thich Minh Khiem, Thich Nhu Loi and Thich Nhu Phong. These stupas are beautifully constructed and a delight to look at.
Dress code at Giac Lam Pagoda
While visiting Giac Lam Pagoda make sure you are modestly and comfortably dressed with your legs and arms covered as a form of respect to this pristine and pious temple.