Thay Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam is located at the foot of Sai Son mountain in Quoc Oai district, Hanoi. The temple was established in the 11th century during the reign of Ly Nhan Tong of the Ly dynasty. It is dedicated to Vietnamese Thien master Tu Dao Hanh (1072-1116). Take a day bike tour Hanoi, cycling on the back roads to visit Thay pagoda as well as its surrounding villages.
Thay pagoda map
The pagoda is divided into three parts. The entrance hall is the prayer hall. The middle chamber has images of Buddhas surrounded by demons, made of lacquer and garbed in red-coloured attire. The back chamber has statues of the monk.
The temple has three dedications: to King Ly Than Tong (1127 to 1138), to Gautama Buddha and his eighteen arhats and to the Buddhist monk and Thien master Tu Dao Hanh. It is built in a typical Vietnamese architectural style. The main prayer hall of the temple has nearly 100 colourful images of different period. At the entrance to the shrine there are two large clay mixed papier-mâché images of the 7th century, each weighing about a ton; these are considered the largest such images in Vietnam.
The main hall contains the temple’s oldest image, dating from the temple’s foundation: a triptych of Buddha and disciples dating from the 16th century on a high pedestal. There is a 13th-century statue of bodhisattva seated on a lotus throne, which is a wooden statue draped in yellow. It was made in the likeness of the master Dao Hanh in a pensive mood. The statues of Tu Dao Hanh and his reincarnation in the form of Ly Thanh Tong are located in the hall next to each other.
Within the same temple complex there is a small shrine referred to as the “old temple”. It was founded by King Ly Thai To in 1132 and has been renovated several times.
There are two arched bridges connecting to the pagoda. Built in 1602, they are named Sun and Moon. One of these bridges leads to a small island, home to a small Taoist temple representing the elements of earth, air, and water. The second bridge leads to a limestone hill. Dao Hanh, during the last stage of his life, had walked up to this place and disappeared in a cave. This cave is located in the middle of roots of banyans and is hemmed between a small temple built in honour of the monk’s parents and a small pagoda. Both these are religious places from where there are lovely vistas of the entire valley. There is also a limestone grotto known as the hang Cac Co, “the Mischievous”.