Officially known as Nam Thien Nhat Tru, most of the people call this Buddhist temple the One Pillar Pagoda of Thu Duc (Chua Mot Cot Thu Duc; 1/91 Ð Nguyen Du, Thu Duc district). Modelled on Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda, the structure is similar but not the same , consisting of a small, one-room temple hall rising on a pillar above a pond, consisting of a multiarmed image of Quan Am, Goddess of Mercy. There are tombs at the rear of the compound which hold urns including bones of monks and other Buddhist faithful.
Hanoi’s original pagoda was constructed in the 11th century but rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. As Vietnam was partitioned during the same year, a lot of Buddhist monks and Catholic priests fled south to avoid persecution they might get . Thich Tri Dung, who is a monk from Hanoi, petitioned the South Vietnamese government for permission to construct a replica of Hanoi’s famous One Pillar Pagoda. However, it was not allowed by President Ngo Dinh Diem, who is a Catholic with little tolerance for Buddhist clergy. However , a fund was raised by Thich and his supporters and they constructed the pagoda in 1958, in defiance of the president’s orders.
At one point the Diem government asked the monks to damage the temple yet they didn’t agree to do this , despite being threatened with imprisonment. Faced with huge opposition, the government’s dispute with the monks reached a standoff. However, the president’s efforts to harass and intimidate the monks in a country that was 90% Buddhist did not go down well and ultimately contributed to Diem’s assassination by his own troops in 1963.
It is 15km northeast of the pagoda from central Hochiminh city . Traveller cafes and travel agencies in HCMC should be able to put together a customised tour to the pagoda or to get a car and driver for you.