Thien Mu pagoda or Heavenly Lady pagoda was built in 1601, on a hill overlooking the Perfume river, 4km southwest of the Citadel, this pagoda is an icon of Vietnam as well as Hue citadel. It is considered as one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. The name of the pagoda came from a legend that an old woman once appeared on the hill and said that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Hearing of this, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda for the “Heavenly Lady” (Thien Mu). Therefore, the pagoda was originally founded by Lord Nguyen Hoang, governor of Thuan Hoa province. This construction also was damaged and renovated several times over centuries.
In the front of the complex we can see the 21m-high octagonal Phuoc Duyen Tower which was built under the emperor Thieu Tri in 1844 with seven levels, each of its seven storeys is dedicated to a manushi-buddha (a Buddha that appeared in human form). Next step is Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, which presents a magnificent architecture. Near the entrance gate are 12 huge wooden sculptures of fearsome temple guardians, with real facial hair. The great bell (2.5m high, 2052kg) from 1710 and tortoise with inscribed stele (2.58 m high) from 1715 are housed in the main building. A complex of monastic buildings lies in the center, where the monks are usually involved in their daily routines of cooking, stacking wood, and whacking weeds.
The best time to visit is in the early morning, before the tour group shows up when you can witness the mystical and ancient beauty of this pagoda.