Tu Hieu Pagoda, Hue - review by Rusty Compass
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Tu Hieu Pagoda, Hue

| 17 Nov 2011
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Tu Hieu Pagoda, Hue
Le Ngo Cat, Hue

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Our rating
17 Nov 2011

One of Hue's most important pagodas, Tu Hieu counts celebrated Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh amongst its alumni.

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Tu Hieu Pagoda’s convenient and picturesque location amidst pine forests nearby Tu Duc’s Tomb makes it a worthwhile stop. It’s one of Hue’s most atmospheric pagodas on account of its tranquil setting. Some interesting tales spring from its past as well.

Hue,Tu Hieu Pagoda,Vietnam
Photo: Mark BowyerTu Hieu Pagoda
Tu Hieu was established in 1842 and by 1848 had been directed to dedicate itself to the honouring of the souls of imperial eunuchs. Eunuchs are buried in the graveyard beside the pagoda.

Tu Hieu’s biggest claim to fame though is its connection with one of international Buddhism’s leading lights - Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh entered Tu Hieu Pagoda in the 1940s aged 16. By the 1960s he was one of the most active Buddhist voices on the world stage. He studied at Princeton University and taught at Columbia. He also lobbied the US Government to withdraw its forces from Vietnam. Martin Luther King was deeply impressed by Nhat Hanh and recommended him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps the greatest validation of his integrity was his ostracism by both the South Vietnamese government and then the Communists after 1975.

Hue,Vietnam,Tu Hieu Pagoda
Photo: Mark BowyerTu Hieu Pagoda, across the eunuch tombs
He has lived in exile in France since the 1960s and returned to Vietnam for the first time in decades in 2005. He has made a number of visits since then. The Vietnamese government has relaxed its attitude towards Nhat Hanh somewhat but his visits continue to be politically sensitive. On his 2005 inaugural return, he visited Tu Hieu Pagoda.

Travel tips
Tu Hieu is a convenient stop in conjunction with a visit to Tu Duc’s tomb. The monks here can be heard chanting at 10AM and 4PM.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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