It is a pagoda of Tao Dong Buddhist sect which founder was monk Thuy Nguyet in the 16th century. Monk Thuy Nguyet used to impart his Buddhist knowledge in pagodas around West Lake.
The architecture of the pagoda is impregnated with folk style.
Legend has it that in the 13th century, Prince Uy Linh Lang, the son of King Tran Nhan Tong and Queen Minh Duc, sought his parents’ permission repeatedly to become a Buddhist monk but repeatedly he was denied. The Prince then ordered to build a small pavilion on the side of the West Lake as a place for reading and meditation, declaiming poetry, exchanging literature and martial arts showing with his friends. In 1287, the Yuan – Mongol emperor launched the third invasion of the country, Prince Uy Linh Lang joined the army and achieved numerous military feats.
When the prince passed away in 1300, the King commanded to build Nhat Chieu temple (present-day Nhat Tan temple) in the memory of the prince. Also in the foundation of the pavilion, people built a shrine in his remembrance. At the beginning of the Le dynasty (15th century), the rustic shrine was renovated and built bigger to become Tao Sach pagoda (meaning Reading Book Under the Sun).
The pagoda’s architecture follows the traditional pattern of three-arch gate, bell tower, the multi-chamber layout consisting of ceremonial chamber, contemplation chamber, the Mother Goddess-worshipping chamber and Guanyin-worshipping hall. In particular, the pagoda also preserves many valuable documents in Chinese-transcribed Vietnamese and relics of high art such as 42 parallel sentences (39 parallel sentences in Chinese, 3 parallel sentences in Chinese-transcribed Vietnamese); 23 horizontal lacquered boards; 2 bells, one of which casted in the 3rd year of Minh Mang era (1822).
Tao Sach pagoda is one of the ancient pagodas in Hanoi that still retain the old beauty.
The pagoda is housing 29 epitaphs, of which 12 erected in the 16th year of Bao Dai era (1941), especially the stele “Linh Son tu ki niem bi ki” (recording the memories of Linh Son pagoda) carved with the pattern of “two dragons flanking a moon” on the top and eye-catching decorative designs around the edging; more than 40 statues of Buddha, Mother Goddesses, which most of them bear the art style in the 19th – 20th centuries, 3 statues of “Tam The” made in the late 18th century.
Apart from worshiping the Buddha, Tao Sach pagoda is also the head office of Hoa Nghiem, a Buddhist charitable association. Tao Sach pagoda is one of the ancient pagodas in Hanoi that still retain the old and dignified beauty of Buddhism, attracting many tourists and pupils to visit and read books. In 1994, the pagoda was recognized as national historical-cultural monument.