Ton Thanh Pagoda

The ancient pagoda of Ton Thanh is located in My Loc Commune, Can Giuoc District, Long An Province. The 200 year-old pagoda is the place where Nguyen Dinh Chieu, a great poet and patriotic scholar lived and created the most celebrated works in Vietnamese literature.

According to history books, Ton Thanh Pagoda with its initial name of Lan Nha was built by Buddhist monk Vien Ngo in the year of the 7th Gia Long (1808). In the year of the 5th Thieu Tri, Buddhist monk Vien Ngo, who followed the Buddhist religion for 40 years but did not reach the peak of the way in his religion, decided to sit in meditation without drinking water for 49 days and then passed away. To commemorate the monk who devoted his whole life to the Buddhist religion, the locals call the pagoda Tang Ngo or Ong Ngo and Lao Ngo. 

Ton Thanh Pagoda is the oldest one in Long An Province.

According to “Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi” (Essays on the United Great Vietnam) Ton Thanh Pagoda was the most famous one
in Gia Dinh Area (in the past).

Despite being restored several times, Ton Thanh Pagoda built in 1808 retains its 19th century architectual style.

Beautiful patterns of the pagoda’s roof.

Visiting the pagoda, tourists have a chance to learn about the ancient architectural work and its historical value.
Sixteen years latter, Ton Thanh Pagoda became famous for being the place where poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu wrote “Van Te nghia si Can Giuoc” (Funeral Oration for the Partisans of Can Giuoc). During three years living in the pagoda, from 1859 to 1861, the blind poet wrote many literary works and made up medicine to treat the locals. In a surprise attack on Tay Duong Military Post in Truong Binh Market on the night of the 15th day of lunar calendar in the Year of Cock (1861), one of the three wings of Can Giuoc Insurgent Army started from Tan Thanh Pagoda. The insurgent army killed a mandarin of the French, called Hai Phu Lang Sa by the locals. Being moved and fired up by the courageous sacrifices of Can Giuoc soldiers, poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu created “Van te nghia si Can Giuoc” at Ton Thanh Pagoda.

At present, the relics of poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu and the “Van te nghia si Can Giuoc” are still preserved at the precinct of the pagoda. They are two steles, one about poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu built in 1973 and the second excerpting “Van te nghia si Can Gioc” built in 1998. In the garden of the pagoda, there are a three-story tower in the shape of hexagon, 4.5m high, of monk Vien Ngo with the highest storey inscribed with scripts “Glory to Buddha Amitabha” and a square three-storey Tower, 3m in height of Buddhist Monk Tac Thanh.

After being restored several times, the pagoda has experienced a lot of changes. It now consists of a complex of a worshiping hall, a sanctum, a preaching house and corridors in the west and the east. Particularly, the pagoda only preserves the old architectural style with a system of four pillars in the main sanctum, several Buddhist statues from the early 19th century, parallels and the most valuable statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva which is 110m high and is made from bronze.

The central chamber of Ton Thanh Pagoda.

The ancient bell in Ton Thanh Pagoda.

A row of Arhats inside Ton Thanh Pagoda.

Statue of the Great Buddha at the central chamber.

Statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

“Van Te nghia si Can Giuoc” (Funeral Oration for the Partisans of Can Giuoc) in Ton Thanh Pagoda.

A stele of  Nguyen Dinh Chieu in Ton Thanh Pagoda.

With historical values, Ton Thanh Pagoda has become a destination, attracting a large number of tourists.

Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat – Photo: Nguyen Luan