Giac Lam Pagoda was built in 1744, under the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Unlike many other local religious structures, it has not been renovated since 1900; the architecture, layout, and ornamentation remain almost unaltered.
Location: Giac Lam Pagoda (also known as the Cam Son or Cam Dien Pagoda) is located at 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: Giac Lam Pagoda was built in 1744, under the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Unlike many other local religious structures, it has not been renovated since 1900; the architecture, layout, and ornamentation remain almost unaltered.
Considered the oldest pagoda in HCM City, Giac Lam was set up in the mid 18th century and restored in the early 19th and 20th centuries. It creates a scenic spot in Phu Tho Hoa, Tan Binh District.
This pagoda used to be a thatch-roofed wooden temple which Ly Thuy Long and his wife built for their religious life. A few years later, an old monk of the Lam Te discipline visited and was asked to stay and be their teacher. The pagoda has had a 230-year history of eight chief monks.
The main section of the pagoda is for worshipping A Di Da (Amitabha) Buddha, with Ca Diep (Casyape) on his right and A Nan (Anand) on his left. Both are the great disciples of Thich Ca Mau Ni (Sakyamuni) Buddha. In front of A Di Da are Sakyamuni, Maitreya and bodhisattvas. At both sides of the walls, there are statues of 1810hans (arhats) and 10 kings of the hell.
In front of the altar there are 49 oil lamps and 49 statuettes of bodhisattvas. Buddhists pray here for peacefulness and health. They write their names and their relatives' names on a piece of paper and have it stuck on the grand bell. They believe that when the bell is struck, its echoes go to heaven and hell, taking along their wishes.
Behind the main shrine is the altar for worshipping the pagoda's head monks.
Giac Lam Pagoda has more than 100 ancient statues, signboards and tablets with pictures of four kinds of precious flowers and four species of sacred animals. In particular, there is a pair of tablets decreed in 1804 by King Gia Long, and two parallel sentences donated by Gia Dinh Citadel Governor Trinh Hoai Due.
The pagoda is surrounded by 50 ancient towers with ingenious sculptural lines. Its yard is paved with red square tiles. Both sides of the pathway have many precious ornamental flowers and plants.
In front of the pagoda is a big bodhi tree, a gift from Sri Lankan great monk Narada in 1953. In its shade is the statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. On one side of the pagoda is a white-flower ochna tree of about 100 years of age. In the front yard is a tower for preserving the remains of monks after their cremation.
Giac Lam Pagoda has been recognized as a national historic heritage site.