One Pillar Pagoda restoration awaits further discussions

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The restoration of One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi will be delayed as the works need to be discussed in at least three more conferences this year, according to senior monk Thich Tam Kien.

Last month, the Hanoi People's Committee proposed a US$1.5 million project to restore the iconic temple, built in 1049 on a pillar erected in the middle of a lotus pond.  

The temple, a major tourism attraction in the capital city, is now dilapidated.

The Ba Dinh District administration will carry out the restoration project, which is expected to start next year and be finished by 2013.

The district authorities held recently a conference to ask for opinions from experts and officials.

Hanoi authorities had also held a meeting on the site's restoration, especially leaks in the roof that caused water to fall on the statues and the main altar inside, as well as the installation of a drainage system to solve the flooding.

Kien said on October 3 that the problem of leaks in the area nearby Linh Chieu pond was solved, but the roof over the worshipping area was still leaking, especially during heavy rains, and the yard flooded in August.

"Previously, we could have the roof repaired, but ever since the pagoda was recognized as a national relic site in 1962, we have to wait for approval from the government for whatever we want to do," he said.

They actually needed to get dozen of signatures and seals from the local government to be allowed to have the tile's directions changed, he added.

"It is the same for this restoration project, we have to wait for several discussions before the restoration begins."

Accordingly, the first phase of work will cover the leaking roof and the surrounding landscape, and further upgrades and restorations will be carried out in the second stage.

According to the project's management board, because the pagoda, also known as Dien Huu, is located within several historical relic sites, including President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Parliament House, Ho Chi Minh Museum, care should be taken to ensure that the harmony of the place is maintained.

Kien said that the restoration work should not violate the view of the pagoda from Linh Chieu pond and should include adequate living quarters for monks.

However, the board feels that restoration work that includes a residential area will destroy the relic's originality. They have proposed instead that only damaged parts will be replaced and restored with new ones to maintain the original architecture and surroundings as much as possible.

The capital's Prof Phan Khanh said the restoration work should be done very carefully to ensure that the pagoda becomes the capital city's jewel in the crown.  He stressed that the pagoda in the past was bigger than now, and that the pillar was made of stone, but was replaced by concrete and steel in a 1954 restoration due to a lack of funds.

Another conference will take place in October to collect opinions from experts.

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