Chua Mot Cot or the One Pillar Pagoda has become the symbol of Vietnamese rich culture and history. The pagoda was first built in 1049 under the Ly Dynasty, on the west side of the ancient Thang Long Capital.
The pagoda was built in the reign of king Ly Thai Tong . It was built after the description of a dream of King Ly Thai Tong who reigned between 1028 and 1054, in which Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Mercy, led him to a lotus flower. The One Pillar Pagoda resembles a giant lotus blossom.
The temple was located in what was then the Tây Cấm Garden in Thạch Bảo, Vĩnh Thuận district in the capital Thăng Long (now known as Hanoi). Before the pagoda was opened, prayers were held for the longevity of the monarch. During the Lý Dynasty era, the temple was the site of an annual royal ceremony on the occasion of Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. A Buddha-bathing ceremony was held annually by the monarch, and it attracted monks and laymen alike to the ceremony. The monarch would then free a bird, which was followed by the people. The temple was renovated in 1105 by Emperor Lý Nhân Tông and a bell was cast and an installation was attempted in 1109. However, the bell, which was regarded as one of the four major capital works of Vietnam at the time, was much too large and heavy, and could not be installed. Since it could not be tolled while left on the ground, it was moved into the countryside and deposited in farmland adjacent to Nhất Trụ Temple.
This land was widely inhabited by turtles, so the bell came to be known as Quy Điền chung, which means Bell of the Turtle Farmland. At the start of the 15th century, Vietnam was invaded and occupied by the Minh Dynasty. In 1426, the future Emperor Lê Lợi attacked and dispersed the Chinese forces, and while the Minh were in retreat and low on weapons, their commanding general ordered that the bell be smelted, so that the copper could be used for manufacturing weaponry. In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from Vietnam after the First Indochina War, It was rebuilt afterwards