On the west side of Ba Dinh Square, a heavy grey structure, built of stone quarried from Marble Mountain near Danang, is Ho Chi Minh’s last resting place.
An unassuming man, who prided himself on an austere, almost ascetic public image, Ho Chi Minh had allegedly requested that he be cremated and his ashes scattered in Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam, symbolizing the national unity to which he had devoted his life. In keeping with these beliefs, it is said that he also vetoed the con- struction of a small museum on his life at his home village near Kim Lien, arguing that the funds could be better employed in building a school. However, after Ho Chi Minh’s death in 1969, the leading members of the Vietnamese politburo reportedly altered his final testament by deleting his request to be cremated. Instead, with the help of Soviet specialists, the leader was embalmed and installed at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in 1975.
The building’s exterior is considered by many as both ponderous and unappeal ing. Astonishingly, the architects supposedly intended the struc ture to represent a lotus flower, though it is difficult to understand how.
Inside, the mood is somber and decidedly respectful. Ho Chi Minh, dressed in simple clothing favored by Chinese nationalist leader Sun Yat Sen, lies in a chilled, dim room, his crossed hands resting on dark cloth covers. The mausoleum is an important pilgrimage site for many Vietnamese, especially from the north, and should be approached with respect and reverence. Any kind of noisy behavior, loitering, and inapprop- riate clothing is strictly forbidden.