Rivaling Cot Co as one of Hanoi’s most prominent icons, the Chua Mot Cot or the One Pillar Pagoda was constructed by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in AD 1049. Situated within the tiny Dien Huu Pagoda, also dating from the 11th century, this wooden pagoda is built, as the name suggests, on a single stone pillar, standing in an elegant lotus pond.
According to legend, the king, who had no son, had a dream in which he was visited by Quan Am, Goddess of Mercy. She was sitting on a lotus flower and presented him with a baby boy. Soon after, Ly Thai Tong married a new young queen who bore him a son. To show his gratitude, the emperor ordered the con- struction of a singlepillared pagoda representing a lotus flower. It represents purity, like a lotus blossoming in a muddy pond. The pillar is built of stone and is 4 ft (1.25 m) in diameter.
Over the centuries, One Pillar Pagoda has been damaged and reconstructed on numerous occasions. However, none of these acts of destruction is harder to fathom than its burning by the French in 1954.