VietNamNet Bridge - For years, every time it rains heavily, the altar in the One Pillar Pagoda gets wet due to leaks in the roof.
"The One Pillar Pagoda started suffering from leaks in 2002. While it underwent some repairs before the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi last year, its condition has deteriorated," head monk Thich Tam Kien told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
" I would like the pagoda to be fixed up, but my ability has limitations and cultural authorities seem little perturbed by the current situation,"
Because of its low-lying foundations, water often converges around the pagoda, bringing with it both mud and rubbish. Water levels recently rose to handrail height at the Linh Chieu Lake after August rains.
On account of mud deposits, monks ordered the lake to be dredged last year. The head monk said that water levels in the pagoda's yard reached 1m during 2008. He added that a hole as big as a thumb had turned the roof into a veritable tap. "We had to put conical hats on statues to protect them from damage," he said.
The pagoda underwent rehabilitation of its shrine in 1995, its house of worship in 1997 and its infrastructure in 2010, but more work still needs to be done.
According to an evaluation conducted by the project management unit of Ba Dinh District, the national relic has been subsequently downgraded.
At the end of 2009, the district People's Committee promulgated a restoration project which, during mid-2010, the Ha Noi People's Committee requested the rehabilitation of the pagoda before the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi, as well as the collaboration with cultural experts, historians and related agencies to continue the project on a long-term basis.
Vu Kim Khanh, deputy director of the project's management board, said that restoration work, set to be carried out, would include repairing stairs and walls, preventing humidity and worms from damaging wooden furniture and improving the power and water system. Work is set to be completed at a cost of VND31 billion (nearly US$1,5 million) and start from the first quarter of next year.
According to Nguyen Duc Hoa, deputy director of the Ha Noi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, a representative of the Cultural Heritage Department agreed that the pagoda needed rehabilitation, but that the process had to comply with proceedings and regulations and keep original elements of the relic intact.
The One Pillar Pagoda, recognised as a national relic in 1962 and locally known as Dien Huu, was built under the reign of Ly Thai Tong (1029-54). The pagoda, one of the most important vestiges in Viet Nam, is located on President Ho Chi Minh's relic site and attracts thousands of local and international tourists every year.