Quynh Lam Pagoda was built on a hill in the Trang An Commune, Dong Trieu District, Quang Ninh Province, about 83km from Halong City. The pagoda was built at the Pre-Ly Dynasty (about the end of the 5th century, begin of the 6th century) and has been restored many times under the Dinh, Early Le, Ly, Tran, Le Dynasties.
There is a big lake in front of the pagoda while the three remaining sides are surrounded by hills and mountains. It was embellished and completed in Ly, Tran Dynasties. During the 11th and 14th centuries – the end of Le Dynasty and in the 17th and 18th centuries, it developed into the main center of Buddhism for the entire country.
In the 14th century the Quynh Lam Pagoda became an even more important Buddhist center with the activities of the monk Phap Loa Dong Kien Cuong who was a member of the second generation of the Truc Lam Buddhist sect. It was the center for sacred books and for preaching Buddhism, as well as a training-site for future pagoda wardens.
The ritual festivities of Quynh Lam Pagoda are held from the first to the fourth day of the second lunar month, but the festive atmosphere lasts through spring. Buddhist faithful flock here from all corners of the country.
In 1319, Phap Loa calls for blood donation from Buddhist followers to print over 5,000 copies of Dai Tang sutras, which are kept at Quynh Lam Buddhist Institute. In 1328, he had a statue of Maitreya cast. A year later, he brought a part of the bone ash of Nhan Tong (the 1st patriarch of the Truc Lam Zen sect) to put into the stone stupa in Quynh Lam Pagoda.
In early 15th century, the pagoda was reduced to ruins and had to undergo many restorations. In 1727, the 7-storey Tich Quang Stupa (grave of monk Chan Nguyen, who made great contribution to the pagoda) was set up, which measures up to 10 meters. The stupa’s top takes the shape of a banyan bud. To the stupa is attached a plate which notes down the biography of monk Chan Nguyen.
In mid-18th century, the pagoda underwent a major restoration. It now also has bronze bells and stone gongs.