A large memorial in Hanoi surrounded by Ba Dinh Square, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum houses the embalmed body of former Vietnamese leader and founding president Ho Chi Minh, a famous historical place, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum pays homage to one of the greatest leaders the Vietnamese people have seen throughout their history.
If you are traveling to Hanoi, this is one place that you do not want to miss out on no matter what the cost is. After all who would want to get up close and personal to President Ho Chi Minh himself?
The primary reason why Ba Dinh Square houses such a large memorial is because of the epitomic importance of this square in the establishment of what we now recognize as sovereign Vietnam. Ba Dinh square is the place where President Ho read the Declaration of Independence on 1945 establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, what else could be a better place to serve as the last resting spot for him.
The structure of President Ho’s mausoleum is inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow but incorporates distinct architectural elements of the Vietnamese culture such as the sloping roof and the exterior is made of gray granite while the interior is gray, black, with red polished stone that gives it an exquisite touch. As an eternal salutation to the great leader, the mausoleum’s portico has the words Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh inscribed on it which means President Ho Chi Minh.
The whole structure is not only dedicated to President Ho Chi Minh, but it also serves as an iconic representation of Vietnam’s revolutionary struggle against foreign powers where Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body has been placed in the centerpiece and is kept in a bier inside a glass case where amazingly every visitor can see him face to face.
There is no doubt in the fame of this place, and for the same reason you might have to wait in a long queue before you actually get to enter the mausoleum. It is open from 08.00 to 11.00 and from 13.30 to 16.30 every day while it is a policy that the Mausoleum shall remain closed on Monday and Friday every week. who would want to get stranded for a whole day at a mausoleum gate! Furthermore, the place does not just serve the purpose of homage, remembrance and tourism. It is also closed to visitors during October and November so that only pilgrims can visit to pay their homage and pay respect to Ho.
Once you have all the other cards in place, make sure you are not dressed improperly –at least in the mausoleum management’s eyes. For gaining entry into the enclosure, dress code is a necessity. Sadly for some, you must wear shirts and long trousers, no shorts. Also, no cameras are allowed inside, and all personal possessions must be kept outside the mausoleum.
After gaining entrance, you will only have a minute to stop in front of the glass enclosure where body of Ho is placed. Dressed in his traditional khaki clothes and rubber sandals, Ho Chi Minh looks as if he is just taking a nap. His well embalmed body is revered with great respect by all the Vietnamese people, and they expect everyone to do the same.
Before he died, Ho left directions for his cremation in his will. However, at the time of his death in 1969, the year after the Tet Offensive, the war was still raging and morale was low pace. Communist Party chiefs recognized his iconic status and override his wishes, probably a pragmatically wise decision, but ethically reprehensive. The embalming process was initially undertaken by Russian experts –even to this date, his body is taken to Moscow for three months each year in early autumn for maintenance.
The mausoleum presents an irresistible taste of simplicity and resembles the magnificent charm of the time when the place was alive for real; this is the place where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. Built in the style of ethnic dwellings place, visitors can look through the windows to see the furnishings and his few personal possessions. A vase of his favorite flowers is put up on his desk each day even today, which are mostly hoa hue trang; a sweetly scented flower that looks rather like a tall white bluebell.
In the opposite direction, the Ho Chi Minh Museum supplies a comprehensive overview of the man’s life and work and his vision of peace and happiness. It is informative, but understandably overlooks some of the more episodes in his life. Nevertheless, it is one of the best places on the face of the earth when it comes to celebrating and commemorating a true leader.