Overview of Khmer pagodas in Soc Trang
Soc Trang is one of the most attractive tourist spots in the Mekong Delta for its natural beauty, diverse cultures, and friendly people. Especially, the architecture of the Khmer pagodas attracts many tourists to visit and admire the spectacular works and the meaning behind every pagoda. Different pagodas carry different beauty and architecture so they make visitors surprised and admired. Let’s explore the unique beauty of Khmer pagodas in Soc Trang with the Mekong Smile Tour!
Famous Khmer pagodas in Soc Trang
Som Rong pagoda
The impressive structure and design
The gate of Som Rong pagoda is decorated with cultural symbols of Khmer people such as the snake god (naga), the bird god (Krud), and other traditional patterns, etc. painted in golden. On top of the gate, there are five towers representing Meru Mountain, where five Buddhas practiced Buddhism and entered the nirvana. The campus now has two large Som Rong trees and a lot of old trees here. The pagoda has an area of 5 ha, including the main temple, rest houses for monks, and a library with over 1,500 books for students, local people, and other Buddhists.
Sro Loun Pagoda (Chen Kieu Pagoda)
The origin of the name “Chen Kieu Pagoda”
History of Chen Kieu pagoda – Mysterious story inside the pagoda
Traveling to the 200-year-old pagoda, visitors have chances to explore mysterious stories there. Chen Kieu pagoda was built in 1815, but in 1969 it was destroyed by war. After that, the ninth abbot – Tang Duch restored the pagoda. Especially, Chen Kieu pagoda has recognized the provincial historical and cultural heritage.
In fact, there are two corpses of two former abbots preserved there. People worship them as Sarina in the sacred temple. Most Khmer people practice Theravada, so they consider external appearance as just a cover. The soul is the most significant element forming a person. The pagoda consists of cultural, religious, and historical features which make many visitors wish to explore the destination once.
Doi Pagoda is attractive for its ancient beauty and tranquility. It is in Van Ngoc Chinh Street, Ward 3, Soc Trang city. Just about 2 km from the city center. Doi Pagoda was built in 1569 by Mr. Thach Ut with woods and water coconuts. So far, it has gone through many restorations. Unfortunately, the main temple burned in 2008, but in 2009 monks restored it to maintain the previous structure.
The historical name of Doi pagoda in Soc Trang
In fact, local people name it Doi pagoda because it has been the habitat for many bats for a long time. Besides, the Khmer name of the pagoda is Wath Sêrâytêchô Mahatup. ‘Maha’ means ‘big’, ‘tup’ is ‘oppose’ – mahatup means a big resistance. According to residents, furious fights used to take place here because farmers started a rising against the mistreatment of feudalism. Finally, justice was in favor of these local residents. Then, they believed that religion is a peaceful land and build a pagoda to worship Buddha in their villages.
Doi Pagoda is well-known for its unique and ancient architecture. The patterns and statues on the roofs, pillars, and walls represent the Khmer culture and Buddhist symbols. People use symbols of the 5-headed giant snake, Fairy Kenmar, and others. These patterns are combined meticulously to create a unique beauty for the pagoda.
The structure and decoration follow the Khmer ancient architectural style with tiled roofs. The roofs have Naga snake shapes and a pointed spire on the top. When visitors come inside the sanctuary, they can admire the monolithic Buddha image on a lotus tower about 2 m high. Besides, Doi Pagoda also preserves scriptures written on palm tree leaves and other precious artifacts about the cultures and beliefs of the Southern region.
Doi Pagoda is the habitat of thousands of bats
The campus is surrounded by a lot of old trees where visitors can take a rest on the row of chairs and enjoy the fresh air here. Most of the trees are woods, as old as the Doi pagoda. The trees create a natural habitat for many bats to live in.
Some of them are so big that their wing spans are over 1 meter and hang on the tree branches. When the sun goes down, many flocks of bats will return to their home – the Doi pagoda. The monks believe that the bats gathering is the blessedness from Buddha for Doi pagoda. Therefore, people always protect and preserve the bats.
Kh’leang Pagoda – One of famous Khmer pagodas in Soc Trang
Kh’leang Pagoda follows the Khmer ancient style and has a special meaning to the Khmer community in Soc Trang. That is where local people choose the pagoda to celebrate important religious ceremonies and large festivals. Besides, the campus is around 4,000 square meters. Kh’Leang is well-known for its long history of establishment, Buddhist teachings preservation, literary displays, and artistic works. Kh’Leang is one of the first religious works in Soc Trang Province, around 1532. Kh’Leang in the Khmer means “land of the warehouse”, representing a land of various cultures and unique religious works.
The impressive and magnificent architecture of Kh’Leang Pagoda
At first, the Khmer people use raw materials such as bamboo, wood, leaves, etc. to build the pagoda. They replaced these materials with modern ones to create a unique, sustainable architecture in 1945. The 500-year-old pagoda imprints Khmer, Chinese, and Kinh cultures with sophisticated construction syles and elegant patterns.
These details are combined in a harmonious way that many visitors love it. Visiting the pagoda, visitors will see a big entrance gate decorated with traditional Khmer symbols. On top of the gate, there are the jaggery trees – living with the Khmer people for years to years.
The main temple
The most meticulous and magnificent part is the main temple, situated on a 3-step foundation. Each step is about one meter high. The architect used ten pillars, and seven rows of columns to lift the roof. These wooden pillars are large, smooth, black, and painted in gold. Workers engrave pictures of the journey of Buddha and Buddhist activities into the pillars.
Kh’leang Pagoda has harmonious architectural traits showing the traditional artistic characteristic of the Khmer people then and now. It is considered one of the most artistic, cultural, and religious works in Soc Trang. On April 27, 1990, Kh’leang Pagoda was recognized as the national architectural and artistic relic by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Address: Ton Duc Thang Street, Hamlet 5, Ward 6, City Soc Trang
Some notes when tourists visit Khmer pagodas
- Because most Khmer traditional festivals in Soc Trang happen in October (Lunar Calendar) so this is an ideal time to visit these pagodas.
- When entering the main temple, visitors should go in from the side doors instead of the main door or the middle one.
- Remember to dress properly to show your respect to Buddhas and the monks in the pagoda