The Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang is home to many ancient pagodas such as Doi (Bat), Dat Set (Clay) and Chen Kieu (Porcelain bowl), with a touch of typical architectural features of Khmer ethnic people. These worshipping destinations are an indispensable part in the spiritual life of the Khmer people, not only for them to practice religious beliefs but also to keep Buddhist artistic and literary works.
Chen Kieu Pagoda
Worshippers are seen inside Chen Kieu (Porcelain bowl) Pagoda in Soc Trang Province
Construction of the pagoda started in 1815 on a spacious area with green lines of trees but it was damaged by war and underwent restoration in 1969. Due to restricted financial budget, monks came up with the idea of calling on the people to donate used bowls to redecorate the pagoda as observed today.
Hence, first-time comers to the pagoda might be stunned by the unique architectures when all wall surfaces and columns for both the exterior and interior are stunningly decorated with nearly 30 tons of broken porcelain pieces, including plates, bowls and vases.
The gate is decorated with two giant stone lion statues and the sanctum has 16 pillars carved with images of the legends of the Khmer culture.
Located on Highway 1A at Dai Tam Commune, My Xuyen District and just 10 kilometers from Soc Trang Town, the pagoda was acknowledged as a national cultural relic in 2012.
Doi (Bat) Pagoda
Doi (Bat) Pagoda keeps Khmer-style architectural features intact after the overhaul in 2007 following a blaze
Dating back to the early 16th century, the Khmer culture-influenced pagoda has stoked pilgrims’ curiosity over flocks of bats roosting under the ancient trees and never flying out of the pagoda’s garden, and that’s why the pilgrim destination is dubbed as “Bat Pagoda” and frequented by throngs of curious visitors over the past five centuries.
Unfortunately, the pagoda caught fire in 2007; as a consequence, the main hall of the pagoda was completely destroyed and dozens of statues, 60 big candles, curtains and the upper roof of the major temple were burnt to the ground. However, flocks of bats luckily escaped the disaster.
The pagoda experienced a massive restoration after the blaze, thanks to contributions by local authorities and generous pilgrims. The renovation has still guaranteed its original architecture depicting the Khmer culture.
Located on Le Hong Phong Street, Ward 3 in Soc Trang Town, Doi Pagoda has gained popularity as one of the oldest pagodas in the province.
Dat Set (Clay) Pagoda
A visitor uses his camera to capture clay statues made by late artisan Ngo Kim Tong, the fourth generation of the Ngo family who founded Dat Set Pagoda in the early 20th century
Despite more than one century of existence, the pagoda has still preserved a collection of colorful clay statues made by late artisan Ngo Kim Tong, the fourth generation of the Ngo family who founded Dat Set Pagoda in the early 20th century.
So far, the pagoda has broken Vietnamese record with six candles weighing 200 kg and measuring 2.6 meters in height each that have burnt without interruption during the past 70 years.