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Thursday, December 2, 2021

An ancient pagoda on the mountainside

By Bi Nguyen

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Regarded as one of the most famous pagodas in the Mekong Delta, Hang Pagoda—or officially Phuoc Dien Pagoda—in Chau Doc City, An Giang Province, is one of the province’s top attractions. Aside from being a holy place, the pagoda also offers the scenic splendor second to none in An Giang.

Hang Pagoda was built more than a century ago on the side of Sam Mountain in Vinh Te Commune of Chau Doc City. In 1980, the pagoda became a national historical-cultural site.

From the heart of Chau Doc City, it takes travelers about 20 minutes’ drive to get to Hang Pagoda. From the pagoda, visitors also have access to other provincial scenic spots nearby—such as Thoai Ngoc Hau Temple, Ba Chua Xu (Holy Mother of the Realm) Temple and Tay An Pagoda.

Originally a small temple built during the 1840s or the 1850s by a woman named Le Thi Tho, it was a site where she practiced religion. In 1885, local residents raised funds for building the temple into a pagoda. Over the time and after many renovations, the pagoda has reached the current status with impressive architecture and holy atmosphere.

From the gate of Hang Pagoda at the foot of Sam Mountain, visitors should climb hundreds of staircases to arrive at the pagoda’s main structure. From there, travelers may watch the lustful scenery beneath with endless rice fields and peaceful villages typical of the Mekong Delta.

The flower garden in Hang Pagoda

In front of the pagoda’s flower garden are a statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and four holy guardians looking down to the foot of the mountain.

Hang Pagoda consists of many stories and buildings leaning to the mountain. Adopting old architecture, the pagoda seems to attach to the steep mountainside.

Hang Pagoda’s architecture, the red color of its roof tiles and the green color of the mountain and rice fields paint a beautiful picture before the eyes of the beholders.

The extremely solemn main hall of Hang Pagoda is decorated with impressive bas-reliefs and murals. It is where Gautama Buddha is worshiped.

The red tiles of the pagoda

Aside from visiting different sections of the pagoda, travelers may explore numerous caves deep inside the mountainside, some of which also have Buddha statues.

Possessing both spiritual meanings and poetic scenery, Hang Pagoda has been one of the strongest magnets for tourists in Chau Doc City, luring a great number of visitors.

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