Tay An Pagoda – a sacred destination for Vietnam heritage tour
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Chau Doc, An Giang has long been renowned as a popular spiritual destination with several appealing pagodas and temples. Among the various number of pagodas in this region, the ancient Tay An Pagoda on Sam Mountain still stands out thanks to its special architecture and sacred atmosphere. It is definitely a must-see site that any South Vietnam heritage tour should never ignore.
Located at the foot of Sam Mountain in Nui Sam Ward, Chau Doc City, An Giang, Tay An Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda which demonstrates excellently the combination of Indian and Vietnamese architectural styles.
The pagoda was established by Sir Nguyen Nhat An – a mandarin of the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. It is said that prior to his trip to Cao Mien (Cambodia), he prayed for a successful trip and promised to build a pagoda to worship the Buddha when returning.
There are different explanations regarding the name of this pagoda. Some say “Tay An” represents the factors making up the pagoda: “Tay” in “Tran Tay” (the west town) – where the materials were taken from, and “An” in An Giang – where the pagoda is situated in. Some believe that “Tay An” means “the west of An Giang”. Others say “Tay An” means “the peacefulness in the western land”, demonstrating the hope of a peaceful life in this land.
It is the special architecture that makes Tay An Pagoda a must-see for Vietnam heritage tours. The pagoda is a perfect instance of Mahayana Buddhist style, which originated in India.
Unlike the majority of pagodas in Vietnam which follows Theravada Buddhism, Tay An Pagoda belongs to the Mahayana one. Therefore, instead of having the typical oriental Buddhist architectural style, the pagoda looks like an Indian or Cambodian pagoda. The pagoda has 03 oval domes of Indian styles with harmoniously vibrant colors. The Main Hall is 18 meters high with the gong and drum storages on the two sides. It worships the Buddha in accordance with the Zen Buddhism with a huge Buddha statue in the middle and several smaller Buddhist deities’ statues on the sides.
In front of this Vietnamese heritage is the triple archway (Paifang), of which the central gate is to worship the Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and the two gates on the sides inscribed the Mandarin name of the pagoda. Going deep into the pagoda’s yard, tourists will see the statue of a mother holding her child, which stands for “Thị Kính” Bodhisattva. Interestingly, these details, as well as the interiors of the pagoda, is based on the typical features of traditional Vietnamese pagoda.
The pagoda also possesses several holly statues such as the White Elephants, hundreds of Buddha and Buddhist deities’ statues, and plenty of horizontal lacquered boards and parallel sentences made by the meticulous hands of the local artisans in the late 19th century.
Spiritual and historical significance
This unique pagoda lays on the mountain and has a sacred and holly atmosphere, which is not only a Buddhist destination but also a tranquil Zen-scape.
Pilgrims and visitors taking a Vietnam heritage tour to this pagoda will be definitely overwhelmed by the magnificence of this hundred-year-old temple. The details and patterns on the wall, as well as the meticulous décor of the statues, are the excellent work of the monks and the locals.
Not only is it a holly spiritual place, but Tay An Ancient Pagoda is also historically significant. During the war against foreign invaders, the pagoda was the sheltered place of many Vietnamese patriots. Especially, Monk Thich Buu Tho was awarded the First Class Khang Chien Medal for his huge contribution in the cause of liberating the nation in the 20th century.
Thanks to its religious significance, Tay An Pagoda has been designated as a National Cultural and Historical Relic. Numerous flocks of Buddhist pilgrims, as well as domestic and international travelers, have made their ways to this pagoda each year to pray and wish for a better life. Immersing yourself in the tranquil and sacred atmosphere of the pagoda, you will feel like all your life burden and stress have been blown away. It’s undoubtedly a right option for your heritage tours in Vietnam.
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