Khleang Pagoda: National Cultural and Historical Pride of Soc Trang

Image by: http://www.soctrang.gov.vn/

Khleang Pagoda is a national symbol because of its historical and cultural significance. Located at Soc Trang Province which in itself is an interesting place because of its distinct culture, traditions and other characteristics, it should be in the checklist for all history lovers.

 

Khleang Pagoda or Kh’Leang or Khleng Pagoda is an old Buddhist temple of the Khmer system in the Southern part of Vietnam. It was built by King Ang Chan of the Chan Lap country in the 16th century (1532) when during his ocular inspection in one of his territories, in Srok Kh’Leang, he observed that there was no Buddhist temple in the area. He instructed the manager of the land to build one so that the residents in the community would have a place to pray. The people were so happy that they contributed their possessions and labour voluntarily to construct the pagoda. The temple began its construction on December 16, 2076.

 

Khleang Pagoda is situated on a 3,800 metre square area. It is designed with Khmer architecture known for its lively colours, patterns and textures. The temple has pillars, mounted on each is the statue of the dancer Ken Naarr with outstretched arms that reach up to the roof. There are three small towers on the roof. The main gate faces the East at Ton Duc Thang Street while an additional gate is located at Nguyen Chi Thanh Street. The pagoda is surrounded by palm trees for a serene atmosphere while it is protected by a solid fence all around for security.

 

The main hall is 200 metre square and has three levels, each level fenced with bricks all around. The hall is specifically designed to face all directions (North, South, East and West) with a door. The roof is also in three levels designed with a winding dragon statue. On top of the pillars in the corridor area are Krud statues with their heads propped up. All around the hall are Teahu and Yeak statues. Inside, the roof frame is supported by 12 huge pillars with Corinthian Greek style. It is painted in black, has a dragon design and yellow fishes. The presbytery door is made of wood engraved with an ornate design of a fight scene between a fairy and a monster (Yeak).

 

Other rooms in the pagoda are a Sala hall, house of abbots, monk houses, tower, incinerator, and many others. When the temple was finished, Thach Soc, a 61-year old monk who was ordained for 40 years and practiced at Luang Bassac Pagoda in My Xuyen District of the same province, was selected to be the abbot. Me Kon was chosen to be the head of the regional monks.

 

Khleang Pagoda is also the only worship place for Shakyamuni Buddha. There are 45 statues of such in the temple, each with varying sizes and designs. One in particular is 6.8 metres high, its torso alone 2.7 metres high. The statue sits on a lotus; decorated with lovely flowers, leaves and fruits; and surrounded by trees. There is also an important Khmer writing engraved at the back of the statue which says: “Venerable Lieu Duong, 17th lineage, abbot from 1893 to 1928, created Buddha statues in 2460 of Buddhist calendar with donations of Mr. Lum Sun family.” The wall serves as a mural of the life of the Buddha from the time he was born until he was “enlightened.” The temple was rehabilitated many times between from 1916 to 1994.  

 

Khleang Pagoda is located at 53 Ton Duc Thang Street, Ward 6, Soc Trang City, Soc Trang Province. It is acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture and Information as a national Architecture Arts monument.