One of the highlights that create the tourist attraction of Soc Trang is the hundreds of years old pagodas and temples with beauty tinged with time. Prominent among them are the ancient temples of the Theravada Theravada Buddhist sect of the Southern Khmer people such as Kh’leang pagoda, Sa Lon pagoda (Chén Kiểu pagoda), Dơi (Bat) pagoda… and especially the Bốn Mặt (Four Faces) Pagoda in Soc Trang – One of the ancient pagodas considered to have the most beautiful and unique architecture.
General information about Four Faces Pagoda
Bốn Mặt (Four Faces) Pagoda is located in Cho Cu Market area, Phu Tan commune, Chau Thanh district, about 6km from the city center towards Ke Sach district. This is one of the oldest pagodas in Soc Trang in particular and the Mekong Delta in general. According to the monks in the temple, this ancient temple was built around 1537 (early 16th century). Up to now, Bốn Mặt Pagoda in Soc Trang has existed for nearly 500 years and although there have been some changes, the architecture of this place still retains its original ancient beauty. The overall architecture of the pagoda includes many unique works such as the main hall, sala, ossuary tower, monks’ residence, reception house…
The story goes that around the beginning of the 16th century, while clearing wasteland for cultivation and agricultural development, Khmer people accidentally discovered a stone Buddha statue with four faces facing four directions; each direction has 5 other Buddhas. Thinking that this was a good omen, in 1537, local people contributed to building the pagoda and then took the Four Faced Buddha statue to worship. The strangest thing is that this stone Buddha statue is crafted with very special patterns and motifs that it seems no human hand could carve.
Unique features in the architectural style of Four Faces Pagoda Soc Trang
Four Faces Pagoda was built at the same time as Kh’leang Pagoda. When it was first formed, it was just a small building with structures and items all made of bamboo, soil, stone, leaves and wood. After hundreds of years of existence and restorations, currently, the pagoda is a unique traditional Khmer architectural complex located on a land area of more than 6,500 square meters. The first building you will encounter is the three-entrance gate which is very sophisticatedly designed with three round towers, each with five floors and embossed with images of characters deeply imprinted in Khmer beliefs such as the god of win – Reahu; the snake God Naga and the bird God Krud.
From the three-entrance gate, go straight inside the pagoda, there is a pair of nine-headed Nagar snakes with a length of more than 20m. They’re a symbol of well-being, prosperity, dispelling evil spirits and leading to paradise. That’s why on the paths, corridors, pagodas, etc., images of the snake God Nagar usually appear.
In particular, members of the Four Faces Pagoda in Soc Trang have many ancient trees, some of which are over 100 years old. And also there are many “hồng nhung” fruit trees (a typical type of fruit tree in Soc Trang) grown in here, visitors allow to pick and enjoy the fruits in the pagoda.
The main hall has an area of about 225m2. The construction material of the main hall is a combination of straw, sand and soil. The roof is designed with three layers and in the center is the top of the tower where the four faces statue of Maha Prum, the creator of the world is located.
The edges and corners of the Main Hall’s Roof are sculpted to simulate the image of a dragon, below is image of goddess Keynor with benevolent face and the bodies of the bird which are carved meticulously and the statues of God Krud with the heads, legs and wings of the birds and the rubies in the mouths beneath the roof, standing majestically under roof and pillars, symbolizing the strong spiritual power that helps to keep the roof of the pagoda from falling down.
Inside the main hall is a 2-meter-high statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, meditating on a 3-meter-high pedestal, decorated with lotus petal patterns. In particular, in front of the worship space of Shakyamuni Buddha is an ancient 5-faced Buddha statue made of seven-colored stone with 5 floors and a height of over 1 meter (the Buddha statue was found by local people when reclaiming the land of Phu Tan).
Over time, Bốn Mặt (Four Faces) Pagoda was renovated and some new items were built. Among them, the most prominent is Mach Cha Linh pond with a 20m high tower, inside there is a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha sitting on a 7-headed snake. Around the pond are sculpted patterns of the Four-Faced Buddha statue facing four directions along with the 12 zodiac animal statues.
There are many small and big events have been held every year in Bốn Mặt (Four Faces) Pagoda but Chôl Chnăm Thmây Tết (Lunar New Year) and Sene Đôn Ta ceremony have been the biggest events which attract thousand people come to participate and visit.
Useful information about Bốn Mặt (Four Faces) Pagoda
- Best for: solo, family, student, pilgrims
- Entrance: Free