An Giang is famous as a pure “sacred land” with ancient pagodas imbued with architectural beauty and folk culture. Hang Pagoda is one of the extremely sacred pagoda that attracts many visitors from all over to enjoy and make pilgrimages to pray for blessings and admire the wonderful view from here.
General information about Hang Pagoda in An Giang
Hang Pagoda is a familiar name local people give to one of the famous pagodas of Chau Doc – An Giang, which is Phuoc Dien pagoda (Vietnames: Phước Điền). Phước means blessing, Điền means land (field), the name Phuoc Dien can be simply understood as the land where blessings are planted. The pagoda has been recognized as a National Historical-Cultural Monument, located on the slopes of Sam Mountain near the Lady Temple relic cluster, Tay An Pagoda and Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb. Traveling to An Giang, visiting Hang Pagoda, you will be like going through a door opening a new world to get rid of all the dust and dirt, immersing yourself in a peaceful, fresh and mellow atmosphere like a fairy tale place.
Legend has it that Hang Pagoda was founded by Mrs. Tho (full Vietnamese name Le Thi Tho, born in 1818). After getting married, she encountered a difficult situation in life and took refuge in Buddha at Tay An Pagoda, taking refuge with the dharma name Dieu Thien. After practicing at Tay An Pagoda, because this place was frequented by many people, she went to find a quiet place with no people to practice. Going west of Sam Mountain, she encountered a deep cave, dense with trees, so she stayed and built a hut made of bamboo and leaves as a place to practice, which was the original origin of today’s Hang Pagoda in An Giang. Next to the hermitage where Mrs. Tho practices is a deep mountain cave, inside there are a pair of giant snakes. Since she came to practice, the pair of snakes listen to Buddhist scriptures every day and become gentle, eat vegetarian food, do not harm people. When she passed away, this pair of snakes suddenly disappeared. Then to avoid danger, the cave was filled with only the entrance, about 10 meters deep, inside worshiping Amitabha Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva.
Inspired by the virtue of nun Dieu Thien, in 1885, Mr. Phan Thong (real name Nguyen Ngoc Cang) and local people contributed money to build a pagoda with a tiled floor, tiled roof, and wooden pillars. … named Phuoc Dien Tu, but many people still call it Hang Pagoda.
The beauty of Hang Pagoda
Located on the slopes of Sam Mountain, Hang Pagoda gives visitors an extremely wonderful feeling. A very charming but equally sacred space. This over one hundred year old pagoda has extremely clear views and a quiet, respectful space. Hang Pagoda is surrounded by deep green forests of majestic mountains, many species of trees bloom in season and color the entire area, bringing a poetic picture to the ancient Hang Pagoda.
To get to the pagoda grounds, you will have to follow steps made of stone blocks, quite steep, so climbing will be a bit tiring.
Going up to the pagoda, opening before your eyes is a large campus, fresh air, unique architecture and brilliant bougainvillea bushes.
The difference of Hang Pagoda (Phuoc Dien Tu) is in its unique stance. The pagoda was built with many floors, located along an open-air next to steep and dangerous cliffs. These mountains and cliffs become a giant relief shielding the pagoda.
In the garden of Hang Chau Doc Pagoda, there is a large water lily pond, surrounded by many types of flowers, creating a fresh green space, mixed with white, yellow and red flowers.
From the pagoda’s garden, visitors to Hang Pagoda also have the opportunity to admire the picture of the peaceful countryside of An Giang. Hang Pagoda built a separate area to worship Maitreya Buddha, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and the Four Dharma Protectors standing looking down at the foot of the mountain.
Deep inside the grounds, you will see two stupas designed with vibrant colors and elaborately carved details. These two stupas are places of worship for the two abbots who had the greatest contributions in the process of building and forming Hang Pagoda: Ms. Dieu Thien and monk Thich Hue Thien.
The main hall of Hang Pagoda in An Giang is not too large but is built very majestically, decorated with extremely artistically carved reliefs. The main hall is guarded by a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and a number of other deities. In front of the pagoda is a 20m high banner with white statues of various mascots. Below the steps are two quite lively lion statues.
Going through the main hall area, you will see a small temple located right next to a natural cave, which is also the origin of the pagoda’s name.
Inside the cave, there are also two altars and two large statues of snakes, their eyes lit up with lights creating a mysterious spiritual effect. Besides the worship halls, Hang Pagoda in An Giang is currently also building other structures so that visitors can rest or stay overnight.
Source: collected by An.