Chau Doc, a place associated with sacredness with feng shui of the three rivers and mountains; along with many mysteries and religious beliefs that have existed for a long time. Referring to this region, people cannot help but remember The Lady Temple (Vietnamese: chùa Bà Chúa Xứ, chùa means temple) in Sam Mountain, a famous spiritual tourist destination not only in the Southwest region, but also known to Vietnamese people abroad.
General information about The Lady Temple
The Lady Temple is not only a spiritual place but also associated with historical stories about people reclaiming the land as well as fighting against foreign invaders. The temple is located at the foot of Sam Mountain in Sam Mountain Ward, Chau Doc City, An Giang Province. There are many mysterious legends surrounding the original of the temple, passed down from generation to generation.
Legend has it that the Lady of Sam Mountain is a quite sacred figure, she gets whatever she prays for, so every year, the temple attracts millions of visitors to visit and pay their respects, especially on each occasion of Tet Holiday and Spring.
According to a popular legend, local people in Chau Doc discovered the Lady statue of the on the top of Sam mountain and wanted to bring it down. However, dozens of strong young men tried to carry her statue but could not. The goddess possesses a young village girl to tell the villagers that only nine virgin girls would be able to carry her.
They proceeded until arriving at the foot of the mountain where the Lady decided she was meant to remain, and she became heavy once more. Villagers think that goddess chose this place to settle down here and built a shrine to worship her.
Another legend related to this temple is about the merits of Mr. Thoai Ngoc Hau, a mandarin representing the Vietnamese court during the early days of occupation of the south of Vietnam. When he went to suppress foreign invaders at the border, Ms. Chau Thi Te prayed to the Lady to help him quell the enemy and keep the village peaceful. To give thanks for the miracles, Mr. Thoai Ngoc Hau invited her from the top of Sam mountain to build a spacious temple at the foot of the mountain and chose April 24 as the day to worship her.
Who is the Lady of Sam Mountain?
According to many studies, the statue of the Lady is considered the oldest sandstone statue in Vietnam.
Louis Malleret, a French archaeologist, researched and said that the Lady statue belonged to the group of statues of Vishnu (male god). According to research and predictions, her statue has very high artistic value and was carved at the end of the 6th century. Most likely, the Ba statue is a remaining artifact of the Oc Eo civilization.
Similarly, according to the notes of writer Son Nam, he said that the Lady statue was originally a male Buddha statue of the ancient Khmer people that was forgotten for a long time on the top of Sam mountain. Vietnamese people bring the statue to temple, repaint, and become women wearing silk dresses and necklaces. And from then on, “The Lady” is a deity with great power in that area.
The architecture of the Lady Temple Temple in Sam Mountain
The Lady Temple was started construction by Mr. Thoai Ngoc Hau in the past. Initially, the temple was built with a wooden structure and a quite simple design. Later, local people were grateful to the Lady for helping the locality have good weather and protecting the village, so they donated and built a quite spacious with stone pieces and covered with yin and yang tiles.
The architecture of her temple has a rich artistic culture. High above the main hall, there are extremely powerful and majestic statues of gods holding out their arms to support the ends of the rafters. The frame, door and details of the temple are carved, engraved, and decorated with utmost sophistication and splendor.
The temple’s architecture had a block-shaped tower in the shape of a blooming lotus flower, a three-storey roof, roofed with large blue tube tiles, and the corner of the roof soared high like the bow of a boat surfing the waves. Inside the temple there is a main hall, a living room, a room for the Noble Committee…
The main hall consists of two layers, with the innermost layer being a place of worship with a statue of the Lady sitting on a high pedestal, next to which are placed two white cranes. The incense altar on the right side of the Lady statue is a stone Linga (male vitality). On the other side is an incense altar worshiping a wooden statue carved in the shape of a Yoni (female vitality). The second layer, next to the two phoenix statues, is the altar worship ancestors, those who have contributed to the community, and country.
The frames and doors are all carved, engraved, and exquisitely decorated, and many of the tureens and horizontal panels here are also brilliantly golden.
Festival at the Lady Temple
From January to April of the lunar calendar every year, the temple is always bustling with people coming to pray.
The Lady Temple festival in Sam Mountain takes place (April 24-27 of the lunar calendar), with the main day being the 25th. In 2015, the Via Ba Chua Xu Festival was approved by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Tourism is recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage.
The campus is extremely spacious and airy with shady green trees and many beautifully shaped scenes. The highlight for the space is the bright colors of flowers.
In the evening, when the lights come on, the ancient temple space becomes even more sparkling.
After visiting the temple, lighting incense to pray for peace and good things for yourself and your family, you can climb to the top floor of the temple, admire the scenery from above, look into the distance, you can see the whole corner of the city.
Vietdreamtravel is running package tour to visit My Tho – Ben Tre; Cai Rang Floating Market, Tra Su cajuput forest and stop over Sam Mountain to visit The Lady Temple. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more details.