Clay Pagoda and Bat Pagoda are two unique pagodas in Soc Trang, bear a strong mark of Khmer culture. Both of them are attracting many tourists when coming to this region.
The pagoda is called Buu Son Pagoda, located in the middle of a normal residential area with a small area. Clay pagoda was built 200 years ago, founded by a member of the Ngo family to practice at home. The pagoda had no monks but was managed by family members. The reason why the pagoda is famous because all the artifacts in the pagoda, instead of being made of wood, gold, silver, and bronze, are made of clay. This is also the only pagoda in the country made of this material.
When first built, the pagoda was built with ordinary local wood. In 1928, Mr. Ngo Kim Tong of the fourth generation renovated and embellished the pagoda by molding worship statues and mascots out of clay instead of having to cast them in bronze or carve them out of wood. In 42 years, 1,991 large and small statues were completed. Up to now, these large and small statues are still intact at Clay Pagoda. Although carved from clay, the statues have beautiful colors and charisma as if they were made of wood.
In the pagoda grounds with the main hall and garden, statues of Amitabha, Shakyamuni, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Confucius, and the Jade Emperor are arranged according to the ideology of the Three Teachings (Buddhist – Confucian – Laotian).
Clay Pagoda is also famous for six large candles, each weighing 200kg and two small candles, each weighing 100kg. Two small candles have been burning for more than 40 years and have never been extinguished. After the two small candles go out, the next pair of large candles will be lit in turn.
It is expected that each of them will burn for about 70 years. Thus, if each candle is burned, it will take about 400 years to run out of candles in the pagoda.
Not far from Clay Pagoda is Bat Pagoda, located in a residential area that attracting many tourist on a trip to explore Soc Trang. The pagoda has another name: Ma Toc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Soc Trang province.
Right from the entrance, you will feel overwhelmed by the brilliant yellow color. The pagoda gate and surrounding walls are elaborately decorated with beautiful floral motifs. Within the pagoda grounds are hundreds of ancient trees, spreading shade throughout the grounds and gardens. Bat Pagoda was built more than 400 years ago, bearing the mark of Khmer culture.
The pagoda consists of three main areas: the main hall, the sala (meeting area) and the ancient building, who was instrumental in restoring the pagoda. The complex is arranged harmoniously with spacious, airy main areas, always open to receive sunlight and cool breezes.
The main hall was built in 1569 with a painted and gilded Buddha statue, about 2 meters high, and many small Buddha statues. The surrounding walls have sharp paintings of Buddhist life.
After visiting all the main areas, visitors can spend time strolling in the garden, under the green and shady trees of ancient trees. These vast tree canopies are home to many species of large bats, up to thousands of them. This is also the reason why this pagoda is famous as Bat Pagoda.
Strangely, the bats here do not eat or destroy the trees in the pagoda, but they consider this as their home, a place to reside and rest. Every night, after searching for food everywhere, they gather here, hang from tree branches in the pagoda, and sleep for a long time. Under the shade of the tree canopy and the quiet space of the pagoda, the bats do not hesitate to see the tourists who are curiously looking at them, keeping their eyes half-closed.
Source: collected by An