Tay An Pagoda

In the book "Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (Dai Nam's history), there is a remark about the Tay An Co Tu Pagoda (Tay An): “located on one side of a mountain and headed towards the town with quiet and peaceful atmosphere, Tay An is really a beautiful sight”.

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Location: Lying on one side of the Sam Mountain, Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province.

Characteristics: Tay An is an ancient pagoda with a mixture of Vietnamese and Asian architectural styles.

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Tay An was constructed in 1847 and has been rehabilitated and repaired many times. In 1958, it was thoroughly upgraded to encompass a total area of 1,250sq.m with nearly 200 statues. Water and electricity was also available and could be supplied to over 1,000 people.

Tay An is an ancient pagoda with a mixture of Vietnamese and Asian architectural styles. Lying on one side of the Sam Mountain, under the lights, the pagoda itself looks like a monk dressed in yellow, heading to Chau Doc Town, An Giang Province.

Legend says that one night, after a hard day of work; Provincial Chief Doan Uan could not get sleep. He walked to a guard tower in An Giang Castle (near Chau Doc Market) and looked up into the sky. Suddenly, he saw a cloud in five colours taking off from the base of the Sam Mountain, and inside the cloud he saw a Bodhisattva with a holy appearance, bold head, beard and the face of a farmer looking down with beautiful eyes. Behind the Bodhisattva were male and female believers singing wonderful tunes to welcome a good rice crop. Several days later, a pagoda with brick walls, green stone floors and red tiles was constructed, facing east in honour of the vision and with the hopes of making it come true. A good rice crop would help stabilise people’s living conditions and develop the country. The front of the pagoda was designed in a similar style to Indian ones. It has an oval dome and the roof is in the shape of a sailboat. However, designs inside the pagoda basically follow the style of traditional Vietnamese Buddhist pagodas. The Dai Hong Bell is of particular interest as it was made of gold and copper under the Tu Duc’s Reign and is now over 111 years old. Somehow it has even managed to keep the sound of its voice ringing clear after all these years.

Passing the nice-step stairs, visitors will enter the gate of the pagoda and standing at the temple gate, they will see the Mother Holding Child Statue. There are two large statues of elephants in the ground of the pagoda. One is a black elephant with two ivories, representing power over malice and another is a white one with six ivories, representing restful mind.

Tay An, the Western Corridor is very large and able to provide space for over 100 pilgrims at the same time. In front of this corridor, there are two statues of the Goddess of Mercy in white and inside the corridor are two large statues of A Di Da God. Rooms for monks are located at the back of the pagoda. Pilgrims visiting the Tay An Pagoda to pray and smoke from their incense creates a solemn atmosphere. The main temple has more than 100 statues each representing the power of Buddhism; the most prominent statue is a Buddha sitting on the Lotus Tower.

Leader monks have made great contribution to the construction of the pagoda. They include Phat Thay Tay An (in the 19th century), Thich Bao Tho (in the 20th century) and today superior monk Thich Hue Kinh, who has been voted to be a member of the An Giang Buddhism Association. The solemnity and holiness of Tay An has become an invisible power, attracting a great number of monks and pilgrims. But the solemn and ancient style of architecture and peaceful space are what visitors will never forget. On December 6th, 1989, the Ministry of Culture and Information officially classified Tay An Pagoda as a national historical site.