Ba Chau Doc Pagoda in An Giang is a famous spiritual tourist destination from ancient times to the present, playing an important role in the spiritual life of indigenous people, attracting millions of tourists from all over to visit here each year.
- Introduction to Ba Chau Doc Pagoda in An Giang Province
Ba Chau Doc Pagoda, also known as Ba Chua Xu Pagoda of Sam Mountain, is an outstanding sacred destination with a prime location between the “Tam Giang” and the mysterious “That Son” mountain range. This place has preserved many religious beliefs over decades and is a relic of high historical value in An Giang province.
Located on the top of the 284-meter-high Sam Mount, near the Cambodian border, Ba Chau Doc Pagoda is a delicate combination of Asian and Western architecture. Moreover, the pagoda is surrounded by natural green beauty, giving visitors peace in the heart of the mountains and forests. This is a famous spiritual tourist destination and a familiar pilgrimage place where many tourists choose to pray for favorable work and peaceful family life. This place is also considered an important cultural and spiritual symbol of An Giang province and the Southwest region.
- The thrilling history of Ba Chua Xu of Sam Mountain
Ba Chau Doc Pagoda in An Giang is a long-standing historical and architectural relic. The belief in worshiping Ba Chua Xu at the pagoda is considered a part of the belief in worshiping the Vietnamese Mother Goddess. The popularity of this temple stems from stories passed down through word of mouth for many generations:
There is an anecdote that, between 1820 and 1825, a group of Siamese soldiers chased people up the mountain and discovered the statue of Ba Chau Doc. They want to bring the statue back to their country. However, even though dozens of strong soldiers tried to carry the statue, after only walking a few steps, the statue became so heavy that it could not be moved. The general was so angry that he broke one of the arms of the statue. Immediately, the statue punished this general, killing him on the spot and causing the rest to panic and run away. Since then, the Siamese army has been afraid and did not dare to harass the villagers in that area anymore. The villagers also from there respectfully called her Ba Chua Xu, which means the god of the Chau Doc region. Therefore, today, when visiting the main hall of Ba Chua Xu Pagoda, you will see the parallel sentence:
“Cầu tất ứng, thí tất linh, mộng trung chỉ thị
Xiêm khả kinh, Thanh khả mộ, ý ngoại nan lượng”
“Praying surely works, she grants spiritual blessings and sends signs in dreams.
The Siamese army was terrified, the Qing people respected it, it was unimaginable.”
After life returned to peace, people found the statue of Ba Chua Xu on the mountain. The goodness had an epiphany and guided the village residents on how to carry out the ceremony of carrying statues down the mountain and building temples for worship. The goodness promised that if the people followed the instructions, goodness would bestow upon them blessings, bring favorable winds, and good harvests, reduce hardships caused by epidemics, and protect them from diseases and foreign invaders. Since then, Ba Chua Xu Pagoda in Sam Mountain has become a place to place faith and pray for family peace for local people and tourists when visiting.
- The unique architecture of Ba Chau Doc Pagoda
The architecture of the Ba Chau Doc Temple reflects the richness of Asian culture and art. At the top of the main hall, powerful and majestic statues of gods are holding the ends of the rafters, creating an impressive image. Details such as the frame, door, and other parts of the temple are carved and engraved in a sophisticated and splendid way.
The main hall of Ba Chau Doc Temple consists of two floors, with the innermost floor reserved for worship. Here, her statue is placed on a high pedestal, next to two white cranes symbolizing her immortality. To the right of the statue is a stone Linga (symbol of male vitality), called the “Cau” altar. On the other side is the altar of a wooden statue carved in the shape of a Yoni (symbol of female vitality), called the “Co” altar. On the second floor, near the two phoenix statues, is the Council altar. On both sides of the Council altar is the altar of the Early Sages, on the left, and on the right is the altar of the Later Sages. When visiting the main hall area, you will have the opportunity to admire the elaborate sculptural architecture, creating a solemn space for worship.
- The “golden” time to go on a pilgrimage to Ba Chau Doc Pagoda
The time to go on a pilgrimage to Ba Chau Doc An Giang Pagoda is extremely diverse depending on each person’s schedule and time arrangement.
However, Ba Chua Xu Pagoda is famous for its sacredness, where all wishes are fulfilled, so the number of pilgrims visiting the pagoda increases every year, especially during religious festivals that take place from January to April of the lunar calendar.
Among the festivals, the ceremony to pray for Ba Chua Xu’s soul, held from the 22nd to the 27th day of the 4th lunar month, attracts millions of tourists from all over the country, especially a large number of tourists from Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, and neighboring provinces. They come to Ba Chau Doc Pagoda to offer incense, pray for peace, and participate in the vibrant atmosphere of the festival.
However, if you do not like the crowded and bustling atmosphere, you should avoid visiting the temple during religious festivals or on weekends and holidays. On every holiday and New Year, Vietnamese people have a tradition of going to pagodas to pray for luck, fortune, and prosperity for the whole year. These are also times when not only are they crowded and ticket prices are higher than usual, but they are also prone to crimes such as robbery, pickpocketing, and price gouging, making you feel uncomfortable throughout the trip.
- Things to keep in mind when visiting Ba Chua Xu Pagoda
To have the best experience when visiting Ba Chau Doc Pagoda, SBS suggests that you should choose the early days of the week or the middle of the week. In addition, when visiting a temple, you should not buy birds to release because the service does not bring the good benefits you think. When you buy, the seller will open the cage to let the birds fly out and you will have to pay a large sum of money even though only a few birds are actually released. Additionally, due to the number of birds confined in a small space, they may have difficulty flying long distances, or may even be unable to fly.
Besides, you should also avoid buying roasted pigs near the temple to worship. Many people often buy whole roasted pigs to worship the goddess, but roasted pigs sold near Ba Chau Doc Pagoda are often not hygienic and the price is often much higher than at the market. There have been many cases of conflicts between sellers and buyers. Besides, you should not listen to vendors to buy incense and fortune on the path to the temple, but instead you should prepare it before going to avoid unnecessary trouble because those things will be sold at high prices. Therefore, SBS advises that it is best to avoid buying birds, roast pigs, or incense near the temple area to avoid “money wasted, illness gotten”.
After completing the worship ritual, you can enjoy the peaceful space and admire the landscape around the Ba Chau Doc Pagoda, which will become a paradise for those who are passionate about fish pastes such as Vietnamese fermented snakehead sauce or fermented henicorhynchus sauce. As soon as you step out of the temple, you will immediately smell the characteristic fish pastes sold everywhere here and this will be an interesting gift to give to relatives and friends when you return home. In particular, you can also visit Chau Doc market, Long Xuyen floating market, and Tinh Bien market to enjoy famous An Giang specialties such as jaggery, Chau Doc fish noodle soup,…