Som Rong pagoda in Soc Trang province
Update: Aug 14, 2023
The Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang has 92 Khmer pagodas. Som Rong is a spacious pagoda with unique Khmer architecture. In April the Soc Trang provincial People’s Committee issued a document recognizing Som Rong as a provincial tourist destination.

The main hall of Som Rong pagoda. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)

Som Rong pagoda occupies an area of 5 ha surrounded by trees. There are several constructions, notably a giant reclining Buddha statue, whose magnificent beauty overwhelms visitors.

The pagoda’s gate is decorated with Khmer symbols such as Nagar snakes and Krud divine birds. The path from the gate to the main pagoda is shaded by perennial trees. 

On either side of the main entrance stand two unicorns to protect the Buddha from evil spirits. On the walls and ceiling of the main hall are frescoes that recount the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. There are also many statues of Buddha Shakyamuni, including two wooden statues made in 1785 when the pagoda was built.

Most Venerable Lam Binh Thanh, Deputy Abbot of the pagoda, said, “The pagoda has a main hall, a stupa where the remains of Abbots and prominent Buddhists are kept, and the Sala house, where Buddhist followers worship and assemble. The reclining Buddha statue, built in 2018, is the largest in Vietnam. The pagoda yard has abundant trees and beautiful lawns where visitors enjoy taking photos.”

The Sala house of Som Rong pagoda. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)

The pagoda is named after a wild plant which used to grow abundantly in this area. Today, the pagoda only has two Som Rong trees. The original pagoda was made of bamboo and wood with a simple thatched roof. Multiple restorations have made it more spacious.

Som Rong pagoda has two mysterious rocks which float on water and are never submerged. The two rocks are firmly placed under the Buddha altar in the Sala house. They differ in size, but both weigh 4.2kg. The surface of the rocks is not smooth, but very porous. Venerable Ly Duc, Abbot of Som Rong pagoda, brought the two rocks from Cambodia in 2018.

Another outstanding construction is the stupa which is parallel with the main hall. The stupa is painted gray, not the traditional yellow color, giving it a modern, majestic look. Its four gates, facing in four directions, represent benevolence, mercy, cheerfulness, and indifference.  

The stupa of Som Rong pagoda. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)

The path to the stupa is decorated with images of Nagar snakes and ancient Khmer patterns. In the pagoda yard is the majestic statue of Buddha entering Nirvana. The 63-meter-long, 23-meter-tall statue weighs 490 tons and reclines on a platform 28 meters above the ground. The pagoda is also known as the Soc Trang Reclining Buddha Pagoda.

Som Rong pagoda’s recling Buddha statue. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)

"The reclining Buddha statue lies in a spacious area. I’ve never seen such a big Buddha statue. The pagoda is ancient and magnificent. If I get another chance, I’ll bring my family to this temple again. I've been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but this pagoda has some unique features,” Tran Van An, a tourist from Thanh Hoa province visiting the pagoda for the first time. 

Som Rong pagoda has a library containing more than 1,500 books.

“This is the first time I’ve visited the pagoda. I’m impressed with the huge reclining Buddha statue. My family is on a sightseeing tour. I hope I can return here some day.The pagoda is quiet and beautiful. We came here to pray for health, peace, and prosperity,” said Huynh Thi Nhu Anh, a tourist from Tien Giang province.

Ngoc Anh

VOVWORLD - - August 11, 2023