The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh is home to many Khmer pagodas worth a visit, but the most popular and original one is probably Hang Pagoda, or Cave Pagoda.
Hang Pagoda is located in Chau Thanh District in Tra Vinh Province. It was built in 1637 with the Khmer name of Kompong Cray Pagoda.
To enter the pagoda, tourists will have to walk through a cave-like entrance whose width, length and depth are 12 meters each, explaining for its name as Hang Pagoda (Hang means cave in Vietnamese).
The pagoda’s architecture shows strong influence of the Indian culture. For example, there are two Yak statues with convex eyes, long fangs, wearing armor and holding a cane, flanking the entrance. In the Indian culture, Yak is known as a cruel ogre who was then converted by Buddha to protect the pagoda.
The main building of Hang Pagoda is placed in the center of a tree garden which makes it look like a giant palace. The front of the building is decorated with a meticulous carving of Naga, the god of snake with seven heads, while the interior exhibits rows of pillars, and paintings of Buddhism surrounding an imposing statue of Buddha in the center.
Hang Pagoda’s campus looks freshly green with ancient trees whose stumps and roots will be used by the monks to create stunning wooden sculptures.