Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda (also called Vien Quang Pagoda) is a well-known spot for religious congregations in Can Tho. With a 70-year history, this pagoda has become an old-but-gold place that cherishes tremendous spiritual values to the Khmer community.
This pagoda’s architecture is a winning combination of traditional Khmer architecture, modern Angkor features and avant-garde Southern Khmer design. Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda is currently considered one of the most magnificent and beautiful pagodas in the Mekong Delta region, also a favorite destination for tourists when coming to Can Tho.
I. History of Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda
The pagoda was built in 1948 by Most Venerable Son Tay (customarily referred to as “Ta Tu”). This 645-square-meter pagoda was erected to meet Can Tho Buddhists’s demand for religious studying and practicing. Initially, it was constructed with a simple leaf roof and tree pillars, reflecting the Southern Buddhism style.
Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda is also known as Behind Pagoda because at that time there was another pagoda called “Muni Rangsay Pagoda” (Front Pagoda) lying on the main road of Colonel DESSERT Avenue (Hoa Binh Avenue today).
During the two fierce wars against the French colonists and US imperialists, the pagoda was the shelter for hundreds of youngsters. This was also the place where patriotic monks gathered together for political struggles against the Saigon government.
From 1975 to present, the pagoda has remained a religious haunt of many Khmer Buddhists. It also provides free accommodation for disadvantaged Khmer students studying in Can Tho. In 2008, it underwent complete restoration and in 2012, the pagoda welcomed its new appearance.
II. Architecture and Structure of Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda
Like many other Khmer pagodas in the Southern region, Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda includes the main hall, sala, monk house, kitchen and so on. In particular, the main hall facing the east has 1 ground floor and 3 upper floors.
1. The Roof
Roof architecture is always a vital part of a pagoda. This pagoda’s roof structure has 3 levels, each level is divided into 3 different folds. At the top of the roof, we can see the image of curved and pointed God Cobra Naga while the central part is decorated with a small pointed tower. All those patterns are meticulously carved, which shows the talent as well as aesthetics of Khmer people.
2. The Ground Floor
The ground floor is surrounded with high and concrete walls. As soon as you arrive at this pagoda, you will be impressed by the gate painted yellow and green marble. At the entrance, you will also see a large signboard on which the name of the pagoda in Khmer and Vietnamese is written.
When entering inside, you can admire a statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni placed on the steps leading up to the main hall. This statue is put in a glass box under a tree, which makes it highly conspicuous in the commodious space.
This ground floor is utilized as the parking place, behind it lies a number of rooms, including living room, meeting room, dining room, resting room,… There are also two Sala corridors to the left and the right of the parking lot.
3. The First Floor
Similar to Muni Rangsay Pagoda’s architecture, the main hall lies about 1 meter from the ground. When taking a flight of steps to get into the inner space, it is possible for you to set eyes on the Naga snake statues adorned on both sides of the handrails.
The first floor of Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda is the place worshipping a lot of Buddha Shakyamuni statues. Among them, the two largest statues are 4 5 m high, one of them is made of bronze and the another is made from clay. In addition, there are many paintings about Buddha’s life around the walls as well as a bookcase full of scriptures in Khmer language.
This place is commonly used for celebrating great Khmer rituals such as Chol Chnam Thmay, Moon Worship, Thanksgiving anh Donta.
4. The Second Floor
The second floor is also a shrine bedecked with Buddha Shakyamuni statues and many paintings depicting Buddha’s life. What makes the second floor so special is an area keeping myriads of musical instruments of the Khmer ethnic group. Once visiting this pagoda, you can have a chance to contemplate the traditional wooden drum set, kettle-drums and xylophones of the Khmer community. They are currently kept on static display at the corner of the shrine.
5. The Third Floor
While the first and the second floor are considered “secondary halls”, the third one plays the role of a main hall where essential events of monks take place. Some of the ceremonies held most frequently are Sadi, Khathina, ordinations, meditation, funerals and flower offerings.
Inside the room, you can witness a huge golden Buddha statue in the center and a vibrantly painted statue which is settled behind the Buddha figure. On the opposite wall, it is not difficult to catch the images of this pagoda’s two patriarchs. You can turn to the monks to know more about these two respectable ancestors.
6. The Terrace
The pagoda terrace with balconies is divided into different areas for Buddha statue displaying. You can wander around to observe all the colorful statues here. There is one place depicting the scene of Buddha’s birth with 7 steps and 7 lotus flowers. There is another place illustrating the Buddha delivering his preach under the Bodhi tree. You can discover another zone with a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in the lying position.
III. What to See and Do In Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda?
1. Explore the Art of Architecture
Because of its amazing architecture, Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda will enchant your eyes with its reliefs and design patterns. All the three floors of the pagoda have 12 wooden windows that are covered with delicately-carved reliefs about folk legends. Each relief conveys its own meaning, it can be a Buddhist tale or a Rienke story. Also, you are likely to find many eye-catching reliefs of God Hanuman, Goddess Teppanom and True Samadhi Fire.
Apart from that, the pagoda is embellished with various attractive patterns that are worth decoding. Some of the most notable ones are the stylized Angkor dragon on the front side of the main hall, the combination of Angkor dragon head Fairy Kaynor sacred bird Krud supporting ground beams and roof. You should not forget to examine 16 pictures representing the life of Buddha from birth to nirvana as well.
2. Learn about Khmer Culture
If you are a culture vulture, it is wonderful to pay a visit to Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda on important holidays like Ooc Om Boc Festival, Chol Chnam Thmay Festival or Dolta Festival. On these occasions, you can soak up the festive ambiance as well as partaking in local performance of Cambodian folk dance or Chja Dam dance.
IV. How to Get to Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda?
Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda is situated right in the heart of Can Tho City. It lies on the bank of Xang Thoi Lake, about 1 km from Ninh Kieu Wharf. Upon arrival at An Cu Market, you can find this pagoda without challenge.
If you have been so familiar with Vietnamese-style pagodas, Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda in Can Tho would be a distinctive destination in your travel map. Are you ready for this new taste? Make a plan for a journey to this splendid pagoda without the slightest hesitation.
Keyword: Travel Guide to Pitu Khosa Rangsay Pagoda: Can Tho’s Most Beautiful Khmer Pagoda