Patum Wongsa Som Rong, or Som Rong Pagoda, is located at 367 Ton Duc Thang Street, Ward 5, southern Soc Trang Town. The pagoda dates back to around 1785 and was originally built using bamboo, wood and simple leaf roofing. It is the work of Khmer people, an ethnic group that resides in many parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Around the area, there are many local Som Rong trees, lending the pagoda its name.
The pagoda, routinely restored, features the reclining Buddha statue, a main hall, Sala, a monastery and stupa.
The main hall is used for worship with its roof decorated with details depicting the goddess Keynor and Krud, a bird god. On both sides of the entrance are statues of qilin, a mythical chimerical creature known in East Asian cultures.
"Moonlight on Som Rong Pagoda" was shot by Pham Huy Trung from Ho Chi Minh City on the evening of October 30.
In this photo, the reclining Buddha looks out towards the rising moon, the Sala and stupa. The latter features four directions and four paths representing benevolence, mercy, cheerfulness and indifference. Along both sides of the path leading to the stupa are details of Naga the serpent god and Khmer patterns. On the tower is a statue of Gautama Buddha meditating.
The moon rises above Sala, a solemn building introduced on January 31, 2017. Its architecture combines both traditional Khmer culture and modernity with a unique color scheme, creating a charming highlight in Som Rong Pagoda.
The Sala functions as a lecture hall, a place to welcome guests during traditional national festivals and a place to host monks. Inside is a simple altar with murals depicting the life of Gautama Buddha.
The highlight of the temple is its reclining Buddha statue that is 63 m long, 22.5 m high and weighs 490 tons. It is currently one of the largest reclining Buddhas in Vietnam. It can be seen from hundreds of meters away.
The reclining Buddha commenced construction in October 2017 and is nearly done, with only the painting and decoration process left.
Trung said the first time he visited the pagoda, he was impressed by the reclining Buddha’s artistic value.
The Buddha reclines magnificently in the 6 p.m. sunset. Like other Khmer temples in Soc Trang, Som Rong Pagoda is closely associated with the cultural, daily and spiritual life of the local community.
“Every day many tourists come here to visit and take pictures. The reclining Buddha, when completed, will create a beautiful and harmonious feeling at the pagoda, making it a famous place of worship for Buddhist believers and a well-known spiritual tourism spot in Soc Trang Province," Lam Binh Thanh, deputy abbot of Som Rong Pagoda said.