Unique architecture makes centuries-old pagoda special hinh anh 1The bell tower of Keo Pagoda (Photo: VNA)

Located in Vu Thu district, the northern province of Thai Binh, the pagoda initially included 157 compartments covering a total area of 58,000 sq.m. It is surrounded by three lakes, one in the front and two at both sides, creating a beautiful surrounding.

Also known as Than Quang Tu (Than Quang Pagoda), Keo Pagoda worships Buddha and Duong Khong Lo, a monk of the Ly Dynasty (1009 - 1225), who founded the pagoda. Duong Khong Lo was born in 1016 in Giao Thuy district, the northern province of Nam Dinh.

He became a monk at 29. In 1061, after practicing Buddhism in India, he returned home and founded Nghiem Quang Pagoda.

In 1167, King Ly Anh Tong renamed the pagoda Than Quang. However, it was pulled down by a typhoon in 1611 and rebuilt in 1632. The pagoda now has 128 compartments covering 2,000 sq.m.

Despite several upgrades and repairs over the past 400 years, it retains its unique architecture dating back the 17th century. The section for worshiping Buddha houses nearly 100 statues. At its rear is the area for worshiping the founder of the pagoda.

Next to the section for worshiping genies is a well walled with 36 rock barrels which, according to legend, were used for polishing rice for those who built the pagoda. The bell tower is the most outstanding feature of Keo Pagoda. It is 11.04m high and has a three-layered tile roof. On the first floor of the tower, there is a 1.2 meter-high stone plaque.

On the second floor, there is a bronze bell casted in 1686 which measures 1.30m high and 1m in diameter. There are two smaller bells on the third and the upper floors which are 0.62m high and 0.69m in diameter, both casted in 1796. In September 2012, the pagoda was designated as a special national relic. Keo Pagoda Festival was recognised as part of the national intangible cultural heritage in 2017 and the wooden bell tower of the structure, by the Vietnam Record Organisation (Vietkings), as the tallest of its kind in the country in 2007.

The festival is held annually from the 10th to 15th day of the ninth lunar month to honour the founder of the pagoda. In addition, a spring one takes place here annually on the 4th day of the first lunar month.

Keo Pagoda is not only a place of worship but also one to learn more about Buddhism and to explore the history and culture of Vietnam.

Source: VNA