Visiting Keo pagoda in Thai Binh province

(VOVworld)- Keo pagoda is famous for its unique wooden structure, which represents Vietnam’s ancient architectural style.
Visiting Keo pagoda in Thai Binh province - ảnh 1

Keo pagoda is located in Duy Nhat commune, Vu Thu district, 15 km from Thai Binh city. According to researchers, the pagoda now comprises 128 rooms arranged with those for worshiping the Buddha in the front and those for worshiping Genies in the back. The pagoda has 3 lakes around it, one in the front and two at both sides, creating a beautiful surrounding.

Visitors to Keo pagoda area amazed at its front gate which is 2 meters high and 2.6 meters wide and is engraved with dragons that embrace the aesthetic style that came after the Le dynasty (1428-1789). Le Phuong Dung is a local tour guide:“Under the Le dynasty from the 15th to 18th century, dragons appeared in groups with a mother and baby dragons. The mother dragon has a fierce and strong appearance and is covered by cloud of fire.”

Visiting Keo pagoda in Thai Binh province - ảnh 2

The section worshiping Buddha has nearly 100 statues. Behind is the area for worshiping Monk Khong Lo of the Ly dynasty (1010-1226). Next to the section for worshiping genies is a well built on 36 rock barrels, which, according to legend, were used for grinding rice for those who built the pagoda.

The bell tower is the most outstanding feature of the Keo pagoda. It is 11.04 meters high and has a three-layered 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 is 1.30 meters high and 1 m in diameter. There are 2 smaller bells on the third and the upper floor which are 0.62 meters high and 0.69 in diameter. Both of them were casted in 1796. Nguyen Van Nam is a visitor: “The bell tower is really high. I can’t imagine how they could place such heavy bells atop the tower without cranes or a pulley. As far as I can tell, our grandparents made a high earth mould to hang the bell and then leveled down the mould to hang the other bells. To do this, they needed a lot of earth. Next to the bell tower, there is a very beautiful lake”.

Keo pagoda also offers local specialties. The pagoda yard is the place where local people display their farm produce like maize, beans, and nuts. Pham Thi Nga is a visitor: “Local farm produce include beans, soya beans, black beans, mung beans, and glutinous rice. There are also “Cay” cakes and peanut candies. These local specialties are the gifts that we buy when we visit the pagoda.”

After more than 400 years, Keo pagoda still retains its architectural value. The Keo pagoda festival is held annually attracting a large number of visitors. Pham Thi Nga, a Thai Binh local, says Keo pagoda is a must-visit spiritual destination for visitors to Thai Binh province: “There are two festivals a year at the pagoda but the main festival in September is less crowded than during the early days of the year. There are a lot of pilgrims and visitors during January, February, and March. The main day of the spring festival falls on the 14th day of the first lunar month. But on the 14th and the full-moon day, there are singing performances and rice cooking competitions.”

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