Khai Doan Pagoda – Dak Lak

Khai Doan Pagoda is located at 89A Phan Boi Chau Street, Thong Nhat Ward, Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province. This is a pagoda of the Viet people living in Dak Lak Province. It boasts a unique feature: a design that is a combination of the Central Highlands long house and palaces of the Hue Royal Court.

In 1951, Doan Huy Hoang Thi Cuc, the mother of Bao Dai, the last king of the Nguyen Dynasty who abdicated his throne in 1945, donated seven hectares that she possessed in the Central Highlands region to build a pagoda, recognizing the increasing popularity of Buddhism in the country. After work on it was completed in 1953, Doan Huy named it the Khai Doan Pagoda, combining the given names of her deceased husband and herself.

The appearance of Khai Doan Pagoda marked Buddhism’s development in the Central Highlands region. The first abbot of the pagoda was Monk Thich Duc Thieu. Until now, Khai Doan has had seven abbots, and the pagoda has gone through several expansions and embellishments.

Khai Doan Pagoda was given a reddish brown earth color, the color of basalt soil in the Central Highlands.

The pagoda’s architecture is in tam character style, with a three-entrance gate at the front. As there are several steps to climb to reach the pagoda from this gate, those who are on vehicles or otherwise unable to negotiate the stairs can use the rear entrance.

Inside the pagoda, its unique features becomes obvious. While the roofs are characteristic of the nha dai (long house), its pillars were carved in style similar to the Royal Court in Hue.

Nha dai, a long house on stilts where several families live together, is favored by the Ede ethnic minority. The long-roofed house is distinct from the nha rong in that the former is a residence while the latter serves as a venue for meetings or festivals.

The 320-square meter sanctum of the pagoda has seven bronze Buddha and Bodhisattva statues. The 1.1-meter tall Sakyanumi Buddha statue is highest, placed in the middle. In front of the statue is a Buddha relic gifted by Monk Narada Thera from Sri Lanka in 1953 when the pagoda was inaugurated.

You will be impressed by a large bell that weighs 380 kilograms and is 1.15 meters high. Made by highly skilled craftsmen from the former feudal capital of Hue, the bell has sophisticated carvings on it and its chimes can be heard far away, reminding Buddhists and others that it is time to meditate on the ephemeral nature of life.

In the garden surrounding the pagoda is a statue of the Buddha under a tall Bodhi tree that reminded us of the enlightenment that the Compassionate One attained and pointed humankind to. The fresh, tranquil atmosphere swept away the stress we’d been carrying from our daily lives.

Along with the Bao Dai Palace, Lac Giao communal house, and Buon Ma Thuot Penitentiary, the Khai Doan Pagoda has added to Dak Lak’s tourist attractions, but it offers more than an aesthetically pleasing experience.

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