According to legend, Xa Tac Temple was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries under the Tran dynasty to worship Xa Tac (God of Land and Agriculture) – the goddess of the old Mong Cai people. The temple was originally located on a large-scale area on the bank of Thac Mang River. It included three compartments roofed by double tiles. However, in the early 20th century, the temple collapsed due to a devastating storm; then it was rebuilt in the Xoay Nguon area and was renamed Xoay Nguon Temple by local people.

Xa Tac Temple

In spite of the multiple restorations through the ups and downs in history, the temple has retained its historical, cultural and spiritual values. In 2005, the temple was recognized as a provincial-level historical-cultural relic by the Quang Ninh provincial People’s Committee and was upgraded in 2009 on the area of around 20,000sq.m. The main two-storey temple, constructed on an area of 308sq.m in ironwood and bricks, has three compartments and two associated chambers. Its roofs were carved with sophisticated traditional patterns.

In the present time, the temple is a sacred spiritual destination of people in Mong Cai and the surroundings. Apart from the first and full-moon days of every lunar month, January 16, May 2, August 16, December 16 and December 18 on the lunar calendar are the five major annually events held at the temple and people flock to the temple to present offerings to the God. Among these days, January 16 is a special one when people host a festival to pray for peace. On this day, locals prepare, sacrifice and cook a pig, and arrange fruits, votive paper, wine and cakes as offerings and make paper boats to present to the God. The paper boats are then released on a river to pray for peace and prosperity.

Situated majestically in the Northeast region, the Temple is a place in worship of not only the God of the district but also the God of mountains and rivers of Vietnam. To promote its historical and cultural values, the province this year decided to restore the Xa Tac offering ritual to help local people and pilgrims learn more about cultural and spiritual life of the Vietnamese people.

Translated by Tran Hoai