Brief History of White Elephant Pagoda (Watdomreysor)
White Elephant Pagoda is officially called Svetachatkuchchey, (white Elephant), located at kamkor Village, Svaypour Commune, Battambang District, Battambang Province. Its location is next to the Provincial Museum gate to the east, next to the Garden to the south, next to the street 3 to the west, next to road of Battambang Municipality to the north. It is of 266m in length and 130 m in width, its size is 34580 m2. This Pagoda was built in 1793 by an unknown monk who had conducted pretty grass and did Vipasana Mediation; in result the Buddhists, who was believed and confident on him and invited him to be as a mediation teacher by choosing the Elephant’s house, where was used by governor to fight, at ancient time, to be mediation educational place. After that, it became a hermitage and became Svetachatkuchchey, called White Elephant Pagoda, up to now, by being named to that Elephant house. Before 1975, since 1793, being changed from mediation school to hermitage and to Svetachatkuchchey, there was another monk who was not to be named, but Buddhists commonly called (loktayak), who was the head of Pagoda after previous monks, had motivated the Buddhists to renovate mediation school to school of music, to nunnery houses, to the monks’ houses. The ponds had been dig on the Sangkea River for the monk to take bath, when that time the Pagoda was next to Sangkea River, which these lands have become the land of Museum nowadays. The monk had encouraged the Buddhists to build a place (where the monks eat and gather) and had motivated the governor, named Katha Thoun Chum and Chumteav Ang to build a temple in 1904 and was inaugurated by them at that time. (In the time, when Cambodia was controlled by Thai).
In 1922, after previous monk had died, a new chief of Pagoda, named mom, had taken office and had built the dialing, which covered by tile and built a school of music, basing before the temple and some shrines. In 1939, a chief of Pagoda, named Threa, had continued to construct a tie covered dialing and had persuaded the school of music to be moved to behind the temple ( he was crazy ). From 1950 to 1975, the chief of Pagoda, named Yeum Dul and a Pagoda committee member, who named They Yan, had constructed temple, the dialing, shrine, Primary pali school, toilet and crematorium. In 1975 in Pol Pot regime, the monk had been forced to leave from the monkhood, this Pagoda had been used to be an educational place, the temple used to be a pig feeding, the dialing used as military’s home, the Buddha statues had been destroyed. In 1979, the pagoda was liberated from Khmer rouge by Cambodia Solidarity Front (Currently, Cambodian People Party), the first interim pagoda chief, named Yeum Yorn, had led the Buddhists to clear the forest and clean the perimeter of pagoda. In 1984, a pagoda chief, Bat Chea, had not do anything because the war. In 1986, pagoda chief, Oeur loeurm, called (Tab), archbishop, liv houy, Tep souv, pagoda committee, Ta Rom, Va Hun, Ta Mong, Ta Kea, had initiated to be removed tie, temple’s hand. In 1995, a citing pagoda chief, named So Vong, archbishop, Houy, Teb Sou, Soav May, Sam Roeun, Pagoda committee, Pum Sary, Kong Ban, Kerm Saron, Teb Han, Ros Sabeoun, Prak phiron, had motivated the Buddists to build two two – story houses and a one story house, rebuild one school of music, one crematorium, five shrines, repaired Pali school, one library, one nunnery house with five rooms, four stone made gates, repaired pagoda gate. Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, Battambang Branch, was donated by Samdach Chea Sim and His Excellency Prach Chan, Battambang governor.