My Son Sanctuary: Ruins from the Champa Empire

The relics of an ancient culture

By Quang Binh Tourism Department

View of group of temples B, C and D in My Son by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

My Son Sanctuary is located in an august mighty valley complex. The Sanctuary with over 70 towers-temple architectural structures of Champa civilization retaining historical, cultural, architectural and artistic values from 9 centuries time (from 4th - 13th centuries CE), is regarded as monumental as other renowned relics in the South East Asia region such as Angkor, Bagan, Borobudur. As the cultural heritage’s globally prominent values need to be protected for the sake of all humankind, My Son relic complex was entered in the UNESCO’s register as a World Cultural Heritage in 1999.

View of group of temples B, C and D in My Son by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Kazik (Kazimiers – Kwiatkowski) – an accomplished architect who has had years working at My Son, once said: “Old Cham people have put their spirit into stone and soil. They were able to create a grandeur and sacred My Son on the basis of nature. This is a priceless museum of architecture and sculpture of humanity that it would take a long time for us to fully grasp”.

Cham My Son temple E1 by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Cultural exchanges, the Indian civilization adaption, including religious beliefs. Hinduism gradually strengthened its role in Champa society, influencing all aspects of socio-political life. My Son became the very religious center of the ancient Cham kingdom.

Group of B temples in My Son sanctuary by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The relics of a glory ancient culture

The monuments of the My Son sanctuary are the most important constructions of the My Son civilization. The tower temples were constructed over ten centuries of continuous development in what was the heart of the ancestral homeland of the ruling Dua Clan which unified the Cham clans and established the kingdom of Champapura (Sanskrit for City of the Cham people) in 192 CE. 

My Son B1 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

During the 4th to 13th centuries CE this unique culture, on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam, owed its spiritual origins to the Hinduism of the Indian sub-continent. Under this influence many temples were built to the Hindu divinities such as Krishna and Vishnu, but above all Shiva.

My Son C3 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Although Mahayan Buddhist penetrated the Cham culture, probably from the 4th century CE, and became strongly established in the north of the kingdom, Shivite Hinduism remained the established state religion.

My Son B1 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

In the 4th century, in Bhadravaman dynasty, My Son valley was chosen as the holy city - an important religious and belief center of Champa kingdom.

My Son B1 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The location of the valley is to the west of Biblical Simhapura (Tra Kieu) - the center of power, the east of Dai Chiem (Hoi An) sea estuary - Cham Island commercial center. The complex of sacred land, sacred mountain, sacred city, sacred estuary is an important complex in the formation and development of My Son as well as of Amaravati states (Quang Nam today).

My Son D1 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

My Son is the place to build temples, perform rituals and worship, the place confirm with the spirit of the reign of the Cham kings.

Statue on My Son E1 temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The towers are constructed in fired brick with stone pillars and decorated with sandstone bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. Their technological sophistication is evidence of Cham engineering skills while the elaborate iconography and symbolism of the tower-temples give insight into the content and evolution of Cham religious and political thought.

Solid brick bonding of Cham My Son temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The bricks stick together with glue, the grout is extremely small and tight yet very solid

Worship Linga inside Cham My Son temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The Yoni is worshiped inside My Son Champa temple

My Son's Cham headless statue by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

As a religious center of the ancient kingdom of Champa, My Son had an important spiritual place in the community being mental support of the ancient Cham people. My Son is a unique work of art which has been valuable up to now. Every brick, every corner of the towers definitely held distinctive historical and cultural values of the wonders created by human physical strength.

Statue on My Son temple by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Time and the wars have severely impaired the relic. Still, the remainder in My Son plays a critically important part in world historic architectural heritage.

Cham temples in My Son by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Credits: Story

Content: http://mysonsanctuary.com.vn
Photo: Tran Tuan Viet

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