History of My Son Sanctuary
My Son Sanctuary is a cluster of abandoned Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Kingdom of Champa. Partially ruined and recognised as a world heritage site since 1999, My Son is located in the Quang Nam Province - 70 kilometres southwest of Da Nang. It is also 30 kilometres west of Tra Kieu, the ancient capital of the Cham folk. It is about a 1 hour motorbike ride from Hoi An and the entrance fee is 150,000VND. Private tour remains the most preferred option to travel to My Son as an experienced driver can be trusted to navigate the winding roads while the beautiful scenery can be seen as a passenger. Although visited all year round, the wet season running from October-December can make it hard to navigate the ruins.
Originally created as a site for religious ceremonies for the Kings of the Dynasty of Champa, My Son Sanctuary was also a burial site for Cham royalty and other national heroes. The sanctuary is roughly 2 kilometres wide and encompassed between two breathtaking mountains. At one time, the sanctuary contained over 70 temples as well as many wooden slabs names 'steles' bearing historically important inscriptions in Cham and Sanskrit. Unfortunately, a large majority of the architecture was destroyed by a U.S. carpet bombing in the Vietnam War.
The very first temple was constructed with wood in the 4th century to worship the Saint Siva Bhadravarman. However, in the 6th century it was completely destroyed by a fire which only lead the Champa folk to build more towers and temples to worship their Gods and publicly present their great power. The structures continued to grow greater but in the 13th century the Champa Kingdsom fell under attack from neighbouring countries such as the China, Cambodia and even fellow Vietnamese. As a result, they were forced to migrate south to the Binh Thuan province. Since then, My Son was decommissioned and no more structures were built on this site.
These lands were all but forgotten until 1898, when it was explored by French scholar M.C Paris. It began reconstruction from 1937 onwards. Unfortunately, a large majority of the architecture was destroyed by a U.S. carpet bombing in the Vietnam War. There still remain many structures that preserve their beautifully unique look today, making My Son Sanctuary a popular destination each year for holiday-makers and locals alike.
French, Polish and Vietnamese researchers have concluded that My Son was influenced by Arabian, Malaysian, Indonesian and most particularly Indian tradition. All towers were originally constructed meticulously using red bricks and sandstone. There are many different beliefs among archaeologists about the process of the brick making to how the construction of these marvellous temples and towers took place. Upon visiting this hidden beauty, visitors quickly realise that the sheer intelligence of the Champa folk even hundreds of years ago.
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