My Son Holy Land a Masterpiece of Cham Architecture

My Son Sanctuary once served as the capital of the Champa Kingdom from the 4th to the 5th century. Representing the pinnacle of Cham architectural achievement, the My Son Sanctuary is a vast complex of religious monuments, originally comprising over 70 architectural structures, of which 25 remnants remain to this day.

The builders of My Son were the nobility of the Champa Kingdom, heavily influenced culturally and spiritually by India.

Location: Quang Nam Province, 69 km southwest of Da Nang city
Opening hours: 6 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee: 150,000 VND for foreign tourists; 100,000 VND for Vietnamese tourists.

I. History of My Son Sanctuary

 My Son Sanctuary History
My Son Sanctuary History

If you’re enjoying a tour of My Son Sanctuary, it’s essential to delve into the historical narrative shared by guides. The Cham people are an ethnic group in Southeast Asia, and their story is intertwined with the rich history of the region.

Originating from the Cham Pa Kingdom (7th to 15th centuries), the Cham people have deep cultural roots and are closely related to the Malay race. They played a significant role in shaping the religious and political landscape of Southeast Asia.

From the 4th to the 15th centuries, a unique culture flourished along the coast of present-day Vietnam, influenced by Indian Hinduism. This cultural fusion is vividly depicted in the impressive tower-temples of My Son Sanctuary, which served as the religious and political capital of the Cham Pa Kingdom for most of its existence.

Exploring My Son Sanctuary offers a glimpse into this fascinating chapter of history, where the architectural marvels stand as a testament to the Cham people’s spiritual and cultural heritage. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the legacy of a civilization shaped by diverse influences and rich traditions.

My-Son-Holy-Land-Overview
My-Son-Holy-Land-Overview

According to records on stone steles, the ancient My Son architectural complex had its primary foundation in a wooden temple dedicated to the worship of the Siva Bhadreshwara deity. However, in the late 16th century, a significant fire ravaged the temple, leading to its destruction. Over time, historians and archaeologists have meticulously unraveled the historical mysteries surrounding My Son.

Through the study of stone steles and royal dynasties, researchers have provided compelling evidence to establish My Son as the most crucial sanctuary of the Cham people during the specified centuries. These findings shed light on the distinctive architectural style and rich historical significance of My Son, offering valuable insights into the cultural heritage of the Cham civilization.

II. Cultural Values of My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary, honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, enthralls visitors with its diverse cultural values.

1. Religion

Cultural Values of My Son Sanctuary
Cultural Values of My Son Sanctuary

The religious significance of My Son Sanctuary is indeed a source of curiosity for many. This archaeological site holds a remarkable distinction—it is the longest continuously occupied religious site not only within the Cham Kingdom but also across Southeast Asia as a whole.

Nestled within a 2-kilometer wide valley in Quang Nam province, the temple complex of My Son Sanctuary served as the focal point for prayer and worship during the Cham Pa reigns. It was a sacred space where rulers communicated with deities and saints, making it a vital religious and cultural center for the Cham Pa dynasty.

Occupied from the 4th to the 15th century AD, My Son Sanctuary boasts a longer period of continuous habitation than any other Indian-influenced site in the region. This includes renowned sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobudur in Indonesia, Pagan in Myanmar, or Ayutthaya in Thailand. Such longevity underscores the enduring spiritual significance and cultural legacy of My Son Sanctuary within Southeast Asia.

2. Cham-style Architecture

Cham-style Architecture
Cham-style Architecture

Indeed, another captivating aspect of My Son Sanctuary, beyond its religious significance, lies in its distinctive Cham-style architecture, heavily influenced by Indian design principles. Each historical era showcases unique characteristics, resulting in temples dedicated to different deities or rulers exhibiting their own architectural style and allure.

All Cham towers at My Son are built upon a square base, featuring three distinct sections: a solid base representing the earthly realm inhabited by humans, a mystical and sacred body symbolizing the divine realm, and a pinnacle adorned with human figures offering symbolic offerings such as flowers, fruits, or depictions of animals. These motifs hold deep spiritual and cultural significance, bridging the gap between the spiritual and human worlds.

Scholars and researchers have observed that the architectural craftsmanship of My Son Sanctuary reflects a fusion of various styles. These include influences inherited from the 7th to 8th centuries, the Hoa Lai style prevalent from the 8th to 9th centuries, the Dong Duong style emerging in the mid-9th century, as well as distinctive styles such as My Son and My Son-Binh Dinh styles. This blending of architectural styles contributes to the diverse and culturally significant architectural landscape found at My Son Sanctuary, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich heritage of the Cham civilization.

Cham-style Architecture
Cham-style Architecture

Among the remnants of numerous excavated architectural relics dating back to 1898, AI archaeologists researching My Son made a significant discovery: a 24-meter-high tower in the Tower Temple area. This tower stands as a masterpiece of ancient Cham architecture.

The tower features two doors, one on the east and one on the west, and its body is tall and delicate, adorned with a system of stone pillars. Surrounding the main tower are six auxiliary towers.

Resembling a lotus flower, this two-story tower is an architectural marvel. The upper layer, crafted from blue stone, is intricately carved with images of elephants and lions. On the lower tier, the walls bear carvings depicting fairies, aquatic creatures, and men riding elephants. Tragically, the tower fell victim to bombing by the United States in 1969.

The conservation area of My Son Sanctuary encompasses over 70 architectural structures, including temples and towers connected by complex designs made of red bricks. The tower holds a central position in Cham architectural design, symbolizing the divine nature of the kings. Brick serves as the primary material for constructing Cham Towers.

However, despite extensive research, a definitive explanation for the bonding materials, brick firing methods, and construction techniques employed by the Cham Pa people remains elusive. This unresolved mystery continues to intrigue contemporary scholars and enthusiasts.

Although only a few remnants remain, these relics offer glimpses into the rich cultural values of the Cham people. They serve as vivid evidence affirming the history of a community with a deep cultural heritage within the Vietnamese cultural landscape.

III. How to Get There?

How to Get There?
How to Get There?

1. Taxi: Taxi is the fastest but most expensive option. Prices range from 700,000 VND to 800,000 VND one way. This may not be suitable for those on a tight budget.

2. Bus: Buses are the cheapest option but may have long wait times. Bus number 06 from Da Nang Central Bus Station goes straight to My Son. Prices range from 8,000 VND to 30,000 VND.

3. Motorbike: Ideal for those who enjoy exploring Vietnam’s roads. There are two routes to My Son: one starting from National Highway 1 and the other from Hoa Cam Bridge. Each offers a scenic journey through towns and intersections.

For a hassle-free experience, consider booking a tour from Da Nang to My Son. Here are some recommended tour companies:

– Tuấn Nguyễn Travel**
– Contact: (+84) 972 595 693
– Price: 733,000 VND

– Green Da Nang**
– Contact: (+84) 974 818 106
– Price: 680,000 VND

– VietSense Travel
– Contact: (+84) 949 148 228
– Price: 750,000 VND

These tours offer convenience and guided experiences, allowing you to make the most of your trip to My Son from Da Nang.

IV. What to Eat Near My Son?

Tips on Visiting My Son Holy Land
Tips on Visiting My Son Holy Land

In addition to admiring the architectural beauty of My Son Sanctuary, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of delicious dishes in the surrounding area. Here are some culinary delights you can savor:

  1. Cao Lầu: A specialty of Hoi An, Cao Lầu is a flavorful noodle dish made with thick rice noodles, slices of pork, fresh herbs, and crispy croutons, served in a savory broth.
  2. Mi Quang: Another popular dish in Central Vietnam, Mi Quang features turmeric-infused noodles topped with shrimp, pork, fresh herbs, peanuts, and crispy rice crackers, served with a small amount of broth.
  3. Banh Xeo: A crispy Vietnamese pancake filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and herbs, Banh Xeo is typically served with fresh lettuce leaves and a dipping sauce.
  4. Banh Mi: A Vietnamese sandwich with a French influence, Banh Mi consists of a crispy baguette filled with various savory ingredients such as grilled meats, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.
  5. Com Ga Hoi An: Hoi An-style chicken rice is a fragrant dish made with tender poached chicken served atop seasoned rice, accompanied by a side of broth, herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce.
  6. Banh Beo: These steamed rice cakes topped with shrimp, pork cracklings, and scallion oil are a delightful snack or appetizer, often enjoyed with a savory dipping sauce.
  7. Hoanh Thanh: These wontons are filled with seasoned ground pork and shrimp, served in a clear broth with noodles and fresh herbs.

Exploring the culinary delights of the region adds another layer to your visit to My Son Sanctuary, allowing you to experience the rich flavors of Vietnamese cuisine while immersing yourself in its cultural heritage.

V. Recommended way to visit attractions near My Son:

When organizing your sightseeing trip, don’t miss out on countless breathtaking destinations beyond My Son Sanctuary. Consider exploring enticing attractions such as:

  1. Hoi An Ancient Town: Immerse yourself in the charm of this UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its well-preserved architecture, lantern-lit streets, and vibrant atmosphere.
  2. Da Nang City: Explore the dynamic cityscape of Da Nang, home to iconic landmarks like the Dragon Bridge, Marble Mountains, and the pristine beaches of My Khe and Non Nuoc.
  3. Ba Na Hills: Ascend to the scenic mountain resort of Ba Na Hills, where you can enjoy panoramic views, visit the Golden Bridge, and explore the French village-themed amusement park.
  4. Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham): Embark on a boat trip to the Cham Islands, a pristine archipelago offering opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and relaxation on secluded beaches.
  5. Son Tra Peninsula: Discover the natural beauty of Son Tra Peninsula, home to the majestic Linh Ung Pagoda, dense forests, and stunning coastal vistas.
  6. Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son): Marvel at the towering limestone formations of the Marble Mountains, explore ancient caves, pagodas, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  7. My Khe Beach: Relax and unwind on the golden sands of My Khe Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine coastline, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

To optimize your Vietnam getaway, meticulous planning and early bookings are crucial. Among the numerous tour operators, Discover Vietnam Tours excels in providing seamless coordination through email and WhatsApp. They oversee every aspect of your trip, from airport transfers to accommodation, knowledgeable guides, chauffeurs, and personalized activities.

With their expertise, they can tailor your itinerary to align with your schedule and preferences, guaranteeing a smooth journey across Vietnam. Let Discover Vietnam Tours elevate your travel experience, creating unforgettable memories in this enchanting country.