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Vietnam: My Son Temples

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My Son Temples > Vietnam > Asia

[Visited: July 2002]

The Chams were a people and a culture which flourished for 13 centuries until the 15th century, after which they were absorbed by the Vietnamese. They mixed their own beliefs with those of the Indians with whom they were in touch and adopted Hinduism and Sanskrit as their religion and their sacred language. Their main legacy nowadays are the so-called Cham towers, brick structures which can be found in many places in southern Vietnam.

Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): Detail of My Son temple

As we approach the parking lot of My Son, we realise we are in a remote area of this part of Vietnam. No villages nearby, no villages anywhere in sight in the surrounding hills. After walking a little bit, a special shuttle truck takes us to the actual entrance of the site. Here, several groups of temples still stand, while others have been blown away - brick victims of the American war when guerrillas used some of the temples to hide. Bombing of the towers stopped after a French expert of Cham culture wrote a letter to president Nixon.

Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): My Son temple: detail with statue

But some of the complexes fortunately still exist, while attempts are underway to restore whatever is possible to restore of the destroyed temples. Apart from the impressive temples with their still visible sculptures and the seemingly impossibility of having brick walls still standing after resisting centuries of rain, storms, war and pillaging, the ensemble of brick towers sticking out of the jungle gave an eternal impression on me. Something more down-to-earth I appreciated was the cold river where we could cool off.

Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): B and C groups in My Son temple complex
Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): Stone carved religious symbol at My Son
Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): Ceiling of Cham tower, My Son complex
Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): D group tower, My Son complex
Picture of My Son Temples (Vietnam): Group B tower at My Son temple complex

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