My Son Sanctuary-World Heritage Site in Central Vietnam

My Son Sanctuary, an ancient Unesco World Heritage Site is located in the central part of Vietnam and amongst the mountains in a geological basin of the Quang Nam province about 70km southwest of Danang City and 40km from Hoi An City

In the fourth century, King Bhadravaman had the first temple constructed for sacrificial rites and memorial services. This temple was made of wood and dedicated to Shiva’s Linga, the oldest known linga in Southeast Asia. Between the seventh and eighth centuries, successive kings built religious structures in My Son, devoting the valley to their gods. Tower temples were erected in memory of victories and great conquests. Kings’ tombs were built here so that their souls could join Hindu deities in eternity, especially Shiva the Almighty, who was regarded as the founder of the Champa Kingdom.

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My Son features outstanding temple towers representative of Champa architectural arts

After centuries of construction and rituals, My Son emerged as an extremely important religious hub of the Champa Kingdom. It features outstanding temple towers representative of Champa architectural arts and boasts historical, cultural and artistic value.

In 1895, My Son was rediscovered by the French after five centuries of being forgotten. French scientists found 70 temples and spent four years doing research, which laid the foundation for the site’s eventual restoration and maintenance. In 1904, French scientists completed initial surveys to undertake the restoration of the temple groups A and A In the same year, the Far East Archeological Institute released images of My Son to the world. This triggered scientific curiosity worldwide.

Unfortunately, B52 bombing raids in October 1969 and 1972 devastated My Son and its surroundings. Bombardments left the site in ruins. Most of the 20-odd remnants were gathered in groups B, C and D.

After the war, various cooperative projects aimed to maintain and restore My Son, including a big Vietnam-Poland project to restore groups B, C and D. Mr. Kazimiers Kwiatkowski, a talented architect who devoted his passion to heritage and spent 13 years seeking ways to restore My Son, once said: “The ancient Champa people entrusted their soul to rocks, and managed to rely on nature to erect a glorious, magnificent and divine My Son. It’s an invaluable treasure of architecture and sculpture of humanity that will take a great deal of time to thoroughly grasp.”

My Son is on par with other wonders in the region and the world thanks. Its globally significant and unique values resulted in its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Scientists and art researchers agree that My Son is like a slow-motion film showing a glorious past civilisation with unrivalled art and architecture. Until now, scientists remain unsure as to how Champa bricks were joined without using plaster. Theories abound, including the assumption that these ancient people used some organic substance to hold the bricks together.

Most relief swathes in My Son’s temples were exquisitely and meticulously chiseled with reliefs of deities, priests, animals, plants and images of nature. Nature, the universe and humans were shown in harmonious contact. Visitors are surprised to learn that golden proportions of math and physics apply to every single wall and corner, which in turn gave the architecture a flexible, symmetrical, yet not rigid structure. My Son arts reveal phases of development of Champa’s arts, and serve as physical examples of the creative and serious hard work of our ancestors.

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Lying 10km east of My Son is the former site of Simphapura (now Tra Kieu), which translates as “the City of Lions”. This was the political, economic, cultural and power capital of the Champa Kingdom. From this capital, pilgrimages were made to My Son. Researchers are still unsure whether ancient people reached the valley by road or by water. Every pilgrimage was meant to demonstrate faith in overcoming hardships and dangers.

Today, My Son reveals the significant values of Champa culture. My Son and its majestic surroundings of valley, mountains and streams deserve to be remembered and admired.

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