Fah Thai Magazine Nov-Dec 2018

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belonging to the

Cham civilisation,

the likes of brick

flooring, their

sandstone pillars,

and pottery pieces,

go as far back as

the second

century A.D.


Red-brick temples

give Cham towers

their distinction.

The entrance hallway that leads

to the central sanctuary is called

the mandapa, while a separate

building with a saddle-shaped

roof, the kosagrha, is used for

storing objects relating to the

deity. Finally, the gopura is an

arched gateway that leads into

the temple complex.

For anyone intrigued by Cham

culture, a visit to the UNESCO

World Heritage Site of My Son

(pronounced ‘mee sern’) is a

must. American bombs destroyed

much of this temple city during

the 1960s, but restoration work

has been going on steadily and

the site, surrounded as it is by

lush green hills, exudes an eerie

spirituality. Though comparisons

with Angkor are inappropriate as

the scale here is much smaller,

the silent evidence of a highly

developed ancient culture is

similarly awe-inspiring.

An informative museum at

the entrance to the complex

helps visitors to identify different

aspects of temple architecture, as

well as strange mythical creatures

such as the gajasimha, a combination

of lion and elephant, and the

hamsa, a mythical bird. Despite

its remote feel, My Son is just a

short ride from either Hoi An or

Da Nang, so it’s easy to get to,

but since a visit entails a lot of

walking, it’s better to go there

either early or late in the day to

avoid the midday sun.

Besides being innovative and

accomplished temple builders, the

Chams are also excellent sculptors

in stone, and this is clear to see

at the Da Nang Museum of Cham

Culture, which makes an ideal first

or last stop on a tour to learn about

the Chams. Most of the exhibits are

huge slabs of sandstone that were

meticulously crafted centuries ago,

and were later removed from the

Cham temples they adorned for

safekeeping. Delightful depictions of

Hindu gods and mythical creatures

reflect a vibrant culture that achieved

great artistic heights in its heyday.

Even today, though more subdued,

Cham culture is alive and well, and

thoroughly charming.


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