A UNESCO World Heritage site in a mountain valley about 40 miles west of Da Nang, My Son is a vestige of the Champa kingdom, a culture that was heavily shaped by Hindu beliefs and practices. Built between the 4th and 14th centuries, the temples pay homage to the god Shiva, though the deity is often referred to here by different names. While some of the shrines are partially restored, and others overgrown with greenery or showing their age (many were destroyed by American bombing during the Vietnam War), the sheer scope of the ruins are proof of the reach of Hinduism and the lofty ambitions of the Cham kings.
By Sanjay Surana, AFAR Contributor
Ruins of Mỹ Sơn (UNESCO world heritage)
Mỹ Sơn is a temple complex in central Vietnam. Visiting the UNESCO world heritage site is a nice day trip from Da Nang or Hoi An (50 km). Walking through overgrown ruins takes you back to a bygone culture. The earliest temples were built in the 4th Century by the Cham in honor of the god Shiva. The architecture is influenced by Hinduism and thus richly decorated. Because of the various trees and flowers it's always worth a trip for nature lovers but it is an Eldorado for photographers and people interested in archeology. Since many temples have been destroyed by US bomb attacks during the Vietnam War you can watch archeologists reconstructing the buildings and statues. Moreover, a special mountain completes the scenery. Due to its unique shape it is called “Cat’s tooth mountain.” Coming along Lotus fields and villages on the way to Mỹ Sơn is great as well for that you can see locals drying or raking their corn and rice harvest on the streets. If you want to stop there, I would recommend going by motorbike or scooter.
My Son santuary
should come before 6am and after 6pm, you will see a beautiful scence
Meandering through the roads near My Son, Vietnam we happened upon the incense market. Colorful and fragrant, just like all of Vietnam.
Crumbling Hindu temples adorned with exquisite stone reliefs of chiseled gods and goddesses are all that remain of the once-mighty Champa Kingdom. From roughly the fourth to the fourteenth centuries, this valley about an hour and a half south of Da Nang witnessed royal burials and religious ceremonies. My Son rivals Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex in its vast splendor and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s worth lingering here until dusk approaches, and the fading crimson light gives the ruins a near-mystical beauty.
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Take the Scenic Route To My Son
The magical Cham relics at My Son are worth a visit by any way possible. However, if you have some time to spare, the best way to get there is by bike. The ruins enjoy a lush jungle setting overlooked by Hon Quap, otherwise known as Cat's Tooth Mountain, while the bike ride there extends through emerald green rice paddies and along attractive country roads.
By Duncan Forgan, AFAR Local Expert