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Cham towers of Po Nagar

Despite being a major trading civilization, it never weilded a great deal of power, and so never really competed with the Khmers in the south or Viets in the North. The Cham civilization had spread from Ancient India, and it is interesting to see some similarities between the design of Cham monuments and some others within India. In Nha Trang the Cham Ponagar temple complex (locally refered to as Thap Ba) is situated on a hill just outside the city, and is reached by crossing the Cai River from the main tourist stretch. At the complex there are four towers remaining from an original eight, each of which shows differences in style, indicated they were built over an extended period between the seventh and 12th centuries AD. The largest, which stands at 23m high, was built in 817 AD and contains a lingham and a statue dedicated to Ponagar, or Lady Thien Y-ana, the beautiful wife of Prince Bac Hai. It is said that Lady Thien Y-ana taught new agricultural and weaving techniques to people of the area, and in gratitude they built the tower to honour her. Other towers in the complex are dedicated to gods - the central tower is in honour of Cri Cambhu, and is thought to bless devotees with fertility, so is visited by childless couples. In the North West lies a tower dedicated to Sandhaka, a wood cutter and foster father to Ponagar, and the tower in the south was dedicated to Ganeca, the daughter of Ponagar. Entrance to the towers costs 12,000 VND and opening hours are from 6 AM - 6 PM. Late afternoon is a good time to visit.

To this day Cham, ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists come to Po Nagar to pray and make offerings, according to their respective traditions. This site has a continuing religious significance, so be sure to remove your shoes before entering.
The towers serve as the Holy See, honouring Yang Ino Po Nagar, the goddess of the Dua (Liu) clan, which ruled over the southern part of the Cham kingdom covering Kauthara and Pan Duranga (present day Khanh Hoa and Thuan Hai provinces). The original wooden structure was razed to the ground by attacking Javanese in AD 774 but was replaced by a stone-and-brick temple (the first of its kind) in 784. There are inscribed stone slabs scattered throughout the complex, most of which relate to history or religion, and provide insight into the spiritual life and social structure of the Cham. Originally the complex covered an area of 500 sq metres and there were seven or eight towers, four of which remain. All of the temples face east, as did the original entrance to the complex, which is to the right as you ascend the hillock. In centuries past, a person coming to pray passed through the pillared meditation hall, 10 pillars of which can still be seen, before proceeding up the steep staircase
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