Adventure is a spirit that everyone holds, or had at some point in life. Many people yearn to travel around and experience the wonders that the external world can offer. There are various places you can visit depending on the kind of thrill they might desire to experience.
When my wife and I decided to visit Vietnam, we didn’t know we would discover something really special. Most of travellers to Southeast Asia in search of ancient ruins usually head to Siem Reap, the home of world-famous temple complex Angkor Wat. Despite the majesty of this incredible site is hard to match, Vietnam holds its own secrets along its stretching coastline and within its lush forests.
One of the treasures hidden in green jungles is My Son Sanctuary, a collection of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples. Since the ruins are said to have been built way before the 13th century AD, we opted to visit it and learn a little bit of history about the Cham people who are believed to be the occupants of the now abandoned temples.
The temples are located in the My Son valley near Duy Phu village in the administrative district of Duy Xuyen and were discovered in the late 1890s by French Archaeologists. At approximately 10 kilometers from this village is Tra Kieu – formerly called Simhapura (Lion Citadel), the first capital of Champa from the 4th century to the 8th century.
The My Son valley, nearly two kilometers wide, was initially used by the kings of Champa for religious ceremonies and as a burial place for the royal and heroes.
These beautiful temples were constructed in dedication to the Hindu god Shiva, known locally as Bhadresvara. The construction method of My Son is also very unique, Cham people built a whole block of bricks then burned them to make the whole brick block very solid and strong then chiseled into the temple.
The site has been (generally) well preserved and you can get a really good sense of the ancient city that used to be here. My Son means “beautiful mountain” in Vietnamese, well, the Cat’s Tooth Mountain in the vicinity and the forested setting for the ruins gives the site a mystical appeal.
Travel Tips: Visit the site in the afternoon, when all tours are gone, which is around 2pm. Your other option is to visit My Son early in the morning, right after they open the gate, but keep in mind that there are more and more tourists coming from Hoi An for sunrise guided tours.
Although it is regarded as one of the archeological sites that were inhabited for the longest time within the Indochina region, part of the My Son temple has been destroyed mainly by the US carpet bombing during the Vietnam War. In fact, a huge crater lies next to the entrance as a result of the bombing.
Travel Tips: The ruins are grouped into the rather unimaginatively named A’, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and L categories. There is a well marked route from beginning to end at the My Son Sanctuary and with good reason: it’s important to stay on the marked paths as the signs indicate the potential presence of landmines outside of this area.
By visiting My Son, you can have chance to admire attractive Apsara dance – a Khmer classical dance. It is very interesting experience when watching amazing Apsara dancers performing in fanciful and mysterious beauty of My Son ruins, under the stunning glow of sunset.
In Vietnam, My Son sanctuary is regarded as the first Hindu Temple complexes throughout entire Southeast Asia.