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Site Description

My Son is situated in Quang Nam Province about 60 kilometers from Danang in Vietnam. The group of monumental complexes is scattered over an area of about 10 hectares lying some 40 metres above sea level and surrounded by hills rising to a height of 100-300 metres, dominated by the 675 metre high massif of Hon Quap (Cat’s Tooth).

Between the 4th and 13th centuries, a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence. This place is My Son.

The Cham kingdom, established in about 192 A.D. in the Hué region and which then spread northward as far as the “Gate of Annam”, and southward as far as the Mekong delta area, was subdivided into five regions. One of these regions, Amaravati, corresponding to the present-day Quang Nam, is rich in ancient monuments and to some extend may be considered the holy land of the Cham.
South of this province, known as Amaravati in ancient times, there still survive the impressive remains of the holy city built over the centuries around the sanctuary of Bhadresvara (Shiva), which was founded in the 4th century.

These are the ruins of My Son, situated in the centre of a mountain chain and accessible only through a narrow gorge. At present, some seventy brick buildings are still visible, constructed by the Cham kings to commemorate the great events of their reigns and to perpetuate the memory of the kings.

My Son became a religious centre during the reign of Bhadravarman, towards the end of the 4th century A.D. Building continued until the 13th century, giving rise to the longest religious occupation in South East Asia, when compared to Angkor and Pagan (Cambodia) which flourished for three centuries.

My Son, the main intellectual and religious centre of Cham civilization, was the place where kings were cremated and towers built to commemorate their great deeds of conquests. The majority of the temples were dedicated to the Cham Kings who, after their death, were associated with divinities of the Hindu pantheon, expecially Shiva, who was considered the founder of the Champa Dynasty.

Cham architecture is characterized by high shrine towers, with a door facing the east and false doors on the other sides. The doorways have carved sandstone, similar to the Khmer constructions. The tower is crowned with four storeys of decreasing size. The shrine tower, generally referred to by its Cham name ‘kalan’, is decorated with double pillars and blind arches in relief in its lower parts. 

When forced to withdraw towards the south of the country in the face of the incessant raids by the Vietnamese and Javanese, and exhausted by the wars against the Khmers, the Cham entrusted to a number of mountain tribes jewellery and precious metal objects which became known as the treasure hoard of the Cham kings and which these tribes still faithfully guard today.