1700-year-old Indian-inspired My Son temples have had
a rough history, but thanks to recent conservation work,
the site is an increasingly popular tourist stop.
a lush green valley in central Vietnam under the imposing
glare of Catís Tooth Mountain rests one of the most important
archaeological ites of the ancient kingdom of Champa,Ē wrote
American Matthew MacDermott in the Epoch Times last May.
He was describing
the ancient My Son Cham temple complex, which was recognized
by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999.
of Champa covered what is now central Vietnam between the
4th and 12th centuries.
The Cham people
built several religious monuments like My Son, stretching
from Da Nang to Phan Rang, many of which can still be seen
70 km southwest of Da Nang and 45 km west of Hoi An, the My
Son temples originally consisted of over 70 religious structures.
many brick builders, the Cham used no mortar, simply packing
their brick as tightly as possible, a technique that has proved
durable after centuries of wear.
temples provide a rare glimpse into the cultural influence
Hinduism has had on Southeast Asia.
was an Indian-influenced civilization, the walls of the My
Son sanctuary depict Hindu deities, priests and dances.
Henri Parmentier discovered the complex in 1898 and classified
the temple towers into various groups.
is characterized by a gate tower, a main tower symbolizing
heaven, a long tower shaped like a house providing lodging
for pilgrims, a tower to store materials for worship and smaller
towers in honor of the gods and the stars.
Under a cultural
cooperation project between Vietnam and Poland in the 1980s,
late Polish architect Kazimierz Kwiatkowski (1944-1997) came
to My Son in an effort to restore the ruins.
He now has
a plaque dedicated to him at the sanctuary site and the town
of Hoi An even built a statue of him.
UNESCO recognition of My Son in 1999, the organization began
sponsoring large-scale research and restoration projects at
projects between Japanese Toyota Foundation, Italian Lerici
Foundation, Milan University and Vietnam's Ministry of Culture
and Information (now the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)
have also helped conserve My Son.
consultant and Milan University professor Patrizia Zolesse
brings students to help with My Son restoration projects every
will return next February to continue their work with US$435,000
provided by UNESCO and the Italian government.
My Son now
receives over 200,000 foreign tourists annually, mostly from
East Asia, Europe and the US
My Son may
not be one of the countryís most well-known attractions, but
it can be one of its most atmospheric, dramatic and rewarding.
Truong Dien Thang Thanh
Nien News 29 Oct 2007