Durga on Po Nagar Tower – Image courtesy of Petr & Bara Ruzicka/Wikimedia Commons
Introducing Po Nagar Cham Towers
Inhale the sweet smell of smoking incense as you stroll around the surviving temples in this dramatic hilltop complex, built by the Cham civilisation between the 7th and 12th century and still used today by Buddhists devotees.
The Chams, an early Hindu empire in central Vietnam, built the Po Nagar Cham temple complex to honour Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, who later came to be identified with the Hindu goddesses Bhagavati and Mahishasuramardini.
The complex was built on the site of a previous wooden temple destroyed by the Japanese in 774 AD. Of the original 10 structures, only three remain.
Stroll past pillars of carved epitaphs to Cham kings, view the original carved doors in the main sanctuary and ponder the 28m-high main tower, Po Nagar Kalan, one of the tallest Cham structures in the world.
Following the theft of statues and destruction of the original temples, the temple was rebuilt in 781 AD. With its terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted interior masonry and vestibule, Po Nagar is a superb example of Cham architecture.
The sandstone doorposts are covered with inscriptions, as are parts of the walls of the vestibule. On the pediment above the entrance to the temple stands a dancing four-armed Durga goddess with one foot on a buffalo and flanked by musicians.
Inside, sits the 1.2m-high black stone statue of the goddess Yan Po Nagar, sitting cross-legged on a lotus throne, which dates to 965 AD.
Po Ngar Cham stands on a granite rise overlooking the Cai River as it flows into the sea, just a 20 minute stroll from the main beach strip.
Location: About 2km north of Nha Trang city centre
Cost: Admission USD$0.5