The Cham World Capital

My Son (mee-son) was the religious capital of the Cham civilization. It was built from 4th century to 13th century making it over 1500 years old, and older than Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
The day trip to My Son is a great way to get a glimpse into this preserved area near Hoi An.

The Chams ruled the middle area of Vietnam. They were Hindu Indonesians from Java, and are a minority now in Vietnam, working mainly as fishermen. Due to their Hindu culture these structures served as temples, and the site featured numerous Lingas. The temples are devoted to Lord Shiva (God of Destruction) with a few statues of Lord Ganesh (Elephant God).

our animated tour guide

These ruins were first discovered by the French in 1895. It consists of over 50 Hindu structures nestled in between jungle and mountains. The heads of the Shiva statues were cut off to be preserved at The Louvre in Paris. Even after numerous years of research anthropologists are still  unable to distinguish the exact process in how these structures were created since the brick isn’t put together in the usual format.

Unfortunately the site was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War in 1969 by the US, who believed it was being used as a Vietcong base. Since the ruins are located amongst a jungle, the nearby mountains are still laced with land mines that are still being located.

My Son is absolutely stunning and the inside of a few temples store statues and presented as a museum. It’s a live site of research and quite surprising that it’s not as well known for most tourists.

sanscrit tablet

Following a few hours of exploration at My Son our day tour took us to the river for a boat cruise, followed by a stop at a traditional village where local craftsmen lived. We were able to see Vietnamese families who built boats and created most of the handicrafts that are distributed to the tourist shops.

It was a unique experience to see first hand how most of the handicrafts are created and to meet local artists. Although I despise tours this one was very informative due to our animated tour guide without whom the ruins would have been meaningless. At times a day trip can really go a long way, especially when indulging in culture is only $5 (including a homemade lunch).

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