The twelfth century ruins of My Son

When we were planning our time in Vietnam, we knew that we wanted to see a lot of the history, as well as a lot of the natural beauty of the country. And when we realised that My Son – an area of ancient temples from long ago – was near Hoi An, it was a no brainer that we would go and see it. In high school, ancient history was one of my absolute favourite subjects, so I was so incredibly excited to get to see this place – Josh was, too. We rode 45km from Hoi An, an Ancient Town Cultural Heritage site, to this step back in time, and we were honestly blown away.

My Son is a World Cultural Heritage site in Vietnam. Here, there are over 70 architectural temples and structures of the Champa civilisation. These structures were brought up from the 4th to the 13th century, and were built in sequelae, a durable material that ultimately has allowed for the preservation of these incredible buildings and structures. 900 years in the making, My Son is considered to be on par with other Southeast Asian monuments like Angko and Pagan (to name a few others).

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Under the Bhadravaman dynasty, My Son valley was elected as the holy capital (this was the important belief and religious centre of the Champa kingdom). 2km in diametre, and surrounded by towering mountains – including the sacred mountain Mahaparvata (or, “God Siva) to its south – the stream is a remnant from the scared mountain flowing north to Thu Bon River. Its special place among scared mountains and wondrous rivers meant that My Son became the single most important religious place in the ancient Cham dynasties.

Hailed as the location to built temples to worship from, My Son was a place of worship, faith, spiritual connection, and safety. But when the 11th century came to pass, it brought with it war and devastation, and enemies stormed the sacred area of My Son, destroying Champa kingdom and the temples of My Son. As ancient epitaphs record, “the energy invaded and rule the country…”. In the years after the wars, various kings sought and succeeded in rebuilding some of the structures to their former glory, but the entire area was never simultaneously rebuilt.

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Over time, and throughout the war, many of the artefacts and pristine structures were heavily impacted, with many being lost forever. What remains today of My Son is an incredible piece of both artistic and cultural heritage here in Vietnam. There is something quite special about seeing it all and getting to step foot in this spiritual place that holds such a unique place in Vietnam’s history and its heart. Today, this is a place where the unique and beautiful Champa art has been somewhat preserved (that which remained after the wars, that is). The collection of relics kept within some of the structures were incredible to see, and I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it.

Built by kings, My Son is a wonder to behold. After our long weekend trip to Hoi An, ending it by visiting such a remarkable place was honestly a highlight. Riding the 68km stretch back to Da Nang, we were buzzing off the experience of being able to literally touch and walk through such a special place in this phenomenal country’s long history.

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