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Appreciate Vietnamese Champa Architecture at Po Nagar Temple and Discover its Purpose

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Po Nagar Temple is a group of Cham structures built between the 8th and 13th centuries near the beach resort town of Nha Trang in Vietnam.  It was dedicated to a local goddess named Yan Po Nagar, a revered goddess who through myths and legends was credited as the teacher of agricultural and weaving techniques to people of the area.  Since the Champa were Hindu, the images depicting Yan Po Nagar took the form of Parvati, Shiva’s wife.  The temple complex itself is located on a small forested hill overlooking the Cai River, so photo opportunities are abundant even upon entering.  Despite its Hindu origins, the temple is now used by Vietnamese Buddhists.  Many pay a visit to the temple and end the day at the beaches of Nha Trang, a highly recommended itinerary!

The temple was at first built out of wood but were destroyed and its treasure looted by seagoing raiders from Java in the late 8th century.  About ten years later, the temple was rebuilt, this time with brick.  Some of the towers that are still standing today were later added during the 10th century.  Po Nagar may have as many as six towers in two rows of three.  Only four towers remain today.

Each of the towers was dedicated to a different deity.  The central tower was built in honor of Cri Cambhu, the god of fertility.  The northwest tower was built for Sandhaka, a foster father of Yan Po Nagar while the south tower was dedicated to Ganeca, Yan Po Nagar’s child.  The main tower, standing over 22 meters high, is of course for Yan Po Nagar.

One of the most striking images at Po Nagar is a 1.2 meter stone statue of the revered goddess sitting cross-legged on a lotus blossom and dressed in only a skirt, with ten hands displaying gestures and holding various symbolic objects.  The goddess was represented by the demon fighting Hindu deity Durga.  Another depiction of the goddess can be seen on the triangular pediment above the entrance to the tallest tower.  She is depicted as a four arm goddess standing on a buffalo, in reference to Durga’s past slaying of a buffalo-demon.

Visiting Po Nagar Towers presents an interesting experience.  Not only will you gain insight into the Champa Kingdom (who controlled most of Central and Southern Vietnam in the 8th century to the 19th century) but also on the role Hinduism played in Vietnamese history and the correlation between the religion and Buddhism.  You will also gain insight into the revered Yan Po Nagar and witness a good example of Cham architecture.

Exotissimo’s Absolute Vietnam tour is a comprehensive program that takes you to all the sites that makes Vietnam a very special country while staying in the finest accommodations.  A relaxing time at Nha Trang and a visit to Po Nagar is included in this program.  Exotissimo also provides tours to many other countries in Southeast Asia, so visit the homepage for other memorable holiday trips or contact us for questions or enquiries on how to tweak any of our tours.

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