My Son Sanctuary – Relics of Hinduism in Vietnam

My Son Sanctuary Relics

My Son Sanctuary is one of the must visit places in Vietnam for the Travelers who are  interested in History, Mythology, and drawing parallels between different religions. The sanctuary is a cluster of partially ruined temple relics depicting the influence of Hinduism on Cham people and the craftsmanship of Champa Kingdom.

Read more… 13 Stunning destinations of Vietnam

What you have taken, has been from here
What you gave, has been given here
What belongs to you today
belonged to someone yesterday
and will be someone else’s tomorrow
Change is the Law of The Universe

–Bhagavad Gita

Mythology of Mount Meru

As per Hindu scriptures, Mount Meru is considered as the center of Universe. It is the abode of 3 Supreme Gods – Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Preserver), and Shiva (Destroyer of Evil and The Transformer). It is also the abode of Devas (Hindu Gods and Demi-Gods).

Hindu Mythology - An illustration of Mount Meru
Hindu Mythology – An illustration of Mount Meru

The sacred mountain is believed to have 7 Higher Lokas (Planes/Worlds) and each of these Lokas are guarded by Supreme Gods.

  • 7th Plane of Existence – Bhooloka – Human Beings Reside with other beings.
  • 6th Plane of Existence – Bhuvarloka – The Realm of the Sun and the planets.
  • 5th Plane of Existence – Suvarloka – Heavenly abode of Lord Indra.
  • 4th Plane of Existence – Maharloka – Abode of Great Sages and Rishis who have attained a greater feat through years of meditation.
  • 3rd Plane of Existence – Janoloka – This is where the souls of unhindered access to material world live.
  • 2nd Plane of Existence – Tapoloka – This world is inhabited by immortal knowledgeable beings.
  • 1st Plane of Existence – Satyaloka – This is where Brahma – Supreme consciousness exists.

Mount Meru is guarded in the 4 natural directions (East, West, North and South) by 4 celestial guardians (Dikpalakas) who defend the world by keeping away the Asuras (Demon/Fallen Gods).

My Son Sanctuary – A Parallel of Mount Meru

The Panoramic View of My Son Sanctuary Main Site
The Panoramic View of My Son Sanctuary Main Site

Between the 4th and 13th centuries a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Vietnam. This is illustrated by the series of impressive tower-temples located in the sanctuary of My Son. It was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence.

Map of My Son Sanctuary
Map of My Son Sanctuary

Earliest Temples dating back to 4th Century

Group E and F are dated to the earliest time in My Son dating back to 4th Century. Most of the temples are in total ruins  and an effort to restore the partially ruined temples in all temple groups of My Son is undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

My Son Sanctuary - A destroyed temple
My Son Sanctuary – A destroyed temple
My Son Sanctuary - Team from Archaeological Survey of India
Team from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) heading the restoration efforts

Depiction of Directional Gods

Group A is the only complex having the temple with two main doors opened to the East and the West. It is surrounded by small temples worshiping Directional Gods.

My Son Sanctuary - Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva worshiped in Linga Form
My Son Sanctuary – Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva worshiped in Linga Form
My Son Sanctuary - Only Temple with open doors to the East and the West
My Son Sanctuary – Only Temple Relic with open doors to the East and the West
My Son Sanctuary - Half Restored and Half Original Temple Relic
My Son Sanctuary – Half Restored and Half Original Temple Relic

The Main Sanctuary – Symbolization of Mount Meru

Group B-C-D temples are the center for worshiping in My Son. Main temples (B1, C1) reflect the two beliefs in the Lord Shiva: Shiva Linga and Shiva Statue. The Complex of B-C-D temples reflects the view on the universe and worshiping atmosphere of Champa Kingdom.

My Son Sanctuary - Standing temple at Main Site
My Son Sanctuary – Standing temple at Main Site

The Central Tower Temple, symbolizes the sacred Meru Mountain and is decorated with sandstone depicting scenes from Hindu Mythology. The square base of the temple is the depiction of human world. It is constructed with fired bricks, stones, and decorated with carvings. The main tower is the symbolization of Bhuvarloka, which rises above and is constructed using pillared structure. The center of the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The roof of the temple represent the higher worlds and is framed with a fine decoration. A stone carving depicting the birth of Lord Brahma was found in the sanctuary.

My Son Sanctuary - Central Tower Temples
My Son Sanctuary – Central Tower Temples

Location and Entrance Fees

My Son Sanctuary is located at a distance of approximately 40 km from the city of Da Nang. Renting a motorbike bike is the best way to reach My Son as the road traverses through a scenic landscape and countryside of Vietnam.

Entrance Fee is 150.000 VND  (USD 6.5). If you want, you can exclusively ask for a ticket printed with your photograph and it can become your souvenir from My Son.

Entrance Ticket: 150.000 VND – Ask for Ticket with Photo (Same Price)

Food, Water, and Location of Relics

At the entrance there is a small restaurant that serves descent bowl of noodles ($3) and an aromatic Vietnamese coffee ($1).

To reach the archaeological site of My Son, one can walk for about 2 km from the ticket counter or hop on to free electric cars which will drop you 500m away from the relics.

My Son Sanctuary - food
Vegetable Noodle Soup and Vietnamese Hot Coffee
My Son Sanctuary - Electric Car
My Son Sanctuary – Free Electric Car Service

A Wonderful Surprise – Folk Musical Performance and Apsara Dance

There are 3 shows scheduled everyday (ask for timings in the ticket counter) and the cost is included in the ticket.

The show starts with a 15 minute traditional Khmer Folk Musical performance using the ancient instruments – Chhing (Cymbals), Khloy (Bamboo Flute), Roneat Aek (Bamboo/Wooden xylophone), Tror Ou (Low-pitched two-stringed fiddle) and others. The musical pieces are brilliantly composed.

Apsara dance is a traditional dance of the Khmer Kingdom that dates back to the 7th century. The Apsaras are played by women, whose graceful and fine gestures systematically narrate the classical myths and religious stories.

My Son Sanctuary - An artist playing the traditional Khmer Bamboo Flute
An artist playing the traditional Khmer Bamboo Flute
My Son Sanctuary - Dancers performing the Khmer Classical Apsara Dance
Dancers performing the Khmer Classical Apsara Dance

The motorbike ride of 40 km across the countryside, souvenir entry ticket, temple ruins of historical interest, Khmer folk performance and Apsara Dance made our visit to My Son Sanctuary an extremely joyous one.

Read more… A comprehensive guide for backpacking across Vietnam

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