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My Son

MY SON

One of the most stunning sight to see in the Hoi AN area is My Son (admission 50,000d, open 6.30am-4.30pm daily), Vietnam’s most important site of the ancient kingdom of Champa, and as of 2000, a Unesco World Heritage site.

During the centuries when Tra Kieu (the known as Simhapura) served as the politicala capital of the kingdom of Champa, My Son was the site of the most important Cham intellectual and religious centre, and also may have served as a burial place for Cham monarch. My SOn in considered to be Champa’s smaller counterpart to be grand cities of Southeast. Asia’s other Indian influenced civilisation: Angkor (cambodia); Bagan (Myanmar); Ayuthaya (Thailand) and Borobudur (Java).

The monuments are set in verdant vallay surrounded by hills and overlooked by the massive Cat’s Tooth Mountain (Hon Quap), Clear streams run between the structures and past nearby coffe plantations.

History

My Son became a religious centre under King Bhadravarman in the late 4th century and was occupied until th 13th century – the longest period of development of any nonument in Southeast Asia (by comparison, Angkor’s period of development lasted only three centuries, as did that of Bagan). Most of the temples were dedicated to Cham kings associated with divinities, especially Shiva, who was regarded as founder and protector of Champa’s dynasties.

Champa’s contact with Java was extentsive. Cham scholar were sent to Java to study and there was a great deal of commerce between the two empires – Cham pottery has been found on Java and, in the 12th century, the Cham king wed a Javanese woman.

Because some of the ornamentation work at My Son was never finished, archaeologists know that the Chams first built their structures and only then carved decorations into the brickwork. Researchers have yet to figure out for certain how the Chams managed to get the baked bricks to stick together. According to one theory, they used a paste prepared with a botanical oil that is indigenous to central Vietnam. During one period in their history, the summits of someof the towers were completely covered with layer of gold.

During the American War, this region was completely devastated and depopulated in extended bitter fighting. Figding it to be a covenient staging ground, the VC used My Son as a base; in respone the Americans bombed the monuments. Traces of 68 structures have been found, of which 25 surviced repeated pillaging in previous centuries by Chinese, Khmer and Vietnamese. The American bombings spared about 20 of these, some of which sustained extansive damage. These days, Vietnamese authorities are attempting to restore as much as possible of the remaining sites

Information

The entry fee includes local transport from the parking area to the sites, about 2km away. By departing from Hoi An at about 5am, you will arrive to wake up the gods (and the guards) for the sunrise and could be leaving just as the tour groups reach the area! It gets very busy at My Son; if you can go early or late do so, and soak up the scenery and atmospherein relative peace and quite.

Places to Stay

The nearest hotels are in Hoi An and Danang.

Getting there & Away

Minibus Numerous hotels in Hoi An can book a day trip to My Son that includes a stop-off at Tra Kieu. At US$2 to US$3 per person, you could hardly do it cheaper unless you walked. The minibus depart from Hoi An at 8am and return at 2pm. Some agencies offer the option of returning to Hoi An by boat.

Car A hire a car with driver will get you to My Son for around US$20. Going under your own steam gives you the option of arriving before or after the tour groups, and My Son is quite spectacular and atsmospheric when you’re one of only a few people there.

Motorbike It’s possible to get to the sites by rented motorbike. We have had numerous compaints from travellers that their rented motorbike were vandalised by the local at My Son, who then asked about US$25 to repairthe damage they caused. The police are supposed to have cracked down on this, but we suggest caution nonetheless. It may be betterto get somebody else to drive you on their motorbike and then ask them to wait for you.

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