When coming to Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province, visitors cannot ignore Po Nagar Cham Towers which was built from the 8th to 13th centuries.
Po Nagar Cham Towers, Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa is one of the most significant architectural complexes belonging to Cham Pa culture with the most massive scale remaining in the Central Region. It was built from about the 8th to the 13th century, the time that Hinduism was flourishing in the ancient kingdom of Cham.
Ponagar Towers is a temple situated on the top of a small hill about 50 meters above sea level. At the mouth of Cai river, about 2 km north of Nha Trang city center.
The overall architecture of Ponagar consists of 3 floors, going from bottom to top. At the lower level, there was a gate that now is no longer exists. From there, stone steps are leading up to the middle floor.
The middle floor is called Mandapa (i.e., guesthouse, retreat house) for pilgrims to rest and prepare offerings. Mandapa is 20m long, 15m wide, including four rows of octagonal columns (including ten large columns and 12 small columns). On the body of the large columns, there are mortise holes, carved deep into the shape of the column that is symmetrical to the top of small columns.
The top floor is where the towers are located. The towers are built in the Cham style with tight bricks, which we cannot see the binder. The central church tower in the front row with 23 meters heigh, is the Ponagar tower.
The tower has four floors, and each level has doors, statues, and stone animals. Inside of the tower is a statue of the goddess (2.6 m high) carved in black marble (formerly of agarwood, and further afield of gold) sits on a solemn stone pedestal shaped like a lotus, its back leaned a large Bodhi leaf-shaped stone. This tower is a masterpiece of Champa sculpture, a harmonious combination of circular and embossing techniques.
At the top of the tower is a statue of Shiva riding on a Nandin, and mascot statues like swans, goats, elephants …
Every year from 21 to 23 March of the lunar calendar, it is the time of Po Nagar festival with many diverse activities to introduce and honor the beauty of Cham culture and is ranked as one of 16 nation’s festivals.
Source: Lao Dong