One of the best cultural experiences in Vietnam was the visit to the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary, translated from Vietnamese “Beautiful mountain”. You’ll have the chance to visit it from Hoi An or Da Nang by buying a bus tour with a guide or by yourself riding a motorbike, it will much cheaper. The bus tour is around 170.000 VND and the ticket to the Sanctuary is 150.000VND. But if you’ll go by yourself, you could pay a ticket only for seeing the monuments without a guide for 40.000 VND.
Constructed from the 4th to 13th century, the more than 70 temples-towers left in the heart of Mỹ Sơn Valley are typical examples of the Champa Hindu Civilization that once flourished on the central lands of Vietnam.
There are many similarities in architecture between this sanctuary and the Complex of AngorWatt in Cambodia. In the main complex of the sanctuary, all the temples face the east sunrise, having the purpose of worshiping their gods. But in the burial area, the temples face west having the purpose of burying their kings.
After the 13th century, this Hindu Center was abandoned and forgotten in the deep forests until the 19th century. However, the conservation of Mỹ Sơn’s relics was stopped by the war of Vietnam when most of the monuments there were destroyed. The work of Restauration recommenced in the 1980s helping the Mỹ Sơn sanctuary to be placed on the World Cultural Heritage List, in December 4th, 1999.
Over the last 20 years, conservation work has been given a new breath of life with more attention from both domestic and international communities.
If you want to see a piece of Indian history in Vietnam, I totally recommend you to visit this sanctuary. You’ll travel back in time and you’ll understand instantly how small is this world. We are more connected with each other than we believe. Indian civilization had a big impact in South-east Asia and these reminiscents of the past have the role to remember us of the ancient civilization’s power.
“The ancient Champa people embodied their spirit in sand and stone and they knew how to rely on nature to create a majestic, solemn and superb Mỹ Sơn. This is an invaluable architectural museum of mankind which has taken us a long time to fully understand…” Kazimierz Kwiatkowski polish architect and conservator