Hidden away in the jungly hills of central Vietnam is the ancient religious complex of My Son. The ruined complex, built by the Cham people, is home to a series of ornate red brick temples. Sadly some of the most striking examples were destroyed by the US during the Vietnam War, but what remains offers a fascinating glimpse into a magnificent ancient culture and the people who built it.
Built between the 4th and 13th centuries, the complex of My Son was discovered by the French towards the end of the 19th century and has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple complex has been divided into a series of groups and during my visit, I made a beeline to groups B and C, which are home to the best preserved temples.
The weather-worn temples are incredible and quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They’re covered in lots of intricate carvings (above), including wonderful sculptures similar to those I’d admired at the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang. They’re really something and I couldn’t help but admire the craftsmanship of the Cham people as I walked around the site.
The entire site was far bigger than I’d anticipated, and while groups B and C weren’t massive, there were a fair few temples to explore and I spent quite a bit of time looking around them all. You can go inside some of the temples, too, which I enjoyed, as I was keen to see how the buildings looked from the inside, as well as the outside. After admiring the many temples, I headed over to the small galleries in group D where a number of sculptures once housed in the temples were on display.
I really enjoyed my visit to My Son. It was a fascinating place and the temples are beautiful. It’s a real shame that group A, which housed the complex’s most magnificent temples, was destroyed during US bombing raids and that such incredible buildings have been lost to posterity. The complex is magical as it is, but it must have been truly spectacular during its heyday with so many bright, ornate red brick temples in the middle of the thick green jungle. A must-see if you’re ever in Vietnam.