It was god damn hot as we made our way up Ba Na Hill to marvel at the Po Shanu Cham Towers with some casualties on the way. Some stopped for a drink of water; others just took a quick breather.
Now it is not by any stretch of imagination a long walk from the parking area at the little gift shop, five minutes tops, but when the heat is hitting and rising, I myself even had to hit the water bottle. There were a few elderly members in our group, I don’t blame them. It was insanely hot.
If you are not historically-minded, this spot is worth visiting just for the panoramic view of Phan Thiet, the East Sea and surrounding landscapes. Put the tower aside and this would still be a popular vantage point with tourists and it is ideally located just seven kilometers of Phan Thiet City
As for the three stunning towers that date back from the ninth century, they are regarded as one of the most precious and important cultural vestiges of the Champa Kingdom. Built in the late eighth century, the group of towers worships the Shiva (an Indian god).
Beside these three towers, there also once stood a temple, but it has been buried in the ground for more than 300 years. Inside the main tower, there is an altar, on which Liga-Yoni, a symbol of the existence of the Shiva, is worshipped.
The architecture is Hoa Lai art which was a Champa Kingdom trademark. There are not many left in Vietnam, with ruins in My Son Holy Land, Phang Rang, Tuy Phong (both Binh Thuan Province) and of course the Po Shanu Cham towers – which are unique as they are among the oldest structures and the best preserved. Po Shanu was a princess and daughter of King Para Chanh, who was loved by her people for her talent and virtue.
In 1992-1995, an archaeological excavation discovered the foundations of many temples that had been buried for hundreds of year. Since this excavation, the temples were named Poshanu and were restored.
The Champa people from surrounding areas come to the towers every year to conduct different rituals. Fishermen also come here to pray for luck before they go to sea. At Lunar New Year, the Rija Nuga and Poh Mbang Yang festivals are organized at the foot of the towers where people come to ask for luck in the new year.
Having versed myself in all the history of the towers which was truly fascinating, I tried to take it all in at what is such a peaceful spot and a fitting location for the peaceful Champa race whose culture is such an important part of Vietnam’s history
(Sai Gon Times)