My Passion Voyage

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Vietnam – MySon Temples

MySon, Vietnam

Vietnam - My Son - Sanctuaire

Mỹ Sơn is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples in Vietnam, constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa.  It is located near the village of Duy Phú, 69 km southwest of Da Nang and 40 km from Hoi An.

Vietnam - My Son - Ruin

It is regarded as one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia and is the foremost heritage site of this nature in Vietnam.

From the 4th to the 14th century AD, the valley at Mỹ Sơn was a site of religious ceremony for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa, as well as a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes.

The constructions include temples, towers, tombs and reddish brick structures that are linking the various buildings. You can visit Champa remains elsewhere in Vietnam, for example in Mui Ne and in Nha Trang.

The temples are in a valley roughly two kilometres wide that is surrounded by two mountain ranges, and are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva.

Vietnam - My Son - Temple

At one time, the site encompassed over 70 temples as well as numerous stele bearing historically important inscriptions in Sanskrit and Cham.

The Cham reign before succumbing, and My Son was buried and forgotten for centuries, until the year 1885 where it was discovered by the French.

Vietnam- My Son - Temple caché
Vietnam - My Son - River
Vietnam - My Son - Sculpture
Vietnam - My Son- Sculture sans tete
Vietnam - My Son - Sculture sans tete 2
Vietnam - My Son - Dancers

Mỹ Sơn is perhaps the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina, but a large majority of its architecture was destroyed by US carpet bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War.  Fortunately 20 buildings have great condition.

Mỹ Sơn  temples have Indian and Indonesian influences, noticeable particularly in stone sculptures shaped goddesses, reminding by its style to the apsaras of Temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

It is also often compared with other historical temple complexes in Southeast Asia, such as Borobudur of Java in Indonesia, , Bagan of Myanmar and Ayutthaya of Thailand.

As of 1999, My Son has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Cambodia was on top of my bucket list and I have been luncky enough, this year, to realise this dream.

After the very dark years of the Vietnam war and Pol Pot’s genocide, the country is only emerging and opening to the rest of the world.

Mixing with the locals will, of course, bring your experience with this country to another level and is definitely worth doing.


My first visit was to Angkor Wat.

I booked a tuk-tuk with a guide, Bora-Pheng, for three days to visit Angkor and the major temples.  Bora-Pheng has been a real gem and his knowledge of the history is phenomenal.  I have read a lot about guides whose command of English is poor; therefore, it is advisable to get in touch with other visitors to check that you will get the best of your guide whilst in Cambodia.

You will find a lot of information about guides with tuk-tuk on Facebook and Tripadvisor.

My dream was to watch the sun set over the temple.
Unfortunately, that day, the sun decided not to show up (at least, not at 6am).
However, seeing the temple coming to life was an amazing experience.

Angkor Wat means “Royal Temple City” and in Khmer “the pagoda city”.
It is also the symbol of Cambodia, which can be found on the national flag.
It was built during the reign of Suryavarman II.
It was originally an Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, but became a Buddhist one in the 16th century.
An army of 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants is considered to have been involved in its construction.

The temple was abandoned in the 16th century, the reasons being still unknown today. Buried for centuries, it is Henri Mouhot, a French geographer, who discovered it the first to discover  in 1860.
It was built on the principle of temples-mountains, that is to say as a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, place of residence of the gods.
The high walls represent the mountains, the moats represent the ocean and the summit of the temple, the residence of the gods.

Since 1992, it is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage.


Ta Prohm is also called the Tom Raider temple.

The temple was built around 1186.
With the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century, the temples were abandoned and forgotten.
400 years later, European explorers discovered them.
The appearance it has today is very similar to the day it was discovered as it was decided to leave Ta Prohm as it was.

The only changes that have been made were to avoid the collapse of the site.

Before its fall, Ta Prohm was an important monastery and a Buddhist university.

King Jayavarman VII built the site in honor of his mother.
An inscription in sanskrit gives an idea of its importance: nearly 80,000 people were in charge of its maintenance.
It contained more than 500 kilos of gold, 35 diamonds and several thousand precious stones.

It is comprised of 39 towers, which makes it is one of the largest temples of the Angkor complex.


Bayon is the central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the capital of Khmer sovereings in the early 13th century.

It is composed of 54 towers, each consisting of 4 huge carved faces. Each of the four faces is four meters high and oriented towards the four cardinal points. The faces all have the same strange smile and closed eyes.  The creation of a mysterious and serene face represents a state of omniscience, inner peace and perhaps a state of Nirvana.

The last state temple was built around the beginning of the 13th century,
by King Jayavarman VII, who was at the height of his reign.

Around 1350, at the time of King Jayavarman VIII (1243-1295), the temple was converted to hinduism, the official religion of the Khmers at this time.

The faces on the towers arouse a lot of supposition.

Archaeologists claimed that they are inspired by the faces of Lokeshvara and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara or Brahma. These Buddhist deities are known for their benevolence projected outward to the four cardinal points.
Other scholars thought they were the depiction of King Jayavarman VII.

These constructions reflect the omnipresence of the religious deities within the ancestral city of Angkor.

In 1992, Bayon was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

To be continued…

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