Regarded as the foremost tourist attraction of Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa. Po Nagar Cham Towers are a complex of temples typical for Champa’s architecture and sculpture.
Excellent architecture of Po Nagar Cham Towers
Po Nagar Cham Towers stand on a 50 m above-sea-level-knoll near the Cai River, 2km to the north from Nha Trang downtown. Generally, the overall layout of Po Nagar Towers includes three floors upwards.
Architecture in detail
On the first floor, on the ground is the gate tower which no longer exists now. From there, stone stairs open onto the second floor.
The second floor Mandapa (the guest house or pillared meditation hall) is the place for pilgrims resting and preparing offerings. Mandapa own 20 m long, 15 m wide was built with 4 rows of octagonal pillars (including 10 big pillars and 12 small ones). Mortises digged deeply into big pillars and put parallel to tops of small ones.
On the third floor are towers. They built by bricks without adhesive in the Cham style. The major worshipping tower is Po Nagar Tower about 23m high, its location is on the front line.
Po Nagar Cham Towers Panorama
On each floor of the 4-storey tower there are entrance gates, statues of gods and goddesses, and stone shapes. Inside there, the statue of goddess (2.6 m high) carved in black granite (formerly aloes wood and gold). And it sit on a solemn lotus stone shape and leaning on a block of Bodhi-leave-shaped-marble. Moreover, it is the masterpiece of Cham sculpture harmonious combination of round statues and reliefs. On the top of the tower is the god Shiva riding on the god of bull named Nandin and other sacred objects.
Art and Sculpture
Most importantly, Po Nagar Cham Towers represent Champa art and sculpture. Although, scientific works have been done with participation of researchers. The building techniques from 8th century to 13th century are still a mystery for them to date. No one understands how Cham people placed bricks in 20×20 cm in close proximity without any adhesive. That is the uniqueness attracting tourists’ interests to the towers.
Po Nagar Cham Towers Art and Sculpture
Technically, they built the towers by bricks and decorated with stone and pottery ornaments attached to worshipping deities there. Sculptural works made of stone express different themes of Balamon religion. For instance, round statues (presently displayed at Khanh Hoa Museum) associated with the complex of towers and temples form a perfect art of architecture.
Po Nagar Cham Towers Festival
On the days paying tribute to Goddess Po Nagar (20-23 March of Lunar Calendar). Po Nagar Cham Towers welcome tens of thousands of pilgrims to the festival commemorating the virtues of Holy Mother Thien Y A Na who taught people to grow rice, raise silkworm and weaving to improve their lives.
Origin of Festival
In Cham people’s history and mind, the role of Po Inu Nagar goddess is the very important and only woman as a symbol of monolatry. People believe that Po Inu Nagar is the powerful and creative deity. She, the Lady of the Kingdom helped Cham people at first stages of their kingdom’s foundation. And she always leads the spirit life of families and community as a whole.
According to researchers, the ritual worshipping the Lady of the Kingdom has been conducted carefully by Cham and Kinh people at Po Nagar Cham Towers from middle 17th century to date. In 1653, Viet people from the north following the Nguyen Lord into the south to expand the territory stopped by the estuary of Cai river (Nha Trang) and established villages, hamlets, etc. And they themselves brought mother-worship cults from the Red River delta to this land.
Thong hala Dacing Show in the Festival
Every year, Po Nagar Temple Festival perform from March 20th to the 23rd according to the lunar calendar. Cham and Kinh people everywhere bring offerings, pilgrimage to Po Naga tower to express their deep gratitude for a woman who has taught people how to work and live by agriculture.
The main rituals of the Po Nagar Temple Festival including “muc duc” ritual (bath the statue) and “te quan gia” ritual (dressing up the Po Nagar Goddess) takes place at noon on the 20th of the third month in the lunar calendar, next is “Te sanh” ritual, offering food for the death, ball dance to invite the Goddess and Gods coming to the rituals. According to ritual, worship ceremony often prays for the peace, happiness and prosperity. “Te sanh” ritual often begins the interval between 11Am and 1Pm, night 22nd of the third month in the lunar calendar made by the elders, and then the officially ceremony will take place at 4 Am on the next day.
Goddess Worship in the Festival
The main ceremony is made by constitutional east, constitutional west and student performance, in turn offering wine, offering tea; they read the oration very reverent and solemn. Finally, group of Kinh and Cham people represent for palei, village … to ball dance, fruit dance, paper fan dance to praise and express their deep gratitude to “the mother country”.