Po Nagar was born a peasant woman in the mountains. Legends suggest she felt destined to be royalty and so set sail for China. She used a piece of sandalwood only. Her treacherous journey was helped by the good spirits surrounding here on the journey. The spirits guided her to a Chinese Prince, whom she married. She came back to Vietnam and created a new civilisation. This was the Champa Civilisation.
The Cham Towers date back to 781 CE. A stele shows the marked year. The King built the Temple after his army defended successfully against the Java invaders. They attacked the locals, stole their jewels, destroyed the wooden temple and damaged the Linga. The King rebuilt the temple and paid homage to Po Nagar. She was the deity of the sea and defended the Champa against all enemies. It is now a Hindu Temple which stores Cham, Buddhist and Hindu artefacts and inscriptions.
Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese and Vietnamese alike prayer for defence against personal misfortune in these towers. Four towers remain and others are in rubble. Thap Chinh is an impressive 28m high tower with intricate stone carved cone shaped roofs. The North Tower holds carved musicians and a Shiva is seen. The gong and drum rest in the ceiling area. A black stone statue of Uma showing 8 out of 10 arms is resting against a beast in the main chamber. This is the most impressive tower.
Most other towers have been damaged or looted through the ages. The Cambodian Khmers, in particular, did a run on this temple in the 10th century. The Central Tower is one rebuilt of old bricks after decay and destruction from wars. The South Tower has aged better and pays homage to Shiva while the Northwest Tower still holds a few valuable relics. All the towers store various relics and Lingas. The museum has some old Champa sculptures and various artefacts from this period.
The Po Nagar Cham Towers are located at Hai Thang Tu, Vinh Phuoc, Nha Trang. Opening hours are 06:00-17:00 every day. Tickets are $1. English Tour Guides are available. Dress code is shoes, long trousers, shoulders to be covered.