Distance from Hoi An - 40 to 45 Kms
Duration - 4 to 5 hours
Time : Early Morning
Being a history student, once upon a time, I was always fascinated with the reach of the Indian culture as far as South East Asia. Most of us are pretty much aware of Angkor Wat in Cambodia or even Ayutthaya in Thailand, but not as many know about My Son, the religious capital of Cham Hindu Kings who ruled Central Vietnam from 3rd century till almost 18th century.
I had booked a package through Klook just a day before the departure date and got a confirmation within a couple of hours. They had a morning trip and an afternoon one but since we had so much more to explore in Hoi An, I opted for the Sunrise tour so that could come back well in time to do other things. Meanwhile, my wife opted to stay back in the resort and catch up on some sleep as our honeymoon was not going as relaxed as she had dreamt of all her life.
I was out of my bed at 3 : 30 am and at sharp 4 am, my guide was there in my hotel lobby. I was the first guest that he picked and was quite surprised that only 7 people had opted for the early morning sunrise tour. We picked up the remaining tourists and were on our way to My Son Group of Temples. Since My Son is roughly 40 KMS away from Hoi An, it takes around an hours time to reach the place. Our guide was friendly and gave us a brief introduction about My Son before handing us our mini breakfast packets.
We reached My Son before 6 am and the ticket counter had still not opened. In fact, we were the first ones to reach and apart from us there were mere two other tourists at that hour. For me, it was the perfect setting to explore a place - early in the morning and devoid of any other tourists. Soon we found ourselves on an electric car heading towards the main temple site.
Thereafter, we got off our vehicle and along with our guide started exploring the first cluster of Temples which even though in ruins, looked beautiful with the sun rising behind the hills. The Cham Kings who were mainly Hindu Kings started the construction of these temples roughly around 4th century when they were made mainly from wood. The wooden ones no longer exist and what we find today are the remnants of temples later constructed and made from red brick. Most of the these temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and hence the presence of male Lingas all over the complex.
Even though majority of the buildings were destroyed during the Vietnam War, effort have been on to get them reconstructed and restored and being an Indian, it was quite a proud moment to see that ASI too is doing it's bit for the restoration of these temples as went further on with the tour.
The guide showed us the other cluster of temples which were a few minutes walking distance away from the ones that we had seen prior to these. In total there are roughly some 71 of the tower temples that are spread across 8 groups. Since we were running short of time and our tour was supposed to end by 9 am, we headed back to our bus after taking the electric vehicle till the main gate.
Bit More About My Son
Mỹ Sơn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South-Central Vietnam, and is believed to be the longest inhabited archaeological site in IndoChina. It is indeed one of the more fascinating Hindu Temple sites in South East Asia and should be part of anyone's itinerary visiting Central Vietnam especially Hoi An.