Everyone knows Angkor Wat and My Son Sanctuary are famous place in the world as UNESCO World Heritage. But just a few people knows about Po Klong Garai that is one of beautiful ancient and mystery architecture.
Po Klong Garai is a last imposing Cham temple tower in Vietnam. It consists of three brick towers: the main tower (20,5m height), a gate tower (8,56m height), and an elongated tower with a saddle-like roof with the name Fire tower (9,31m height). It is located in the medieval Cham principality of Panduranga, now is near the city of Phan Rang at 9km distance. It was built from the end of 13th century to the beginning of 14th century, in honor of the legendary king Po Klong Garai (1151 – 1205) by the historic King Jaya Sinhavarman who ruled Champa from 1285 to 1307 and is called Chê Mân in Vietnamese.
LEGEND OF KING PO KLONG GARAI
According to local people, there is a legend related to Po Klong Garai. Once upon a time, at Play Chakling, there was an old married couple On Paxa and Muk Chakling without the kid. One day, they went to the beach for fishing and saw a baby was drifting on the waves then they adopted her and called her Karit.
Karit grew up so fast, she looked gorgeous and been very kind, everyone likes her. One day, she went to forest with her foster father for gathering wood. It was very hot, they were thirsty but there wasn’t any river or waterfall nearby, all of a sudden Karit saw a rock, on its surface, there was a small puddle water and then she drank it. One strange thing that the puddle was never dry for her but only she can drink it when her father came it was empty as nothing was there.
After few months, Karit was pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy but he was very ugly and gluttony. His name is Jatol. Karit was really sad and cannot accept the mockery from the neighbour that she did not get married but has a baby, then she decided to leave the baby for her parents and move to the forest.
Jatol was uglier and had much scabies when he grew up, therefore, nobody wanted to be friend with him except Po Klonchanh. After his grand parents passed away, Jatol and Po Klonchanh became betel vendors. One day, on the way back to home, Jatol felt tired and took a rest on the road, Po Klonchanh went home first then brought food and water back for Jatol, when he arrived, he saw two dragons was licking Jatol, and Jatol changed to be a good looking man. This uncanny thing propagates everywhere and to king Nuhol. As people says that Jatol is talented, King Nuhol decided to give his daughter princess Thakol for Jatol.
Jatol becomes king of Champa by destiny and called king Po Klong Garai (Dragon King of J’arai people), ruling wisely and for the good of the people. When the Khmer of Cambodia invaded his hometown Panduranga by general Hakral, king Po Klong Garai challenged them to settle the matter peacefully in a tower-building contest. Po Klong Garai built the tower on Balhla hill and Hakral built on Balhu hill, king Po Klong Garai prevailed in the contest, thereby obliging the invaders to return home.
After his death, Po Klong Garai became a god and protector of the people on earth; it is said that the tower he built in his contest is the tower that today is known by his name.
The main tower (behind) – 20,5m height
The fire tower – 9,31m height
The gate tower – 8,56m height
Po Klong Garai temple tower is a mysterious architecture because nobody knows how it can keep the crude beauty in almost 1000 years. Furthermore, between each brick people cannot find any mortar but the tower is extremely strong, it is a big question still now for the architect. Moreover, the brick always has the pretty orange color as always new.
Festival at Po Klong Garai
Every year at the first day of July on Cham’s ethnic calendar, there is folk festival Katé, it is very important to Cham people for memorizing national hero (being honored as God of Cham). People concentrates at ancient Po Klong Garai tower enjoying folk dances in the storage musical of Cham. Everyone rested in full of joy, visit and praise each other.
HOW TO GO THERE?
Firstly, you must go to Phan Rang city by bus from HCMC (5 hrs – 6 hrs), you can also start from Nha Trang (4 hrs – 5 hrs). Next, you can drive motorbike 7km to Po Klong Garai, you can find the way easy on the map or fast way to grab a taxi.
HOPE YOU ENJOY IN PO KLONG GARAI 🙂
*All of the information above was referenced with local people and Wikipedia*