Worth a look if you are there
Published/Last edited or updated: 15th December, 2020
West of Thap Cham train station, in the northwest corner of the city, Po Klong Garai is a collection of 13th and 14th century Cham towers perched on Trau Hill. Thap Cham means “Cham tower”, the historic site is obviously the town’s namesake and one of the main reasons travellers stop in this city.
There are three brick towers: the gate tower, fire tower and the most impressive, the main tower. Over 20 metres high, the kalan or sanctuary features an exquisite relief of Shiva and carvings in the Cham language. At the vestibule you will also see the statue of a bull (Nandin) that is fed offerings by farmers to ask for a good harvest.
Considering the ravages of time and development, the towers themselves are impressively sturdy and delicately ornamented. The Cham people still use the towers as a pilgrimage spot. The most significant time is the Kate Festival in October, when the temple is alive with ceremonies, offerings and traditional dance. Phan Rang Thap Cham was the last capital of the Cham kingdom before it was conquered by the ethnic Vietnamese, so the spot holds significance for the ethnic Cham who still chaff a bit under the rule of the majority people.
To reach Po Klong Garai Cham Tower, head out of Phan Rang south on Thong Nhat Street, bearing left onto Tran Phu Street. At the big roundabout with Highway 1A, circle round but keep straight and continue northwest on Hai Muoi Mot Thang Tam for five kilometres. You’ll pass through the town of Thap Cham (and understand why we didn’t bother to cover it). After the railroad tracks, turn right onto small Bac Ai Street—there’s a sign pointing to the towers,150 metres ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
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