The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little-Known Ancient Temple Ruins in Vietnam

Last month I took quite a few epic adventures in-between guidebook writing, which unfortunately I haven't had time to really share here. I think though that I'd better take a break from crime fighting and insert some Indiana Jones back into the mix so I don't lose viewership!

Below are some photos of remote temples that have been prescribed to the Oc Eo culture of Vietnam by government archaeologists. I happen to think that Oc Eo is hogwash but perhaps I should save my explanation why for a book deal... I believe these are Champa.

This first set of 3 photos is from the Cat Tien ruins in Dong Nai province, just outside the national park. These ruins are comprised of at least eight sets of temples on the Dong Nai River. Most of them are not actually accessible to the public, but well, lets just say someone had mercy on me after driving for 2 days on hot dusty backroads on the back of a motorbike to get there.

This is a big chamber under the center of one of the temples. This is where the archaeologists found buried treasures, some of which are on display at the Lam Dong Museum in Da Lat.

Here's some of that buried treasure I was talking about. Solid gold pressed characters on display in the Lam Dong Museum.

Here's me in front of that temple. I had to get permission to stand here. There was a similar ruin right beside it, and three larger temple buildings surrounding.

This is the main temple ruin at Cat Tien, set on a hilltop. You are looking at the largest Linga (phallic) in SE Asia.

This is Choc Mat Temple in Tay Ninh Province, near the Cambodian border. This we reconstructed with a great deal of imagination by French specialists. I am doubtful of the authenticity of those rounded arches. I was interested to see however, that the base, which is largely original, bares striking resemblance to temple ruins I have seen in Central Vietnam.

This is Binh Thanh Temple further south in Tay Ninh Province. It's also been reconstructed by imaginative French people.


Andy Brouwer said...

Interesting comment about the largest linga in SEAsia. I beg to differ, though its hard to see the size of the one in your photo. In Cambodia we have the massive linga temples at Koh Ker as well as the biggest linga of all that sat atop Phnom Bok (near Siem Reap) but is currently in pieces.
Just thought I'd mention them. I don't have info on any other countries in SEAsia.

Adam Bray said...

Do you mean to say you think your linga's bigger 'n my Linga, Mr. Cambodia adventure man? Hehe.

Maybe they meant biggest linga still in one piece? Actually I took a look at your blog and that Koh Ker piece is quite an enviable hunk of stone. It does look a little bigger than Cat Tien's. Cat Tien's linga is roped off but it seemed roughly 2m tall and about as big around as me (my waist line that is).

The Vietnamese are prone to exaggeration, and the size of ones linga could be a matter of national pride I suppose.

Its a funny issue on whether it is, or uhm, isn't, what first comes to mind. I've seen a few Cham lingas that are a little, uhm, rather explicit in their detailing. ;-)

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