|Tourists take photos at the foot of the relic complex|
Attracting large number of tourists
Ponagar Tower, built in 781 is an almost intact typical Champa culture architectural complex built of baked ceramic bricks. The Middle Tower (Ong palace), East Tower (Co Palace) and Northwest Tower (Dinh Co, Cau) are each associated with a god, and the main 23-meter tower is dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Thien Y A Na.
The Ponagar Temple Festival is held annually in March 20th to 23rd of the lunar calendar, welcoming tens of thousands of tourists. It is considered one of the largest festivals in the south central region and the Central Highlands and recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. All the solemn rituals are conducted according to the traditional culture of the Cham people who populated the region from the second to the mid-15th century. The rituals include statue bathing, wine and tea offerings, and readings. Cham people from the neighboring provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan line up for the ceremonies.
“I have been to Nha Trang many times and every time I want to go to the Ponagar Temple,” says Nguyen Thi Bich Tram, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City. “I like most the ball dancing and fruit offering to praise the merit and express gratitude to the Cham Goddess. The costumes of Cham women are very unique. The festival gives me a sense of joy, peace and prosperity. I find it amazing!”
|A Cham fan dance performance|
The legends about the Goddess Thien YA Na have been studied by many famous scholars such as Phan Thanh Gian and Nguyen Quynh. For the local people of Khanh Hoa Province, regardless of their religion, the tower and goddess are a source of pride and sacred place of worship where people come to ease pain and make their wishes.
For many years, the management board of the Thap Ba Tower Complex has organized many cultural and artistic activities of the Cham people, regularly displaying unique products including terracotta pottery and brocade weaving. It also provides a meeting place of artisans, dancers and musicians of the Cham ethnic group, who perform on such instruments as the Ginang and Paranung drums, Saranai flute, Kanhi monochord, sing and perform Cham dances.
“We are very proud of our Cham lovely and familiar dancing performances,” says Ma Van Thinh, a member of the Cham ethnic group from Ninh Thuan Province.
The hilltop complex is carefully preserved, providing a serene place of worship and affording fresh air and a view over the Nha Trang seaport.
Ponagar Tower is the largest Cham Pa architectural complex in Vietnam today. It consists of three floors with a gate
tower on the first floor; the Mandapa (guest house) on the second floor and the towers on the third floor.