Cham Towers In Binh Dinh Province
Cham Towers In Binh Dinh Province
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Binh Dinh, a coastal province in central Vietnam, is a land of martial arts plus majestic sea and mountain landscapes.
Once the political and cultural hub of the ancient Champa Kingdom, Binh Dinh retains traces of the Cham culture. The Cham towers there are numerous and architecturally diverse.
Cham cultural relics can be found in all of Vietnam’s central coast provinces. They exist in small clusters in other provinces, but are profusely scattered throughout Binh Dinh province, the heart of the Champa Kingdom that flourished here from the 10th to the 15th century. There are eight complexes of 14 Cham towers, some set in valleys, some on hilltops, and some close to the national highway.
The Twin Towers in Quy Nhon city are considered second to none in Cham architecture. One of the pair is 20 meters high and the other is 18 meters. The Twin Towers were built in the late 12th century and were officially recognized as a national cultural and historical relic in 1980.
In contrast to most other Cham towers whose tops taper to a point from a square foundation, the Twin Towers have blocky curved tops which overhang their square foundations. The upper parts are carved with dancing monkeys, deer, elephant-head lions, and meditators.
The corners are decorated with mythical Hindu stone birds. The decorative motifs are animal genies, revered in the Cham religion. The Twin Towers are the most famous Cham towers in Binh Dinh province.
Do Trung Kien of Hanoi is visiting the Twin Towers for the first time. “The Twin Towers’ architecture is really unique and interesting. I heard somewhere that they were built without using mortar. Their magical quality triggers my curiosity,” Kien said.
Another famous Cham tower complex in Binh Dinh province, the Bánh Ít (pyramid –shaped black cake) Towers, was built at the early 12th century atop a hill near what is now a conjunction of national highways 1A and 19 in Tuy Phuoc district.
The complex has four towers which, from a distance, look like a pyramid as its name would suggest. Each tower has a distinctive architecture, beautiful decoration, and great aesthetic value. The Banh It towers are included in the book "1,001 buildings you must see before you die".
Another famous spot is Duong Long complex in Tay Son district, built in the late 12th century when the Champa culture was flourishing. It has a 24-meter-high tower, flanked by two 22-meter-high towers.
The Duong Long towers are majestic pieces of architecture. Their vivid decorative patterns of flowers and animals show off delicate carving techniques.
Meanwhile, Thu Thien tower, also in Tay Son district, is small, elegant, and mysterious. Other famous Cham towers in Binh Dinh province include Canh Tien, Phu Loc, Binh Lam, and Hon Chuong.
Cham towers have stood virtually intact through a millennium. Each complex is unique, representing Cham architecture and culture in different periods of development.
Bui Tinh, Vice Director of the Binh Dinh Museum, said, “The provincial Department of Culture and Sports has asked the Museum to work with leading experts to restore the ancient Cham towers to drive local tourism development in the next five years.”
There have been many archaeological studies on Cham towers but most of them look just at the architecture and steer away from explaining the myths behind the towers.