The main kalan (sanctuary), B1, was dedicated to Bhadresvara, which is a contraction of the name of King Bhadravarman, who built the first temple at My Son, combined with ‘-esvara’, which means Shiva. The first building on this site was erected in the 4th century, destroyed in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 7th century. Only the 11th-century base, made of large sandstone blocks, remains.
B5, built in the 10th century, was used for storing sacred books and objects used in ceremonies performed in B1. Over the window on the outside wall facing B4 is a brick bas-relief of two elephants under a tree with two birds in it. The ornamentation on the exterior walls of B4 is an excellent example of a Cham decorative style, typical of the 9th century and said to resemble worms. The style is unlike anything found in other Southeast Asian cultures.
B3 has an Indian-influenced pyramidal roof typical of Cham towers. Inside B6 is a bath-shaped basin for keeping sacred water that was poured over the linga in B1; this is the only known example of a Cham basin. B2 is a gate.
Around the perimeter of Group B are small temples, B7 to B13, dedicated to the gods of the directions of the compass (dikpalaka).
Group A was almost completely destroyed by US bombs. According to locals, the massive A1, considered the most important monument at My Son, remained impervious to aerial bombing and was intentionally finished off by a helicopter-borne sapper team. All that remains today is a pile of collapsed brick walls. After the destruction of A1, Philippe Stern, an expert on Cham art, wrote a letter of protest to US president Nixon, who ordered US forces to stop damaging Cham monuments.
The 8th-century C1 was used to worship Shiva, portrayed here in human form. Inside is an altar where a statue of Shiva, now in the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang, used to stand. Note the motifs, characteristic of the 8th century, carved into the brickwork of the exterior walls. With the massive bomb crater in front of this group, it’s amazing that anything’s still standing.
Buildings D1 and D2 were once meditation halls and now house small displays of Cham sculpture. Dating from the 8th century, Group A is overgrown and inaccessible. Preservation has now been completed at Group G, where a roof arches over the 12th-century temples, and there is also a new exhibition space with archaeological findings from the site.
Group E was built between the 8th and 11th centuries, and renovation of this site is nearing completion, while Group F dates from the 8th century; both were badly bombed. Follow the path towards K – a stand-alone small tower – to loop back towards the car park.
My Son Museum
My Son's impressive museum has many statues from the site, as well as information about the carvings, statues and architecture, and how the temples were constructed. Cham culture, religion and way of life are also explained.