Cham legends say Po Klong Garai tower was built by King Jaya Simhavarman III (Vietnamese history calls him Che Man) in the late 13th century to worship King Po Klong Garai (1151 - 1205), who helped the Cham fight foreign invaders, cultivate land, and develop farm production.
The tower embraces typical Cham architectural style, said Thanh Nhay, Deputy Director of Ninh Thuan Museum: “Po Klong Grai tower is the most intact architectural work of the Cham tower system in Vietnam. Since the Prime Minister signed a decision recognizing the tower as a special national relic site, it has received a growing number of visitors. In 9 months of this year, the tower welcomed 120,000 visitors. We expect to receive 87,000 visitors during the current Kate Festival and the remaining months of this year. In the past art performances were only organized at the Kate Festival, now several cultural performances take place on weekends, holidays, and New Year celebration.”
Po Klong Garai tower in Phan Rang-Thap Cham city, Ninh Thuan province (photo: Ngoc Anh)
Po Klong Garai tower has a set of Linga-Yoni, a statue of divine bovine-goddess Nandini, 2 inscriptions engraved on the tower’s door, and a Linga outside the southern wall of the tower. Some artifacts of the relic site are now kept and displayed at the Ninh Thuan Museum.
The Po Klong Garai tower complex has three towers – Kalan central tower, Gopura gate tower, and a Fire tower. In the relic site, there are also beautiful yards, a garden, and shrines as well as many architectural artifacts.
Pham Dai Duy, a tourist from Hai Phong city, said: “I find Cham culture very interesting with many unexplored points. The Tower has special architectural features. The towers were all constructed with unique methods and designs. For example, the Central Highlands has Rong communal houses and long houses, and in the Northwest, there are houses on stilts. The tower is very beautiful with unique architecture. This is the first time I come here and I will return.”
Po Klong Garai tower was recognized as a special national relic site in 2016. (photo: Ngoc Anh)
Van Quang Phu Don, Director of Cham Craft Villages Company, said: “We have been selling products of Bau Truc pottery village and My Nghiep brocade weaving village to tourists at Po Klong Garai tower for 5 years. Tourists buy many products to bring home as souvenirs. It is easy to carry textile products, but ceramic products are more difficult. We have a product consignment service for travelers. Visitors can also visit the 2 craft villages to see artisans working and buy souvenirs.”
Every year, the Po Klong Garai tower relic site hosts various religious ceremonies, traditional Cham festivals, and cultural performances. A prominent event that attracts tourists and locals is the Kate, New Year Festival of the Cham Brahman in July of the Cham calendar, which is in September or October on the Gregorian calendar.
Po Klong Garai tower is a spiritual symbol of Cham culture and an attractive tourist destination in Ninh Thuan province.