Ponagar temple is one of the most famous landmarks in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In this travel guide, you’ll know useful information about the temple, including ticket prices, opening hours, how to get there, and tips.
Where is Ponagar temple?
Ponagar temple is located on 2 Thang 4 street, about 2km north of Nha Trang city center.
Arriving at the destination, you’ll find the temple complex on top of a small hill about 10-12 meters above sea level, at the mouth of the Cai river.
- Address: April 2, Vinh Phuoc, Nha Trang
- Opening hours: 8 am to 6 pm
- Ticket price: 20,000 VND/ adult
About Ponager temple
While the name “Ponagar Tower” refers to the whole structure, it’s actually the name of the largest tower about 23 meters high.
This temple complex was built when Hinduism was flourishing in the Champa Kingdom. So the goddess statue has the shape of Uma, Shiva’s wife.
From March 20th to 23rd of the lunar month, the tower festival is held solemnly.
The architecture of Ponagar temple
This temple complex is the largest Champa architectural complex in Vietnam. It’s divided into three areas: the Gate Tower, Mandapa (vestibular area), and the temple tower.
Currently, the complex has only five architectural works, concentrated in Mandapa and the Tower Temple above.
1. Mandapa (Foreground Area)
Dating back to the 11th century, the architecture was built of bricks with four rows of large columns.
There are ten large columns inside and 12 small octagon columns on the outside.
It’s believed that this place was used for preparing gifts before the offering.
2. Temple area
The temple tower area has a total of 6 Kalan, which means temple/tower in the Champa language.
There are only 4 towers left, with 2 buildings destroyed, and only the foundation remains.
These towers were all built the same way, with the only difference in size and width. The tower foot is straight to near the top of the tower, and the top has a conical shape.
Each tower has 4 doors facing East, West, South, and North. However, only the East Gate is open to pilgrims and extends to the vestibule. The remaining 3 doors are fake.
2.1 The Northern tower
This tower is also the tallest in this complex, at about 23m in height.
It was built from 813 to 817 and restored and repaired in the 11th century.
The four corners of the roof are 4 small towers, of which 3 roof floors gradually shrink upwards. You can see the decoration with the mascots such as elephant, goose, and goat.
Viewing the arch of the door, you will easily see the stone leaf-shaped relief plate assembling the embodiment of the four dancing arms of the god Shiva. Shiva’s right foot rests on Nandin’s ox, and both sides are flute-playing musicians.
Moreover, this plate is also one of the most beautiful reliefs of Champa culture in Vietnam.
There’re also inscriptions engraved with Sanscrit words mixed with ancient letters on the stone pillars at the door.
The content records the construction of the tower and the offerings of the Kings and the Cham royal family to the Goddess and the Goddess’s blessing to all peoples.
2.2. South Tower
Dated to the 13th century, This tower is the second largest after the main tower, with a height of 18m. It’s said to be the place to worship Lord Shiva – the goddess’ husband.
2.3. The Northwestern Tower
This is the third tallest in the entire tower, about 9m.
The tower dated back to 817 and was rebuilt in the 13th century. You can find some intact decoration and architecture.
On each fake doorway is a mascot delicately carved on the bricks. The southern one is the image of the god Garuda, and the North is the time god Kala. The west is a statue of the goddess riding an elephant.
The tower only has one floor, and the roof is simulated like a boat.
The Northwestern tower worships Ganesha – the image of luck, wisdom, and happiness. The main mascots in the building are Linga and Yoni. It is a place to pray for happiness, flourishes, and reunion.
2.4 Southeast Tower
The Southeast tower is only 7.1m high and the smallest building of all. It was built quite simple with a boat-shaped roof.
The tower worships the power and war Skandha.
In addition to towers, you can also find the ancient Champa inscription at Ponagar Tower, showing the culture, religion, and history of the Champa kingdom.