Between the 4th and 13th centuries a kingdom with a unique culture owing its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. Today, the physical remains of this culture, the Champa Kingdom, are illustrated at the World Heritage site of My Son Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in a visually dramatic landscape and was the spiritual centre of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence. From the 13th century the Champa Kingdom slowly declined and was absorbed by the growing power of Dai Viet. It ceased to exist as an entity in the later 15th century, when worship ceased at My Son. As the main intellectual and religious centre of Cham civilization, My Son was the place where kings were cremated and towers built to commemorate their great deeds of conquests. The majority of the temples were dedicated to the Cham Kings who, after their death, were associated with divinities of the Hindu pantheon, especially Shiva, who was considered the founder of the Champa Dynasty. Eight groups of 71 standing monuments, built throughout the 7th to 13th centuries, exist as well as extensive buried archaeology representing the complete historic sequence of construction of tower temples at the site, covering the entire period of the existence of the Champa Kingdom. The monuments have a variety of architectural designs symbolizing the greatness and purity of Mount Meru, the mythical sacred mountain home to Hindu gods at the center of the universe. The groups of monuments are constructed in fired brick with stone pillars and decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
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