North of the city center tow bridges carry traffic over the Cai river, affording wonderful views en route of Nha Trang’s immense fishing fleet. The lion’s share of the city’ flotilla of cherry blue and red fishing boats harbour east of Xom Bong bridge at the top end of 2 thang 4, just beyond the Ha Ra Bridge, From this vantage point you’ll spy fishermen scrubbing down decks and getting things shipshape before the the next tide. Scissor – boats and coracles glide between this congregation of vessels, and balanced precariously on a boulder in the water is a small temple where fishermen make offerings prior to setting sail. Behind the boats to the east, the sleek lines of Nha Trang’s newest bridge, connecting Tran Phu St with the coast further north, testify to the city’s continuing development.
Xom Bong Bridge
deposit you right in front of the entrance to Nha Trang’s most gripping attraction. The Ponagar Cham Towers ( daily open 6am-6pm), just 2km north of the city center. Of the estimated ten towers or Kalan. Constructed by the Hindu Cham People on Cu Lao hill between the seventh and twelfth centuries, only four remain. Their baked red bricks weathered so badly through the centuries that restoration work on the towers has been necessary.
Despite the restoration, this complex of ages-old towers manages to produce an evocative atmosphere. And represent big business for the gaggles of young postcard sellers who counter rebuffs with a plaintive ”maybe later”
Visitors to the complex approach the towers via a curling flight of steps that is often swarming with photographer. But Cham worshipers would have entered the Mandata. Or meditation and offering hall, whose stone pillars are still visible on the hillside. And from there they would have mounted a set of steep steps directly up to the main tower.
Ponagar Cham Tower
The complex’s large and most attractive tower is 25m high norther tower. Ponagar Cham Tower was built in 817 by Harivarman I and dedicate to Yang Ino Po nagar. Tutelary Goddess Mother of the Kingdom and a manifestation of Uma, Shiva’s consort. Restored section stand out for their lighter hue, but the lotus petal and spearhead motifs that embellish the tower are original, as is the lintel over the outer door. On which a lithe four armed Shiva dance, flanked by musicians, on the back of an ox.
The two sandstone pillars supporting this lintel bear spidery Cham inscriptions. Inside, vestibule tapering to a pyramidal ceiling leads to the main Chamber. Whose sooty, darkness takes a little getting use to: a fog of incense hangs in the air. The golden statue that original stood in here was pilfered by the Khmer in the tenth century and replaced by the black stone statue of Uma still here today. Albeit minus its head, which was plundered by the French, and now reside in a Parisian museum. The ten arms of cross-legged Uma are nowadays obscured by a gaudy yellow robe, and a doll like face has been added. Yang Ino Po nagar is still worshipped as a protectress of the city, and the statue is bathed during the Merian Festival each March