Sustainable preservation targeted for My Son World Cultural Heritage

NDO – The ebb and flow of history, severe weather and damage from war during the past have seriously damaged the UNESCO-recognised My Son Sanctuary, posing the need for the protection and preservation of the World Cultural Heritage Site in a sustainable manner.


The My Son relics in the central province of Quang Nam covers a total area of nearly 11.6 million m2, surrounded by a closed mountain circle.

Its temples and towers which were built on low lying hills are likened to "red torches" among the green of surrounding trees and mountains. The core of the complex consists of 320 ha and 1,158 ha of forest with many species of rare animals and plants which are strictly protected. With its specific cultural values the My Son relic was recognised as a World Cultural Heritage in 1999.

According to experts, My Son was built in the 4th century and developed between the 7th and 13th centuries. The monument is the richest and most diverse architectural complex of the Cham people, with over 70 temples and a number of large inscriptions dating back many centuries ago.

Currently, there are only around 20 temples remaining in My Son. The temples here soar into the sky, symbolising greatness and purity, and are built of bricks with delicate techniques.

My Son temple is arranged with the main temple placed in the middle, representing Mount Ménu, the centre of the universe where the gods reign, consisting of three parts (base, body and roof). The tower’s base is square or cross shaped, symbolising the secular world; around the base are decorations with motifs of animal figures, kala or makala-face prayers, dancers and musicians.

The ebb and flow of history, the harshness of the weather and damage caused by wars has made My Son relics seriously degraded.

To preserve the unique cultural characteristics of the Cham people, the State has carried out restoration and conservation of the sanctuary. In 2008, the Prime Minister approved a planning project to preserve and promote the value of My Son relic area during the 2008-2020 period, with a total planning area of ​​11,160 ha.

The project aims to preserve the monument in a sustainable and long-term manner, commensurate with My Son values and suitable with the natural-social environment. Accordingly, the project is divided into two phases: Phase 1 from 2010 to 2016, focusing on scientific document development, thoroughly resolving any mines or toxic chemicals left over in the area, improving infrastructure, and restoring indigenous forests in order to increase the value of the monument; Phase 2, from 2016-2020, focusing on restoring some temples with a high risk of collapse.

In addition to the restoration activities, My Son Relics Management Board has also determined that the protection of the forest is one of the most important tasks. The forested area surrounding the My Son Sanctuary mainly belongs to the communes of Duy Phu, Duy Hoa, Duy Son and a part of Que Trung commune in Nong Son district.

As hunting and deforestation have increased, forest resources and biodiversity have declined. In the face of this challenge, My Son management board has established a security team to protect forests and invest in equipment and tools dedicated to forest fire prevention and control.

The unit has also organised dozens of kilometres of green runways to prevent forest fires. In addition, they have also deployed forces to track down wildlife hunters and demolish traps in the forest.

Forest development and the conservation of valuable gene sources are also of concern to the management board. Specifically, they have organised planting activities for indigenous species to develop forests according to the criteria of special-use forests and embellishing the landscape of historical relics.

Endangered species are also protected and developed; along with that is the return of wildlife species such as wild boars, chickens, monkeys and birds.

To effectively and sustainably improve forest management and protection, the Management Board of My Son Relics have proposed a number of solutions to consolidate the whole system of guard stations and forest patrol teams; develop plans for forest protection and management, reduce deforestation and prevent and fight against forest fires; make a map of natural forest patrol routes; and promote the dissemination of information to raise people's awareness on environmental protection and the effective management of forest resources.

With the aim of preserving the site in a sustainable and long-term manner, commensurate with its values and in line with the natural and social environment, Quang Nam People's Committee will organise the reproduction of ancient festivals by Cham people in My Son Sanctuary; at the same time, giving the top priority to preserve intact the historical, cultural, scientific and traditional values ​​of the monument, whilst strengthening information campaigns to promote the historical significance of My Son.

In particular, local authorities prohibit motorised vehicles with emissions from entering the centre of the My Son World Cultural Heritage, with visitors walking or traveling by electric trams. These activities are expected to promote the heritage’s values through tourism and services, thus generating incomes to contribute to the long-term management, protection and embellishment works.