Culture of Phan Rang-Thap Cham

Thap Cham and Pham Rang distinct, has become a center for the maintenance of Cham culture. Much of the district is occupied by Cham people where they have rice paddies, orchards of grapes and peaches, flocks of goats and beautiful Brahmin cattle. Their towers (the 'Thap') are beautiful memorials to their kings and queens. There are several Cham sites with dilapidated towers along the central coast of Vietnam and major sites in My Son and Na Trang.

However, there are two sites in the Thap Cham - Phan Rang district being maintained and culturally active. Two kilometers west of the Thap Cham railway station, there is excellent hilltop Cham tower complex dedicated to the king Po Klong Garai, the last reigning king; his likeness is depicted on a lingam in the sanctuary of the central tower. A second tower for the king Po Re Do is located about 20 km south west of Thap Cham, via Phu Quy to Phouc Hou and the village Hau Sanh; this tower is undergoing extensive renovation (Jul 2012).

The towers are currently used for the very colorful Cham festivals, particularly "Kate" in October (Oct 15th in 2012) when they still sacrifice a bullock and other food offerings. Other ceremonies for Ramadan, a Rain Festival (as required), weddings and other celebrations are also held. Apart from the incorporation of Islam into their cultural and religious practice, another point of cultural difference is that their heredity line is maternal. The animist foundation of Cham culture, with fire motif on the towers, rustic traditions and very colorful ceremonial dress makes the Cham culture an ideal tourist resource for Vietnam, as yet poorly developed.

Architecturally, the towers are intricately built in small red bricks, almost dry stone construction with very fine mortar lines. The towers are topped by calyx like minarets, arches are rimmed by special bricks fired with tongue like extensions on the extremities to represent flames; it is very intricate brick work requiring