These imposing Cham towers date from the end of the 13th century. Built from brick as Hindu temples, they stand on a platform at the top of Cho’k Hala, an exposed granite hill. It can be furnace-hot here.
Over the entrance to the largest tower (the kalan, or sanctuary) is a beautiful carving of a dancing Shiva with six arms. Note the inscriptions in the ancient Cham language on the doorposts. These tell of past restoration efforts and offerings of sacrifices and slaves.
Inside the kalan's vestibule is a statue of the bull Nandin, vehicle of the Hindu god Shiva. Nandin is also a symbol of the agricultural productivity of the countryside. To ensure a good crop, farmers would place an offering of fresh greens, herbs and areca nuts in front of Nandin’s muzzle. Under the main tower is a mukha-linga sitting under a wooden pyramid. Liquor is offered and incense burned here.
Inside the smaller tower opposite the entrance to the sanctuary you can get a good look at some of the Cham’s sophisticated building technology; the wooden columns that support the lightweight roof are visible. The structure attached to it was originally the main entrance to the complex.
Po Klong Garai is just north of Hwy 20, at a point 6km west of Phan Rang towards Dalat. The towers are on the opposite side of the tracks to Thap Cham Train Station. Some of the open-tour buses running the coastal route make a requisite pit stop here.