Po Klong Garai is a Cham temple tower located in the medieval Cham principality of Panduranga, near the city of Phan Rang in what is now southern Vietnam. It was built in honor of the legendary king Po Klaung Garai by the historic King Jaya Sinhavarman III,:217 who ruled Champa from c. 1285 to 1307 and is called Chê Mân in Vietnamese.
According to legend, Po Klong Garai (Cham language : Dragon king of J'rai people) started life as a lowly cowherd, but became king of Champa by destiny, ruling wisely and for the good of the people. When the Khmer of Cambodia invaded his kingdom, he challenged them to settle the matter peacefully in a tower-building contest. Po Klaung Garai prevailed in the contest, thereby obliging the invaders to return home. After his death, Po Klaung Garai became a god and protector of the people on earth; it is said that the tower he built in his contest with the Khmer is the tower that today is known by his name.
The Cham King Jaya Simhavarman III (Viet: Chê Mân) is credited with constructing the tower in honor of Po Klaung Garai toward the end of the 13th century. However, the presence of several steles from an earlier period suggests that Jaya Simhavarman may merely have restored and added to structures that were already in place.
An inscription, dated 1050, at Po Klong Garai commemorated the military victory of two Cham princes (presumably representing the northern dynasty of Indrapura headquartered near Mỹ Sơn) over the people of Panduranga in southern Champa. According to the inscription, the victorious princes celebrated by erecting two lingas and a victory column.
The temple of Po Klaung Garai belongs to what is known as the Thap Mam Style of Cham art and architecture. It consists of three brick towers: a main tower with three stories, a smaller gate tower, and an elongated tower with a saddle-like roof. The group of buildings is well preserved, and "is distinguished by the purity of its outlines and the austerity of its decor." Over the front door of the main tower is a sculpture of the god Siva that is regarded as one of the masterpieces of the Thap Mam Style. The remaining images are less impressive, revealing "an art in terminal decline, due to its stiffness and arid workmanship." The tower with the saddle-like roof is said to be dedicated to the God of Flame, Thang Chuh Yang Pui.
The primary religious image in the temple is a mukhalinga of the 16th or 17th century. A mukhalinga is a linga with a human face. In general, the linga is the emblem of the Hindu god Siva, but the Cham say that this one is a statue of King Po Klaung Garai. The temple is still the site of Cham religious festivals.
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