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Lady Po Nagar who originated from Khanh Hoa province was the founder of the powerful Cham kingdom according to Cham tradition claims. She was the daughter of a peasant family in the mountains of Dai An. Spirits assisted her when she sailed on a drift piece of sandalwood to China, where she married a Chinese crown prince, the son of the Emperor of China, with whom she had 2 children, and then became Queen of Champa. When she returned to Champa to visit her family, the Prince refused to let her go, but she flung the sandalwood into the ocean, disappeared with her children and reappeared at Nha Trang to her family. When the Chinese prince tried to follow her back to Nha Trang, she was furious, and turned him and his fleet into stone.

The Champa state, an Indianized kingdom located on parts of what is now southern and central Vietnam, lasted from approximately the 7th century through to 1832. The Cham people are remnants of this kingdom. They speak Cham, a Malayo-Polynesian language. Cham culture and society were influenced by forces emanating from China, from India, from Cambodia, from Java, as well as from other sources.

From the 7th to the 10th centuries, the Cham controlled the trade in spices and silk between China, India, the Indonesian islands, and the Abbassid empire in Baghdad. They supplemented their income from the trade routes not only by exporting ivory and aloe, but also by engaging in piracy and raiding. The Cham launched a surprise attack against the Khmer capital in 1177, killed the Khmer king and made off with much booty. Cham forces also sacked Thăng Long, the capital city of Đại Việt located at the site of modern Hanoi, in 1372 and then again in 1377.

Factors contributing to the decline of Champa over the next several centuries include its enviable position along the trade routes, its relatively small population base, and its frequently antagonistic relations with its closest neighbors: the Viet to the north and the Khmer to the west.

This group of Cham towers in Nha Trang is located on top of a low marble mountain formerly surrounded by the sea. Construction of the towers began in the 8th century and finished in the 12th century. The most beautiful of them were built in 813 and 817. Unfortunately, time and environmental factors have destroyed most of the towers. Now, only four remain. One of these four towers is dedicated to Shiva Hindu god. Another is dedicated to Ganesha, whose human body is attached to an elephant head. The largest tower (25m) is dedicated to Lady Po Nagar, the founder of the Cham empire which is also considered as the Goddess Uma, the wife of Shiva. The four-sided tower, built in 817 with baked bricks, has a pyramid-shaped apex. On top of the entrance is a statue of Shiva with four arms sitting on the back of a bull. The exterior of the tower is a masterpiece of chiseled carvings of fairy dancers and scenes of hunting, boat racing, and pounding rice into a mortar. The interior of the tower is reserved for the worshipping of Goddess Po Nagar, who is said to have taught people how to plant rice. It is believed that this was where the villagers held offering rituals.

Visit the Cham towers under "Sights" here

History and the Ponaga (Cham) Towers thematized at the Nha Trang Sea Festival 2011

From 1653 to the 19th century, Nha Trang was a deserted area rich in wildlife (animals like tigers) and was a part of Diên Khánh Province. After just two decades in the early 20th century, Nha Trang underwent a rapid change. On 30 August 1924, Nha Trang was decreed as a townlet. During French Indochina, Nha Trang was seen as de facto capital of Khanh Hoa Province. On 7 May 1937 Nha Trang Townlet was upgraded to town. On January 27, 1958, the town status of Nha Trang was abrogated and Nha Trang was divided into two rural communes. On October 22, 1970, Nha Trang Town was reestablished. Nha Trang Town was made the capital of Khanh Hoa Province. On March 30, 1977, Nha Trang was upgraded to city status, a county-level city under the administration of Phu Khanh Province (a province created by merger of now Phú Yên Province and Khánh Hòa Province). Seven communes of former Vĩnh Xương County, namely Vĩnh Thái, Vĩnh Ngọc, Vĩnh Hiệp, Vĩnh Lương, Vĩnh Trung, Vĩnh Thạnh, Vĩnh Phương was split from Khánh Xương County to become Nha Trang City territory. On March 27, 1978, the provincial government founded Phước Đồng Commune under Nha Trang City. On July 1, 1989, Khanh Hoa was split from Phu Khanh Province to become Khanh Hoa Province as it was before, Nha Trang was made the capital of Khanh Hoa Province. On 22 April 1999, the prime minister recognized Nha Trang City as second class municipal city. In April 2009 the prime minister signed a decision recognising Nha Trang as a first-tier city.

Origin of the name
Historically, the city was known as Kauthara under the Champa. According to some researches, the name Nha Trang derives from a false Vietnamese spelling of a geographical name in the Cham language of the site Ya Trang (lit. Reed River), the name of the now Cai River as referred to by the Cham people. From the name of this river, the name was adopted to call what is now Nha Trang, which was officially made Vietnam's territory in 1653.
As far as the recorded naming of Nha Trang is concerned, in Toàn tập Thiên Nam Tứ Chí Lộ Đồ Thư, a geographical book written by a Vietnamese scholar with the family of Đỗ Bá in the second half of the 18th century, the name Nha Trang Môn ("Nha Trang gate") was mentioned. In another map dating to the 17th century, known as Giáp Ngọ Niên Bình Nam Đồ by a noble called Đoan Quận công Bùi Thế Đạt, the name Nha Trang Hải môn (Nha Trang Sea Gate) was also cited. In Vietnamese recorded historic bibliographies, these books are perhaps the earliest ones that mentioned this place name.
In a work by Lê Quý Đôn called Phủ biên tạp lục (1776), many Nha Trang-related names were also mentioned, such as đầm Nha Trang, dinh Nha Trang, nguồn Nha Trang, and đèo Nha Trang.


Read the exclusive story about the Viet Minh commander we met in Nha Trang who inflicted the first big defeat on the French colonial army and get to know some interesting military history facts related to Vietnam here

The Vietnamese New Year (called “Tet”) is celebrated end of January or beginning of February. It’s the biggest festival in the calendar and many Vietnamese are then on the move and ...

International schools
Nha Trang is fast catching up with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where international schools have been mushrooming over the last 15 years and has now also schools with international standards, namely ...

Internet & skype
Internet access can be found in many hotels and through cheap internet cafes. The internet use of 1 hour usually costs less than 1US$. There are not that many internet cafes around now as most hotels ...

Jobs (offering and seeking)
NEW! Businesses can post job offerings free of charge. Job seekers can post a short CV free of charge.  

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