Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 781 AD and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam. It is dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, who came to be identified with the Hindu goddesses Bhagavati and Mahishasuramardini, and who in Vietnamese is called Thiên Y Thánh Mâu.
Po Nagar Cham is situated on Cu Lao marble hill, 2km north of Nha Trang, in Khanh Hoa Province.
A stele dated 781 AD indicates that the Cham King Satyavarman regained power in the area of "Ha-Ra Bridge", and that he restored the devastated temple. From this inscription can be deduced that the area previously had come under temporary foreign dominion, and that foreign vandals had damaged the already existing temple. Other steles indicate that the temple had contained a mukhalinga decorated with jewelry and resembling an angel's head. Foreign robbers, perhaps from Java, "men living on food more horrible than cadavers, frightful, completely black and gaunt, dreadful and evil as death" had arrived in ships, had stolen the jewelry and had broken the linga. Though the king had chased the robbers out to sea, the treasure had been lost forever. The steles also indicate that the king restored the linga in 784 AD.
A stele dated 918 AD by the Cham King Indravarman III states an order to build a golden statue to the goddess Bhagavati. Later steles report that the original statue was stolen by the Khmer, and that in 965 AD, the king replaced the lost statue with a new one. A stele dated 1050 AD says that offerings of fields, of slaves, of jewelry and of precious metals were made to the statue. Later steles indicate the celebration of a cult in honor of the goddess Yan Po Nagar, as well as the presence of statues dedicated to the principal deities of Hinduism and Buddhism.
In the 17th century, the Viet people occupied Champa and took over the temple tower, calling it Thiên Y Thánh Mâu Tower. A number of Vietnamese legends regarding the goddess and the tower have come into being.
Po Nagar Cham Towers were built between the 8th and 13th centuries. The largest of the four remaining towers was built in honor of the Goddess Po Nagar, also known as Lady Thien Y Ana or Lady Mother of the Kingdom.
She spent part of her life in teaching new weaving and agricultural techniques. The 22.5m tower contains her sandstone statue sitting cross-legged on lotus-shaped stone estrade. The statue is 2.6m high (including the Yoni-shaped stone pedestal). The statue has ten hands, eight of which each holding a specific object illustrating the intellect and power of her. The remaining towers were dedicated to different gods: the southeast tower, the northwest tower and the south tower.
Not only are the towers famous for their architecture and sculpture, but they are also well-known for their great significance in history, nationalism, and archaeology.
Standing on the top of the hill, one can admire the beautiful landscapes of the coastal region of Nha Trang.