Explore Thap Banh It

Along National Highway 1A, heading north to south, past the Ba Di Bridge in the vicinity of Dai Loc Hamlet, Phuoc Hiep Commune, Tuy Phuoc District, Binh Dinh Province, stands out against the blue sky are the ancient towers on a hill to the left. Upon the French’s study of this architectural complex, the towers were named Tour d’Argent (Silver Tower), yet the locals have long referred to them as the Bánh Ít Towers. This is the largest surviving group of Champa ancient towers remaining in Binh Dinh.

The Bánh Ít Tower complex was constructed approximately 1,000 years ago, during the reigns of the two kings, Harivarman IV and V, representing the transitional period of Champa architecture styles from My Son A1 to Binh Dinh styles. The cluster originally had four spires, but based on remaining traces, there were more structures here, now in ruins. The sloping hill faces towards the east. On the path to the main tower, one passes by remnants of two layers of brick and stone walls, resembling a gateway. Beyond the gate is a courtyard, where traces of the surrounding wall protecting the central area remain.

The main tower (on the right) stands approximately 20m tall at the hilltop, with a square base, each side measuring 11m. The tower is decorated quite beautifully. The tower’s body consists of 5 slender columns, with most of the ornamentation concentrated at the entrance. The main door faces east, protruding about 2m from the wall’s surface. The door arch is shaped like a double-layered pointed hat with intertwined spiral patterns. In the center of the arch is a kala motif. The main door is also adorned with bas-reliefs depicting Ganesha (the elephant-headed deity symbolizing happiness and good luck) and Hanuman (the monkey deity).

The southern tower adjacent to the main tower is approximately 12m long, 5m wide, and 10m tall. The roof of the tower is boat-shaped (or saddle-shaped), concave in the middle and arching upwards at both ends, resembling the roof of a communal house of the Central Highlands people. The tower’s body is decorated with bas-reliefs of human figures, animals, birds, and floral patterns.

Two other subsidiary towers were constructed with distinct architectural styles, showcasing the diversity and richness of the Bánh Ít tower complex. Pictured here is the gate tower, behind which is the main tower and the boat-roofed tower in the distance.

Standing in the tower courtyard, on a scorching June day, what remains with visitors is the feeling of a timeless pause amidst the vastness of the earth and sky. Below the hill is a rural village, a stream. Above, the endless blue sky and the scorching sun.

Standing beside these thousand-year-old towers, amidst the moss-covered walls, with vivid statues and lively bas-reliefs depicting Champa’s ancient beliefs and aesthetic senses, amidst the quietness of the mountains and hills, with only the sound of wind rustling in the ears and occasionally the strange chirping of the local bird called “to le,” the squeaking of bats nesting on the tower’s peak… Visitors experience profound contemplative moments.

In terms of artistic works, among the remaining Cham tower relics in Vietnam, Bánh Ít is a unique architectural complex, a site of high artistic value. Currently, all valuable artifacts have been moved to museums for display. Mr. Dung, a guard at the Bánh Ít Towers, mentioned that when he was younger, there were statues and worship items in the towers. Nowadays, the towers are no longer places of worship as before, yet occasionally, people come to light incense.