The Dong Duong Buddhist College, a National Heritage site, would be given back its splendid beauty, a conference on the preservation of cultural relics in central Quang Nam province was told.

As one of the largest centres in Southeast Asia , the Buddhist college, located in a jungle, is now in ruins. Sang tower, one of the last remaining vestiges, is close to toppling down, enforced by rotten wood alone.

"I am afraid that the tower would not be able to withstand heavy rains," Nguyen Thuong Hi, who spends a great deal of time on preservation work in the province, said.

Architect Hoang Dao Kinh, who carried out a study on the college, said: "While it is believed that restoration work on the My Son towers created a lot of difficulties for both local and international experts, restoring the Dong Duong Buddhist College might be even more difficult."

Kinh continued by saying that the most urgent objective centred on keeping current vestiges in tact.

"I first visited the relic 30 years ago, having been enthralled by photos of it published by the French," Kinh explained.

The less we intervene, the easier the Buddhist College will be recognised as a world cultural heritage site, he added.

Tran Minh Ca, vice-chairman of the provincial People's Committee, said that scientific research would be carried out on the relic aimed at preserving and restoring it to again become a significant spiritual and cultural attraction.

Truong Quoc Binh, a member of the National Council for Cultural Heritage, explained that the Buddhist College was founded by King Indravarman II in 875 and played a central part in Indrapura, the capital city of the Champa Kingdom .

The Dong Duong Buddhist College is situated in Binh Dinh Bac Commune of Quang Nam Province 's Thang Binh District. In 1902, a French architect-cum-archaeologist H. Parmentier first excavated the Dong Duong relic, discovering its main shrine and many precious sculptural work. It is described that the main shrine and neighbouring towers are arranged from west to east with a length of 1,300m. The main shrine is located in a rectangular area, which is 326m in length and 155m in width.

Most of the sculptural work is on display at the Da Nang Museum of Champa Sculpture and contains elements of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism from the last half of the ninth century.

Based on its cultural and historical value, the culture ministry recognised the Buddhist College as a National Heritage site on September 21, 2000./.