Mahabalipuram- the strength and the legacy of the Stone Gods

Mahabalipuram, the name itself audios great power and strength; and if you really want to discover Gods in the stone, definitely Mahabalipuram will bring that miracle happens. Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram is best known for the stone carved temples all around the shore of the Bay of Bengal. The name Mamallapuram was being given to this place after the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I took on the epithet Maha Malla (the great wrestler). The place became the favorite spot for the wrestlers as well as was the ideal location for the great historic monuments including the stone temples during 7th and 9th centuries which is today recognized as the world heritage site.

Photo by- Lakshmi Sharath

Hardly 160 km away from Chennai; is this one of the ancient places where the first European explorers reached. This place, where the stone Gods are being identified, were the creations of the Pallavas. Mahendra Varma Pallava who called himself a “Vichitrachitra” that means a unique artist, gave life to their artistic creations in the form of stone gods. Pallavas, who were very powerful and profound thinkers made the unique creations above 200 years ago and created life in the dead stones. This world heritage site also refers to an open air museum to the student of sculpture and architecture.

The Mahabalipuram that blusters many rock cut carvings and amazements including:

  • Rock cut caves
  • Monolithic monuments- made up of the single rock
  • Bas-relief- structure that protrudes from the rock and
  • Shore temple- The last creations of the Pallavas.

They cohesively were called the seven pagodas of Mahabalipuram out of which the Shore Temple is the most prominent landmark of Mahabalipuram that mentions the works of the ancient mariners, historians and the travelers. It is the structured monuments raised by putting different stones together. The 3rd Pallava King, Rajasimha wanted to do something extraordinary and unique from his father and forefathers; and he indeed did this by creating the Shore Temple. The shore temple brings about three temples out of which two are dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other to Vishnu. The temple is designed to catch the first raise of the rising sun and the main shrine faces the sea, the Bay of Bengal in the east.

Photo by Lakshmi Sharath

Apparently, when Tsunami hit in 2004, the furious waves led to the discovery of an open air auditorium just beside the shore temple, one of the most beautiful creations of Mahabalipuram. Besides this, unfortunately some of the parts of the Pallava Temple are being submerged into the sea due to Tsunami waves.

The most significant part of the pagodas in Mahabalipuram is the chariot temple dedicated to the major characters of Mahabharata including the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi. These five monoliths (chariots) temples were carved in a single rock and resemble the professional chariots (rathas) of a temple out of which some of the temples are three storied (the Dharmaraja Ratha) and some are one storied (the Draupadi Ratha).

Major Attractions of Mahabalipuram :

  • The Shore Temple
  • The Chariot Temple
  • The Sculpture Museum
  • The Crocodile Farm

Best time to visit the Pagodas in Mahabalipuram: November to March

Nearest Airport: Chennai Airport

Photo by Lakshmi Sharath

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One thought on “Mahabalipuram- the strength and the legacy of the Stone Gods

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