Mammllapuram: The Ultimate destination of Rock-Cut Shore Temples

Gopal Lahiri

Photo Feature by Gopal Lahiri

Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, is the ultimate place for the curious mind- young or old alike. It’s a place full of echoes of a past that still retains it old order charm. Known for the temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries, the UNESCO listed Mahabalipuram is located at a distance of 60 km from Chennai and is right on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. This erstwhile port town is famous for its incredible views of sea shore and the splendid rock-cut shore temples.

Our journey along the east coast road from Covelong beach to Mahabalipuram was really exciting with occasional glimpses of the Coromondal coast fringed with coconut palm trees.

We walked along the wide stretch of the coast in the afternoon. Our run past the sea shore was quite exhilarating: with the trees whizzing by and the wind blowing past, and an amazing feeling of flying. And sometimes, when we were not in a rush, we paused, and took a long breathe, and soaked in the scene. On a still day, the gleaming sculpture of the temples were eye-catching and we were struck with awe.

The seafront Shore Temples comprise three ornate granite shrines. The ornate structure of granite shrines, the emotional icon for many devotees was as much an artefact of historical importance as the artefacts inside the temple.

Equally as impressive as the shore temple is the peripheral courtyard whose sun-flooded space is the real inspiration for the instaphotos.

The past comes to live at the first sight of these amazing temples and gives this place a sort of hushed spirituality. The mixture of various styles, cast in ancient grey stone, and lost in the mysterious silence of the history, is something worth experiencing.

It is, without doubt, one of the most impressive landmarks and the architectural flourishes is truly spectacular.

The exploring of the place under hot sun was quite an undertaking. This unflashy town has all the ingredients of a tourist joint, like sea, sand, ancient temples, rock sculpture, museum, curios shops etc and always a great place of back packers.

Not much of a crowd were there under the merciless sun but there was always a buzz about the places like, The Krishna Mandapam, Pancha Pandava Cave, Descent of the Ganges, Arjunas penance, Moon rakers and Ganesha Ratha Temple.

Pancha Rathas was a spectacular monument depicting the monolithic Indian rock architecture.

In this surround of Great monuments, you always realize that the ultimate secrets lie in the intricate work on the rock carvings.

There is always an urge to locate the point of reality that will hold the historical thread and untangle the truth behind this marvellous art work.

The star attraction was the spectacle of the massive spiritual boulder called, ‘Krishna’s butter ball’ delicately balanced on a low altitude hillock near Ganesha Ratha stone temple.

There was no need always to stick to the monuments and temples only. We walked up to the lighthouse over a hillock and had a great view of Mammalapuram.

This non-descript town has also housed a lovely sea-shell museum which is really a marvel. It’s hard to miss the slick sea shell museum which contains eclectic collection of sea shell of various shapes and sizes, beautiful pearls, fish aquarium and curios.

This place is indeed a riot of blue colour reflecting the underwater ambiance.

Mahabalipuram has everything under one roof -Waves and walks: the alluring rock-cut temple and the ancient sculpture. One must visit here to soak into history, art, the amazing rock-sculpture and heritage.

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