I am posting a series of pics on the Pallava temples and sculptures at Mahabalipuram, about 50 km south of Chennai on the east coast. Today it is a small town with tourism as its mainstay.
Once, about 2,000 years ago it was a major seaport.
Some details from a publication by the Archaeolgical Survey of India, which says it has been famous as a sea port and has been mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraen Sea written by an unknown Greek navigator in the first century -
“The modern name Mahabalipuram is derived from Mamallapuram, `the city of Mamalla,’ a title of Narasimhavarma I (630 – 670), a great Pallava ruler of the seventh century, who was responsible for most of the rock-cut teples and carvings at the place.”
“The Pallavas –
The monuments at Mahabalipuram owe their origin to the Pallava rulers of south India, who came into existence in the third – fourth century and ruled from their capital at Kanchi.”
The book categorises the monuments into four groups. They are: monoliths – temples cut out of solid rock; caves – excavated from the hills; temples – built up masonry temples (with richly carved sculptures); and sculptured scenes carved on the hill sides.
So this series of pics over the next few weeks will follow this format. The first will be of the Shore Temple – the third in the above category – the masonry temple.
A Note: The East Coast Road leading to Mahabalipuram from Chennai makes it a great drive – if you drive cautiously and allow for the mad driving of some of the maniacs who get on to that road. It is important that people choose a pleasant day to get there. During summer it can get quite hot and humid.