Mamallapuram

Mamallapuram | Tamilnadu | India
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Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, is a town on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s known for its temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. The seafront Shore Temple comprises 3 ornate granite […]

Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, is a town on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s known for its temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. The seafront Shore Temple comprises 3 ornate granite shrines. Krishna’s Butter Ball is a massive boulder balanced on a small hill near the Ganesha Ratha stone temple. The History of  Mamallapuram is Neolithic burial urn, cairn circles and jars with burials dating to the very dawn of the Christian era have been discovered near Mamallapuram.

The Sangam age poem Perumpanarruppatai relates the rule of King Thondaiman Ilam Thiraiyar at Kanchipuram of the Tondai Nadu port Nirppeyyaru which scholars identify with the present-day Mamallapuram. Chinese coins and Roman coins of Theodosius I in the 4th century CE have been found at Mamallapuram revealing the port as an active hub of global trade in the late classical period. Two Pallava coins bearing legends read as Srihari and Srinidhi have been found at Mamallapuram. The Pallava kings ruled Mamallapuram from Kanchipuram; the capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 3rd century to 9th century CE, and used the port to launch trade and diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

An 8th-century Tamil text written by Thirumangai Alvar described this place as Sea Mountain ‘where the ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden as they were with wealth, big trunked elephants and gems of nine varieties in heaps’. It is also known by several other names such as MAMALLAPATINAM and Mamallapuram. Another name by which Mamallapuram has been known to mariners, at least since Marco Polo’s time is “Seven Pagodas” alluding to the Seven Pagodas of Mamallapuram that stood on the shore, of which one, the Shore Temple, survives. The temples of Mapuram, portraying events described in the Mahabharata, were built largely during the reigns of Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman and show the movement from rock-cut architecture to structural building. The city of Mamallapuram was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD.

The mandapaor pavilions and the rathas or shrines shaped as temple chariots are hewn from the granite rock face, while the famed Shore Temple, erected half a century later, is built from dressed stone. What makes Mamallapuram so culturally resonant are the influences it absorbs and disseminates. The Shore Temple includes many reliefs, including one 100 ft. long and 45 ft. high, carved out of granite.

Map of Mamallapuram