Thursday, 11 July 2013

Visit to Mahabalipuram - Part I

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a small coastal town in Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu. It is situated about 60 km south of Chennai on Coromandel Coast. Buses & taxis are available from Chennai & Pondicherry. East Coast Road has made the travel easier. The road is scenic but a little riskier as there is no divider in the middle & traffic is fast.

Average elevation of town is 39 feet above sea level. Weather is hot & humid throughout the year, though pleasant in November to February. Total land area is 8 sq km & population 12000. 
Mamallapuram village is listed as a World Heritage site & is famous for stone carvings. Lot of artisans can be found working on exquisite stone statues, religious idols & sculptures.
It is an ancient historic town & was a sea port having trading contacts with Romans & South East Asia & Sri Lanka. Chinese & Roman coins have been found in excavations. After decline of Gupta dynasty Pallavas flourished. It was business capital of Pallavas of Kanchipuram during seventh century.  It was originally named Mahabalipuram after an arrogant & cruel king Mahabali who was killed in a fierce battle by Lord Vishnu. Later it was named city of Mammalla (meaning a great wrestler), the title of great Pallva king Narsimha Varman I.
It was also known to mariners as land of Seven Pagodas. All but one of such seven temples has disappeared in the sea. Last one is called Shore Temple. Another local name is Kadal Malai-Sea Mountain. 

 Lord Krishna has lifted Govardhan & people are taking shelter 
All the cows & people at ease under the Govardhan 

Krishna Mandapam front elevation. Fourth pillar from left has no lion. This pillar was broken during excavation & a plain pillar was placed by the British in 1924.
Cave dwellings for Pandavas & Draupadi
Meditation Chamber
In olden times when a large boulder like this one above, was to be cut or split on a particular line, such small holes were drilled & wood packed in to them. Thereafter the wood was soaked by pouring water. Wood expanded & caused cracks on the marked places. The process is said to take three / four months. It was then easier for artisans to work on it.
This small pool is at the top of the hill. Guide informed that Roman & Chinese coins were found during excavation in this well. It has since been filled up & closed.
This pillar is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Ten circles indicate his ten incarnations each of which has been engraved in the individual circles
This stone has been nick named Butter Ball as butter was favourite of Lord Krishna. During excavation in 1924, British tried to move it with the help of five elephants but it did not budge. It has withstood vagaries of nature for hundreds of years. 

Lion's den - one in stone is still sitting there

Lighthouses. The left pillar was made by Britishers & on the right ancient one looking like a hut. They used to burn wood in this hut during the night to make it a lighthouse 
Roman & Chinese figures add  twist to the historical sculpture

Some structures are left incomplete
Another incomplete structure
11 day old calf with mother. Seems as if some work was still to be done

Said to be used for churning of milk
Buddhist style stupa 

                                                                                         ...... contnd in Part II.
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