The town was named after Pallava king Narasimhavarman, who was also known by the name Mahamalla. Along with economic prosperity, it became the site of a group of royal monuments, many carved out of the living rock. These are dated to the 7th and 8th centuries: Rathas, which is the temples in the form of chariots, mandapas(cave sanctuaries), the giant open-air rock relief the Descent of the Ganges, and the Shore Temple dedicated to Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Krishna and others.
The monuments were built during 7th- and 8th-century Centuries
The bus reached around the town at 10am,we walked towards the shore Temple,which is in the intial stage, identified as part of the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram, an ancient Hindu legend referred to the origin of these divine pagodas in mythical terms. Prince Hiranyakashipu refused to worship the god Vishnu. The prince's son, Prahlada, loved and was devoted to Vishnu greatly and criticized his father's lack of faith. Hiranyakasipu banished Prahlada but then relented and allowed him to come home. Father and son quickly began to argue about Vishnu's nature. When Prahlada stated that Vishnu was present everywhere, including in the walls of their home, his father kicked a pillar. Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the form of a man with a lion's head, and killed Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada eventually became the king, and had a grandson named Bali. Bali founded Mahabalipuram on this site.The tsunami of December 2004 that struck the coastline of Coromandel exposed an old collapsed temple built entirely of granite blocks. This has renewed speculation that Mahabhalipuram was a part of the Seven Pagodas described in the diaries of Europe , of which six temples remain submerged in the sea. The tsunami also exposed some ancient rock sculptures of lions, elephants, and peacocks that used to decorate walls and temples during the Pallava period during the 7th and 8th centuries.The archaeologists believe that town extended more than its current built up area. Mamallapuram also hosts Dance Festival is held every year during Dec-Jan in the seashore. Exponents of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali perform against this magnificent backdrop of the Pallava rock sculptures. It is vibrant festival of dance where enormous audience enjoys this one month long festival.Last year Chinese President visited the place with great enthusiasm and delighted to hear the story of trade relations with China.The Makaras, the indian version of dragons is a very evident sculpture featured in pillars of Mahabalipuram.
Mamallapuram is also known by numerous names such as Mamallapattana and Mahabalipuram. Another name by which Mamallapuram has been known to mariners, since Marco Polo’s time is "Seven Pagodas" alluding to the Seven Pagodas Of Mahabalipuram that stood on the shore, of which one, the Shore of Temple,survives today.
I found so many foreigners at Mahabalipuram,in such important places of history.we find the native population very less, especially the young population. I noticed some young european girls getting flabbergasted by the information that is delivered by their guide about shore Temple, on the other hand we only find scarce amount of Indian youth there,we went to sthala shayana perumal temple and the sculpture of Krishna holding Govardhana.The intelligence of architecture will surely going to blow your mind, from the ancient Lighthouse to later vijayanagara constructions.
The caves of Mahabalipuram reflect a transitional style architecture evolved during the rule of kings Mahendra Varman I and Rajasimha or Narasimhavarman I known as Mamalla and this style was continued by his son Parameshvaravarman I. Historical research has also confirmed that Mahabalipuram town came to be established only after it was named after Mamalla and the caves and rathas are dated to his period during the year 650 AD. That Mahabalipuram was a busy port and prosperous during Mamalla's rule is attested by the fact that Xuan Zang, the explorer from China stayed here in 642 AD as a guest of the court recording the greatness of the town and its king. It is also recorded glowingly about the town's richness as seen from the loaded ships exporting goods. The caves excavated during this period though similar to the earlier caves but were more sophisticated in their decorations. The Varaha Cave temple or Mandapa has fluted columns separating the openings. The style thus created at Mahabalipuram became a forerunner for Dravidian style of architecture.
They have distinctive styles which do not compare with Gupta sculptures of North India. In these caves, the carvings of the faces of the human figures are oval shaped with high cheekbones. The body looks slim with tapering limbs. They have several striking mythological scenes carved in relief. Vishnu rescuing the earth, Vishnu taking three strides, and Gaja Laksmi and Durga are all in the Adi-Varaha Cave. Mahishasura Mardhini is in Durga Cave. Krishna lifting Mountain is seen in the Pancha-Panadava cave. The relief carving in the Pallava caves is generally shallower than the Deccan caves. The main figures are slender, delicate and elegant. Their hair dresses and crowns are simple and they show no jewellery. Another particular feature noted in the caves is that the Lingas are individual carvings and in prismatic shape. However, the drainage as normally provided in the form of Pranala or water chute with the linga to drain the Abishekha (Hindu ritual) offering water is not provided in the caves.
Descent of the Ganges , massive rock relief in mahabalipuram, This piece of excellence is more of a canvas of Indian rock cut sculpture at its best not seen anywhere in India, that were designated as a Unesco World HeritageSite since 1984.The legend depicted in the relief is the story of the descent of the sacred river Ganges to earth from the heavens led by Bhagiratha. The waters of the Ganges are believed to possess supernatural powers. The descent of the Ganges and Arjuna's Penance are portrayed in stone at the Pallava heritage site.
We were so exhausted by the climate of Mahabalipuram, we had a Tamil Nadu style meals, which contains various kinds of Poriyals sambar salt and various kolamb as they say, it was delicious. The town was not so developed they have only limited options for refreshment and accommodations. The seashores were well maintained, contains so many resorts, which runs from all along from East Coast Road to Mahabalipuram.