Video In and Around Mahabalipuram Temple
Significance of the temple
There are two low hills in Mahabalipuram which are situated about 400 m from the sea which has eleven excavated temples on both sides, known as `Mandapas`. There is another unique type of temple standing nearby, called `Ratha`s , which have been cut out of large rocks. There are a total of five Rathas and three big sculptures of Nandi (ox of Lord Shiva), Lion and an Elephant. On the top of the bigger hill, there is a structural temple and in a little distance `Vijayanagara Gopura` is also situated.
THE SHORE TEMPLEThe shore temple is a feast of vision to the spectators and it is at the very margin of Bay of Bengal in such a way that those tidal waves sweep away its walls. This is the reason why the sculptures of this particular temple have eroded most during the last thirteen century by saline water and high breeze. The shore temple is the most appealing in sense of aesthetic value. With the rising sun spreading its golden rays and white cloud moving across the azure sky, the tower looks most fascinating.
A little to the south of the sanctam, there is a majestic lion which carries a miniature of `Mahisasurmardini` carved inside a square cavity cut in the neck of the animal. Two attended deities or women are mounted on either side of the animal. A little north to this, a beautiful dear is carved on a platform, whose head is mutilated unfortunately. In between the lion and the dear a dwarf stands, whose legs are the only remnants now.
The temple at the east is entered by a small gopura. On plan, it consists of a small sanctum and a front mandapa and is a two-tired vimana. The sanctum is housing a linga. The Somaskanda panel consisting of Siva and Parvati with baby Skanda on the back wall of the sanctum. The dhara linga and Somaskanda panel on the back wall of the sanctum are the features of the Pallava temples only.
The temple facing west is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is large in plan comprising sanctum, mahamandapa, front mandapa, balipitha and dvajastamba. The temple's vimana is four tiered with octagonal sikhara. It is important to note that stupas of both these temples are not covered by kalasa (copper finials). The carving on Lord Vishnu on a boulder in Anantasayana form is lying in between these two temples. It belongs to the period of Narasimhavarman I and thus it was earlier than the Siva temples.
TEMPLE OF STHALASAYANA PERUMALIt is situated to the north of the bigger hill. To the west of the five Rathas there are three more rathas, two of which are side by side. About 600m north of Mahabalipuram is Saluvankuppam which is situated along the coast, where there are magnificent temples excavated. Very near to it the`Tiger cave` is situated, which is a rock Mandapa and whose periphery is decorated with sculptures of tiger heads. Another structural temple, known as Mukunda Nayanar is situated two hundred metres away from sea, in between Mahabalipuram and Saluvankuppam.
Each one of such monument here be it structural temple, excavated temple, cut-out temple, open air bas relief , Mandapas are very much important in aspect to the sculpture of Pallava dynasty in South India. The celebrated open air bas relief of shore temple called as `Arjuna`s Penance` and the `Rathas` are still the wonders to the visitors' eyes. Most of the monuments here are of Pallava dynasty except the original Sthalasayana Perumal temple which was constructed in Vijayanagar times and the Mandapas belong to Chola days. This place is also a World Heritage Site marked by UNESCO.
Cave Temples were excavated by scooping out the scarp of the hill. The scooping work starts from front to back. The famous cave temple is usually divided into inner and outer mandapas, distinguished by the difference in levels. The front mandapa will have pillars and plasters numbering 4,6,8,10. The inner mandapa contains single, triple or five cells. The cave temple with this little modification is categorized as Mamalla style. The pillars under this style are slender and taller with squatting lion at their base.
The pillar is divided into distinct parts known as kalasa, tadi, kumba, padma, etc. Monolithic Temples are locally known as Rathas. They were executed by chiseling out the exterior face of the boulder. The pyramidal vimana with sikhara at the top is an important feature of this style. It can be rightly said that these monolithic temples must have paved the way for the structural temples with elaborate architectural and sculptural details in the subsequent stage. There a total number of 8 monolithic temples found in Mamallapuram. The five rathas namely the Ganesha Ratha, Valayankuttai Ratha and Pidari Rathas are in one place.
There are forty monuments of different types and art in Mahabalipuram, which also includes an open-air bas-relief that is the largest in the world. For centuries, this place has been a large attraction to pilgrimages and even today it attracts tourists of India and abroad in large numbers.
Dance Festival at Mahabalipuram
The internationally acclaimed and globally renowned "Mahabalipuram Dance Festival" is organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu every year in Mahabalipuram - the renowned and ancient 7th century centre for Pallava culture and arts. The Dance festival starts on the 25th of December every year and is conducted on all Saturdays and Government holidays, upto February first week. Dancers and musicians of repute from India and abroad thrill the crowds every year. Folk dances of India are an added attraction.
Other places to visitSit before an open-air 'stage' created 13 centuries ago, the incredible monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallavas, next to the sea in this ancient city of Mahabalipuram.
|Lovers of dance will be treated to a very unique and unforgettably aesthetic event: Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi, presented by the very best exponents of the art besides folk dances.||Nearby tourist places to Mahabalipuram Temple
Transport Facilities to the Temple
- Through Air -the city of Chennai (58-km) is the nearest airport with both domestic and international terminus. Chennai is connected with all the major places in India through the numerous domestic flights. International flights usually operate from various parts of the world to Chennai.
- Through Railways - the nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu (29-km) and Chennai (58-km). From these stations one has to take road to reach Mahabalipuram.
- Through Roadways - there are buses available from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mahabalipuram daily. The road to Mahabalipuram is good.
- Tourists can also hire a taxi from Chennai.