Mahabalipuram – Historical imprints in stone
Mahabalipuram Top Historical Attractions
Adi Varaha Perumal Cave temple, Lighthouse and Mahisasurmardini Mandapa
We also have the Trimurti cave out here dedicated to the trinity of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. One can also see the lighthouse built by the Pallavas which was India’s oldest lighthouse built in 640 AD that used to be functional in the early days to warn mariners about the close proximity to the land. This is an ASI monument now and has been replaced with a more modern lighthouse which stands adjacent to it .
Descent of the Ganges
Just a short walk, to the left of Arjuna’s penance we have the Krishna Mandapam. It is also a bas-relief and was carved during the same time. In this cave we have carvings depicting Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain to protect his devotees as the famous tale goes. This is the largest rock cut temple out here.#KrishnaMandapamMahabalipuram
The Shore Temple is located on the Bay of Bengal shoreline and as the legend goes it is one the surviving structure of the seven pagodas. Built between 700 and 728 CE, this indeed portrays the build strategy and expertise level achieved during those times. It is so constructed that the sun rays fall on the idol of Lord Shiva (Shiva Linga ) in the main inner sanctum in the east facing shrine.
There are three main shrines out there with two dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu. Actually, with the excavations which have been done, it is very much possible that this temple would have been a part of a larger complex of temples that might have got lost over a period of time. The entire temple is embellished with intricate bas-reliefs. There have been new shrines and miniature temples too which have been excavated within the main temple complex. Also unique is the series of Nandi’s which are sculpted all over the retaining boundary wall of the main temple which lend a unique perspective to the shrine. There are various other sculptures that adorn the walls of the temple and its just we as a normal traveller do not have the understanding of what they mean as well their relation to the main shrine. The temple is a classic example of a monolithic structure with intricate carved structures and is a part of the UNESCO world heritage site and hence care and support to preserve the temple is being undertaken in detail. #ShoreTempleMahabalipuram
Krishna’s Butter Ball
Perched on a steep hill, this massive round boulder has been defying the pull of gravity and nature over the centuries. It appears to have stopped midway in its journey down and now sits on a smooth rocky slope and draws hordes of visitors who try their utmost might to roll it down.The local name is “Vaan Irai Kal” however it is popularly known as Krishna’s Butter Ball based on the local folklore and legends intermixed with mythological tales. It is one of the sites to visit in case one is visiting Mahabalipuram.#KrishnaButterBallMahabalipuram
Today Mahabalipuram is poised to project itself as a archaeological and historical sea side beach town with upmarket resorts as well as budget accommodation. The local populace have realised the importance of tourism and hence do their bit also to preserve the various sculptures and monuments that are scattered all over the place. In case one is visiting Chennai do make it a point to drop in at Mahabalipuram and experience this wonder from India’s heritage past.
- From a photography point of view, the best time to visit the shore temple would be in the evening in order to capture the essence of the sunset. The other monuments too would need to be visited prior mid-morning or post early afternoon as the heat would build-up would be quite substantial in the intervening time.
- There are numerous cafes as well as traditional restaurants that have come up which cater to almost every taste bud.
- One would need to hire an auto-rickshaw in order to travel between the monuments in case there is no pre hired cab/personal vehicle available.
- There are a collection of museums notable among them being the Indian Heritage, Seashell and Sculpture Museum which can be visited during the late morning or early afternoon when the heat does not permit for a visit to the various monuments described above