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Sep, 6 2012


After almost a month ( got time to write the blog only after 2 months) a chance to visit 2nd Unesco World Heritage Site and chose to visit Mahabalipuram. Actually it was possible as I could club it with a trip to Pondicherry with a couple of my friends. As usual most of them ditched and finally only 3 of us could travel.

Me and Lavanya started from Hyderabad and Liz started from Kochi on 8th June 2012. All of us reached Chennai next day morning, thanks to Liz since she reached early she spoke to a couple of travel agents and finally bargained and booked a cab for Rs.4200/- to and fro – Chennai to Pondy enroute Mahabalipuram.

Originally the plan was to stop by Mahabalipuram (which was just 40 kms ) freshen up, visit the place and then reach Pondy.Little did we realize until the driver told us that he is not taking us on that route. Had to head directly to Pondy, stayed there for a day and on return trip we stopped at Mahabalipuram.

We reached Mahabs around 12.30 noon and as expected the Sun was at its best forcing us to buy hats before even buying the entry ticket. It was then we realized that the Camera battery got discharged and had to depend of I Phone, hence couldn’t take too many pics.

Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. This is an elegant place to watch which a well established sea port was during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty. This was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled Kanchipuram.

The richness in Mahabalipuram was not known to many, as these pallavas did not outlet and expose their quality and innovative creations to the outer world for obvious reasons. The aestheticism in Mahabalipuram was hidden until the late. What is special about Mahabalipuram? Of course every one can point out the rock – cut caves, temples made from a single rock, temples and strives of different structures, and bas-reliefs which are so artistic and sheer creativity. Mamallpuram is referred as an ‘open-air museum’. The great pallava kings Narasimha I and Rajasimha have well preserved these stylistic qualities that one enjoys in Mahabalipuram even in the present day.


The five Rathas is a set of magnificent monolithic rock temples. Panch is a Hindi world which means ‘Five’. These fine rock temples are located in a sandy compound. These five Rathas are the perfect examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. There are built in the shape of pagodas and they look similar to that of the Buddhist shrines and monasteries. There chariots are constructed with Towers, The cars of gods, multipillared halls, and sculptured walls which are chissled out minutely.


This is located at the entrance gate, which is spectacular and simple, shaped like a hut and is dedicated to goddess Durga. Female door – keepers stand on the either ride of the Rath, one holding a bow and another, a sword. At the eastern wall a bas-relief stands portraying Goddess Durga standing on lotus and two worshippers at here feet offering flowers and one of the person’s head respectively. Energy other walls have the figure of the great goddess, and at the front of the temple is a Lion’s figure, which is the celestial vehicle to the Goddess.


The next Rath is the Arjuna’s Rath. This one is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This has a small portico and carved pillar stones. Inside the shrine there are no inscriptions or figures whereas on the outer walls. There are carvings of gods and humans. A panel on the4 northern wall is carved with two door-keepers. Beautiful carvings of Lord Vishnu and a Garuda on One panel and the other panel with a couple. The eastern wall is carved with a double Dwarka-Palaks, in the middle wall the portrait of Lord Indra riding an elephant, a log standing of the left with has disciples and two beautiful women are perfectly chissled out. These beautiful carvings hare been praised by many poets. There is also a figure of Nandi bull – which is still left unfinished.


In front of Arjuna’s Rath is the Nakula – Sahadev Rath. This is a double decored building, dedicated to Lord Indra – the God of Rain. As in Greek and Roman mythologies, where there are different gods for various aspects and qualified, the Indian mythologies too lane assigned specific gods for different aspects. There is some proof depicting this Ratha to which might have been dedicated to Subramanya associated with elephants. The elephants shaped sculptures face towards the sea. One who eaters the Panch Rathas, can visualize the back portion of the elephants and it named as Gajaprishthakara which means elephant’s back side. The elephant sculptures are huge and are highlights of the Panch Raths.


This Ratha is faced towards west and this is laid third of the Rathas. The shrine is gorgeous as it measures 42 ft in length, 24ft in width and 25ft in height. The pillars are lion carved whereas the other parts are plain. This Ratha too is an incomplete one. In the epic Mahabharata Bhima the huge guy is bulky and strong he is fond of eating all the time.

Of all the five Rathas, this last one stands huge. It is named after the eldest of the pandavas. Innovative and well carved designs can be seen in this Rath. This resembles the Arjuna’s Rath and it is a perfect example to the later built South Indian Temples. This Rath is also dedicated to Lord Shiva like that of Arjuna’s Rath. The ground floor is in complete. Above the ground floor stands minutely designed double floor. The peculiarity in this monumental construction is that there is no stair route from the ground floor to the first floor, but, there in stairs from the first floor to the second floor. There are eight panels in the ground floor. One panel is carved with the portrait of the kind and the rest with gods and goddesses. On one particular wall the figure of shiva is named ‘Ardhanariswarar’ which is the mixture of Shiva and Shakti. This is very attractive as one can find the manly structure and the luring female charm. Other portrayals show lord shiva as ‘Bhikshatana’ – meaning cosmic designer and the god of death.

Twenty two carves are found on the first floor. There is no central pasteurization in the first floor. The portrait of lord Krishna dancing on top of the fierce kaliya snake is depicted on the southern wall. Lord Vishnu’s portrayal is found on the Northern wall. Carving of a bearded ascetic holding a bell in his hands, a devotee with a tuft, holding a flower basket, a temple attendant with bunch of keys and carrying offering to god are marvelously inscribed. The second floor is well carved. Figures of Dakshinamurthy, somaskanda, the sun the moon and other worshippers all found in this floor.


The only completed sculpture of the fine Rathas is the Ganesh Rath. This lies west to the Bhim Rath and it resembles the Arjuna Penance. It was earlier dedicated to lord shiva and now it is a shrine of Ganesha. There was a lingam structure earlier and now an idol of lord Ganesha has been replaced the pallavas did not stop with there fine Raths but they went on to build more sculptures of them four are found lying on the outskirts of mahabalipuram. Two Raths which lie side by side on the way to Tirukkalakundram are named as Pidari Rathas. To the south of these two Rathas lies the Valayankuttai Rath and the fourth one which lies opposite to the Mahishasura Mardini Mandap is nameless.

The beauty of the place is not only due to these architecture but the vast casuarinas trees, the silvery sandy beach the classical hand male crafts around have made them all to form what is a collective splendor. Any visitor who visits mahabalipuram will remain startled and intoxicated with the grandeur. They feel hand hearted and more out from this historical and fascinating tourist spot.


It is believed that there were seven magnificent temples what are known as the seven pagodas, built near the sea share. But the lonely survivor is the shore temples. It was originally constructed during the 7th century and later it was Narasimha Varman II, (Rajasimha) completed the skilled work in his rule. This is one of the oldest of the south Indian Temples which were structural temples constructed in the nature Dravidian style. This shore temple has gained popularity and tourists gather here because it has been listed among the world heritage sites of the UNESCO. The temple is full of designs made by carvings.

There are three temples of which two Shiva Temples face east and west respectively. The other one is the Vishnu Temple. The Vishnu temples were built by Narasimha Varman I and the other two were built by Narasimha Varman II. One can find the beautifully carved twin Dwarka Palaks (gate keepers) at the entrance of the east facing Shiva Temples. On both sides of the temple inside are the marvelous sculptures of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu with their better halves. The top part of the Shivalinga figure inside the temple is found damaged. There are sculptures of Somaskanda – lord Shiva with his better half, Parvati, and his sons, Skanda and Ganesha are found on the near wall. Apart from Lord Shiva’s sculpture, one can find the sculptures of Narasimha and Goddess Durgha also.

The central shrine is in the form of a rectangle. It has a magnificent statue of lord Vishnu which is known as Sthala Shayana Perumal or Ananthasayana which means sleeping Vishnu. The peculiarity about this particular temple is – Vishnu reclines on the floor listening silently the sounds of names. The figure of Vishnu is found in segments which are to be looked through various doors. The other sculpture is portrayed in such a may that Lord Vishnu seated in mount Garuda helping Gajendra, the elephant, found in the southern wall and the northern wall is the portrayals from the life of lord Krishna. The grand temple is surrounded by mandapas and compound walls. There is a rock-cut of a lion rode by two young women. The lion has a small cut, a square shaped cut in its belly. A Huge rock near by the temple has been the target of the waves to touch it from the ancient days. There is also a carving of a buffalo demon running with a stick in his hand, located in the northern side. The temple looks beautiful due to the lights during weekend evenings.

After getting roasted in the Sun,time to fuel up the body.

Thanks to Liz for suggesting us to Stop over for lunch at MOON RAKERS Restaurant near Main Bus Stand.Best place for Sea Food lovers like me.Great food at affordable price.We ate as if we were starving for ages.Then started back to Chennai.

For people not living in Chennai,its better to Club Mahabalipuram with Pondy for a great weekend trip,the drive through the ECR is definitely worth your strenuous journey. Bharathi AddepalliUncategorizedasia,Bharathi,gounesco,heritage,india,Mahabalipuram,pondicherry,shore temple,Tamil Nadu,temple,travel,world heritage travel
  After almost a month ( got time to write the blog only after 2 months) a chance to visit 2nd Unesco World Heritage Site and chose to visit Mahabalipuram. Actually it was possible as I could club it with a trip to Pondicherry with a couple of my friends....