A Heritage Walk Through Mahabalipuram In Tamil Nadu
About Mamallapuram - The Shore TownMahabalipuram presently known Mamallapuram is a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu. It is around 60 Km from the capital city of Chennai. As per legends the town derived its name from King Mahabali and the word 'puram' is the word used for dwelling in all the four South Indian languages. According to other thoughts, the town might have got its name from the Pallava King Narasimha Varman I who was a great wrestler. The Telugu word 'Malla' (Malla Yudham) means wrestling and hence the name . This is a popular weekend getaway for the people of Chennai and for the other nearby locals. Mamallapuram is an archaeologist's delight as it is a treasure-trove of heritage sites and is an ancient port city from the times of Ptolemy. In the ancient times trade was carried through sea route with South Asian countries and also with Romans.
The place was referred as 'The Land of Seven Pagodas' by the ancient mariners. The stone carvings of the Heritage Sites speak volumes about the history and culture of South India. It was a prominent centre for art and literature during the period from 3rd century to 7th century CE (Current Era). It was also a bustling seaport during the 1st century CE and presently it is popular for heritage tourism and heritage walks
The shore town of Mamallapuram was built by Pallava King Narasimhavarman I and is rich in stone carvings on uncut rocks, rock-cut sculptures and chariot temples. The town experiences a tropical climate and remains hot and humid through out the year. It is good to start early in the morning for heritage walks. Tourists feel drained off and dehydrated with long walks in the hot sun.
In spite of the greenery all around, the weather is not supportive and it is terrible hot and sultry in the daytime.
Shore Temple is a non-working temple and is just a heritage site. It is one of the Group of Monuments of Mahabalipuram and is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. The temple dates back to the 8th century CE and is built of blocks of granite stone. During 2004 tsunami, an old collapsed temple entirely made of granite blocks was exposed at this place which is considered as a part of the Seven Pagodas besides the present Shore temple which is only surviving Pagoda of the Seven Pagodas.
After spending some time walking all around the temple and enjoying the sea view, we walked up the steep rocky stairs and entered inside the small 'grabha griha' (sanctorum). The inner wall of this place has carving of Shiva and Parvati in sitting posture.
After spending some time here we walked out and had refreshing buttermilk from a local vendor. There is a narrow sandy way leading to the beach with a row of shops on the right and Shore Temple to the left. Every year Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is organised by the Dept of Tourism, Tamil Nadu Govt during December / January every year.