The Sea Port along Shore Mahabalipuram
Globally renowned for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram, this tiny sea - side village of Mahabalipuram. The sculpture, here, is particularly interesting because it shows scenes of day-to- day life. Mahabalipuram art can be divided into four categories: open air base - relief, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas (chariots). Its name ‘Mahabalipuram’ is a consequence of a legend associated with it. According to the belief, this place was under the influence of a conceited and brutal ruler Mahabali. Late on, Lord Vishnu came over the place and killed Mahabali to make people free from his fear.
Pilgrimage Attractions in Mahabalipuram Are:
Mandapas: The major hill located at Mamallapuram features pillared halls structured into the rock-face. With their intricate figure carvings and graceful columns, these Mandapas stand eyewitness to the artistic quality of the Pallava rock-cutters. The 10 pavilions with 2 unfinished ones were formed as holy place, with an outer hall and a sanctum. The shallow entrances have been embellished with exquisite figures of gods, deities and many mythological sculptures. Even today, the Ganesh mandapa has been considered a beautiful place of pilgrimage, with the statue of this elephant-god being venerated by the realistic, 14 centuries after it was first sanctified. Krishna's Butterball is known as the Varaha mandapa that is beyond the circular rock. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s two incarnations. The Mahishasuramardini Mandapa contains the idol of the Deity Durga in bas-relief, destroying a buffalo-headed evil spirit. The Mandapa of Vishnu Sayana depicts Lord Vishnu resting under Adishesha’s (the seven-headed serpent). The Panch Pandava-mandapa, which is incomplete, features a more sophisticated portico. All its pillars are embellished with rearing lions leaping from the center, and the place of worship is bounded by only a passageway that facilitates circumvolutions.
Shore Temple: Close to the sea shore, it was designed to catch the first rays of the rising sun and to illuminate the waters after dark; the temple ended up with an unusual lay-out. As the main shrine faces the sea on the east, the gateway, the fore count and the assembly hall of the Shore Temple all lie behind the sanctum. The temple has shrine both to Shiva and Vishnu. Interconnected cisterns around the temple meant that the sea could be let in to transform the temple into a water shrine. But, in recent times, a stone wall as been added to protect the shrine from the rising seas and further erosion.
Sthalasayana Perumal Temple: The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It position as the very first structure near to the ocean shore confirms the legend that it was built to save valuable sculptures from corrosion by blocking the sea waves. Flaunting beautiful architecture, the shrines in temples are dedicated to Lord Sthalasayana Perumal, Lord Nilamangai Thayaarand and Lord Narasimha.
Monolithic Temples: There are about 9 monolithic temples locally called as Rathas. The 5 rathas, the best of all the temples are hewn out of a huge boulder. Temples of different plan and elevation have been carved and the left over portions were intelligently used to carve animals in a natural way. These rathas are named after the Pandav brothers and Draupadi.
Arjun’s Penance: Is a massive open-air bas-relief monolith, which dates back to the 7th century. About 96 ft in length, it is also known as Descent of the Ganga. Arjun’s Penance is known by two names. As per one view, the massive rock sculpture has been named from Mahabharata when Arjun, one of the Pandavas, performed rigorous austerities to get Shiva's weapon and destroy his enemies. The second view is that Arjun’s Penance is a depiction of the incident when King Bhagiratha did penance to bring the River Ganges down, from heaven to earth, so as to purify the souls of his ancestors.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is Chennai International airport which is 54 km away.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Chengalpattu which is 29 km away.
By Road: Mahabalipuram is well connected with many cities with the state transport corporation buses.