Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu

Mahabalipuram is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is around 60 km south from the city of Chennai. It is an ancient historic town and was a bustling seaport during the time of Periplus (1st century CE) and Ptolemy (140 CE). Ancient Indian traders who went to countries of South East Asia sailed from the seaport of Mahabalipuram.
By the 7th century it was a port city of South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas. It has a group of sanctuaries, which was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries : rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous 'Descent of the Ganges', and the Shore Temple, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It has an average elevation of 12 metres (39 feet). The modern city of Mahabalipuram was established during the British Raj in 1827.

According to local guides, the first name was Kațalmalai meaning "The land between the mountain and the sea" in Tamil. The second name was Mämalläpuram meaning "The land of the great wrestler" as the region was ruled by the Pallavan King Narsimhavarman who was known for his strength. The third name was and is still there is Mahabalipuram meaning "The land of Mahabali". According to legends, he was the grandson of the devotee Prahalada.
[The above details are taken from wikipedia.]

Sculptures at Mahabalipuram repesenting elephants, soldiers, monks, nagas, other citizens and some other animals.
If you observe the left bottom of the pic, you can find that a person has joined his hands for respecting elephant.

Just below the elephants, you can see lotus petals like sculptures which were not fully carved.

Here are the Buddhist monasteries. Just above the pillars, you can see different types of sculptures which represent some temple/chaityagruha and stupa structures.

A tank like structure near the monasteries.

See the similarity and differences of Naga sculpture at Mahabalipuram(Tamilnadu) and Konark(Odisha).

The snake is 7 headed in both the sculptures but the tail portion is different. And the faces also differ as the sculptors of different places used to make it based on the faces of the kings or the people of that place.
4 - Nagas.jpg

Mucalinda Buddha statues too have 7 headed snake.

It is known locally as "Krishna's butter ball"...

The structure of the tub shows how good the ancient drilling/sculpting technology was there.


The marks show how the rocks were cut in old times.


It is known locally as "Bhima's stove". As the saying goes:When Bhima (from Mahabharata) stayed here, he used to put the pan over these rocks and cook.


View of Krishna's butter ball through Bhima's stove...


Stairs carved on rock...



Rayar Gopuram:
The pillar in this structure, contains the sculptures of Dasabataras.
Based on Puranas, the below are the abataras which depict the evolution of life.
1) Meena/Matsya/Machha - Fish (Living in water - Aquatic)
2) Kurma/Kachhapa - Tortoise (Living in land and water - Amphibious)
3) Sukara/Baraha - Boar (Living on land - Mammal)
4) Narahari - ManLion (Humanitarian Evolution)
5) Bamana - Dwarf man (He is considered as a early human who is a traveller or a wandering monk. So it means that he does not know how to kill and eat and so dependent on wandering and take what he gets)
6) Bhrugupati - Parasurama (Early human using Parasu Sastra (Weapons to be held in hand and not used for throwing purpose). He is represented as a saint who is a fighter as well)
7) Rama - A king and a fighter. Mark of civil society (He uses Bow and Arrow which is called Astra ("Weapons to be held in hand and then thrown" - the next step of weapons)
8) Haladhara - Balarama (A person who can do farming as well as fighting)
9) Buddha - A king and fighter who can change himself to a saint and preacher
10)Kalki - Final destoyer



As the saying goes: While making the sculptures, the image of Haladhara/Balarama was made before Rama which is wrong.
The archer (for hunting) should be definitely before the farmer (for grain/food cultivation).
But the sequence of avataras became wrong and so they abandoned the complete structure.
This concept might be wrong.
But if it is true, then it tells that how perfectionist our ancient generation were.


Shore temple:



[Yet to be completed]


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