Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Slice of History

There are times when you visit a place you really get the feeling that if presented with a time travel machine, you would like to travel to back to an era at the same location and see how things were back then. On a recent trip to Mahabalipuram or Mammallapuram I had a similar thought. Standing on top of it's hillocks, and exploring its "known" secrets I couldn't help but think "what if".

Mahabalipuram hosts excellent specimens of early Pallava art around 680-720 AD. The Pallavas were the then rulers of the land and used Mahabalipuram as a port city. The sculptures consists of Monolithic carvings, Reliefs, Excavated carvings. The most notable of them all are the five rathas (chariots), said to be carved out of a single stone. The rathas are dedicated to the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi. The different styles of chariots allows one to understand the designs that the sculptures back then used. The excavated caves/mandapas (ones built into the stone) are present about a kilometre away. The temple of Govardhandhari and Ramanuja Mandapa shows the showcases craftsmanship and perhaps engineering expertise that people of that age exhibited. The Ganesh chariot, made square and carved of a single rock (monolithic carving) does leave you in awe as you would look closely at the details carved on it. The Bhima ratha is of a similar style. The other notable temple is the Shore temple. Being next to the sea, has caused a lot of it's details to be eroded with time, but the architectural splendour of the temple would still catch you breath. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it has Shiva in a reclining pose within one of its temple chambers.

Pallava Dynasty: A powerful dynasty in south India which ruled for more than 500 years with its capital at Kanchipuram. Read more at Pallava, Pallava Dynasty

Pandavas and Draupadi: Mythology has it that the Pandavas were borne to Kunti and Madri, wives of king Pandu, by gods due to a boon received by Kunti from sage Durvasa. Read more at Pandavas.

Mahabalipuram is connected by road to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and is 52 kms away. One can hire a car or take a bus from the city. The entire trip to Mahabalipuram would last a maximum of 2-3 hrs. Do ensure you have a guide with you when you visit the town, as without it the importance of the sculptures would never be evident to you. Sadly enough the ASI has done little on that account, with hardly any plaques around describing the importance of the structure.

13 comments:

Vinni said...

its amazing how these places have still stood the test of time. you go to these places and its like wow. a time machine for real!

(¯`•._.•[Raaji]•._.•´¯) said...

ahh... cool :-)
I love traveling and wondering about the people who "existed" :-)

queen's said...

thanx for rejunivating the memories..i had visited mamallapuram quiet a time back, the picturesque beuty just flashed back one more . lovely.

queen's said...

thanx for rejunivating the memories..i had visited mamallapuram long back, the picturesque beauty just flashed back once more .

Cuckoo said...

Thanks for bringing back the memories. It's a lovely place to be with.

You could have posted some pictures. :)


Cuckoo

phoenix said...

sam da i have changed my URL 2

http://waves-of-light.blogspot.com

Solitaire said...

Hey I have been here when I was a kid! I don't remember anything though. :(

I put up pictures of the hurricane damage on my blog.

shooting star said...

an informative post on mahabalipuram.....if i ever go to chennai..ill definitely make it a point to visit this place......

Vandita said...

really informative post.. ive never been there but looks like i wud enjoy if i do :)

Sam said...

@vinni: very true.... the ravages of time hasn't been able to erode their story... they still linger to enamour us despite more than a millenia separating us in age!!

@raaji: once my fav pastime.. and den i grew up!! :(

Sam said...

@queen: am happy for that... :)

@cuckoo: wud have loved to.. but didn't have a cam!!

@phoenix: gotcha!!

Sam said...

@solitaire: time for a visit then?? :)
anywyz, did c a few pics... was really numbed to comment!! will go thru agn!!

@ss: oh you must!! visit m'puram.. drive onto pondy spend d night there.. next day visit auroville and then come back to chennai!! :)

@vandita: i'm sure you will!!

Martin said...

Mahabalipuram is a treasure house of ancient Tamil art, culture, civilization, & history. A coastal city, Mahabalipuram has an immense place of importance in Tamil history and mythology. This beautiful coastal city of Tamil Nadu is ordained with a number of temples and places of archeological importance. It is not surprising therefore, that because of the overabundance of these places Mahabalipuram is often referred to as a legacy in stone. The unique instances of art, culture and architecture that has been preserved by the kings of the then Pallava dynasty proves to be a delight to the eye even today and it is not for nothing that Mahabalipuram is known as an “open air museum”. The richness of Mahabalipuram has made it one of the most favorite tourist places of South India. Hotels in Mahabalipuram are for tourists from different walks of life. As the place is more of a tourist destination rather than a business one, there are many leisure hotels and budget hotels in Mahabalipuram.