Unknown Facts About Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Mamallapuram also known as Mahabalipuram is gearing up to host the informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping between October 11 and 13, 2019. A world renowned UNESCO heritage site known for its exquisite stone carvings and stone temples, Mamallapuram is a historical port town located about 60 kilometers from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state in India. By turning into the hosting ground of a historic summit between the heads of two nations, Mamallapuram has evoked an interest in the minds of people. Here are a few unknown facts about Mamallapuram that will let you admire this awesome tourist destination.

Historical importance of Mamallapuram

The monuments you see today in Mamallapuram were built by the Pallava Kings who ruled this region between the 5th and 8th centuries. Hence Mamallapuram monuments are the oldest structural monuments of India built before 1700 years. Originally, Mamallapuram complex had more than 400 monuments. Only about 50 of them have survived till date. These monuments bear testimony to the incredible talents of the rulers and artisans who made them. The UNESCO has declared Mamallapuram a cultural heritage place especially highlighting the three monuments namely Descent of the Ganges, Pancha Rathas and Shore Temple.

The Shore Temple that survived Tsunami


The most famous shore temple of Mahabalipuram was the worst hit during the 2004 tsunami. However, the strong structure survived the catastrophe with the least damage to its structure and beauty. The mighty tsunami waves heaped the sea sand on the temple. Later when the sand was uncovered a few more sculptures that were hidden in the sand before the tsunami were discovered.

Arjuna’s penance and Ganga’s descent


Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of Ganga is the name of a monument in Mamallapuram. The sculptures on this huge rock narrate two mythological episodes. Arjuna’s penance depicts the tough austerity undertaken by Arjuna in pursuit of getting divine powers from gods to support him in the war. Ganga’s descent presents the picturesque incident of Bahirata bringing the Holy Ganges from heaven and the holy Ganges descending on to the earth. This sculptural collage consists of around 150 sculptures depicting some animals and birds, natural phenomenon, planets and dragon.

Pancha Rathas

Translating as the five chariots, the Pancha Rathas are rock cut temples each of them carved out from a single rock. These five temples are dedicated to the Five Pandava brothers and their consort Draupati (Panchali).

The deer pair

One of the most favorite spots of all tourist guides, the pair of deer is seen at the bottom of Arjuna's penance monument. This deer pair can be noticed on the Rs.10 currency note of India. In 1980, Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India visited this place while opening a nuclear plant. Developing a strong liking for these pair of deer sculpture, she ordered that they are incorporated within the design of Rs. 10 currency note.

Krishna’s butter ball


Krishna’s butter ball is a natural rock that looks stunning. This huge rock is found on a hilltop surface. How this rock stands there with the most minimal contact with the ground below is a matter of wonder.

The old lighthouse

The old lighthouse that was used to guide the vessels and ships to the port of Mamallapuram sports an unconventional design. Built on a huge rock, this light house has some narrative sculptures carved on its stone walls.
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