What Is The Mamallapuram - China Connection?

What Is The Mamallapuram - China Connection?
Widespread excitement is mounting up high in the air as the informal meeting between the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping, the Chinese President is scheduled in Mamallapuram between October 11 and 13, 2019. Mamallapuram is decking itself in an adorable manner to invite the two stalwarts in the international politics. By organizing the meeting in Mamallapuram a historic town in Tamil Nadu, the Central Government of India has confirmed its commitment to host such crucially important meetings outside Delhi. Now the world is getting curious to know the links that the ancient seaport town of Tamil Nadu enjoys with China. Here we study some shades of this topic.

UNESCO world heritage site

Mamallapuram is an ancient seaport town in Tamil Nadu. Also known as Mahabalipuram, this is a very interesting town located about 60 kilometers from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. Some of the top attractions of this place include some cultural monuments, temples and stone carvings. Due to the immense importance of this town from the ancient monumental, historic and cultural point of view, Mamallapuram has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History dating back to the Pallavas

Mamallapuram, literally translated as the city of Mamalla got its name after the famed Pallava King Narasimhavarman-I. With Kancheepuram as their capital, the ancient Pallavas had some strategic trade connections with some South East Asian countries, especially China. We learn from historical evidence dating back to the 6th century that this town had been a very important sea port under the rule of the Pallavas.

Connections with China

  • During 6th and 7th centuries, Chinese pilgrims had been coming to Kancheepuram. One of the notable personalities who visited the Pallava Kingdom include Hiuen Chiang, the world traveler.
  • A disputed account says the much disputed legend of Bodhi Dharma who went to China around 527 AD and resided there for a long time was in fact a Pallava king. Bodhi Dharma is said to be the origin of martial arts. Eventually he embraced Buddhism and became the 28th patriarch of Buddhism following Prajnatara.
  • Some historical accounts say Pallavas had also sent their envoys to China. Vayalur inscriptions found near Mamallapuram make a mention about this.
  • A renowned archaeologist says, “Celadon ware (pottery) of the first and second Century recovered on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu gives us a clue to Chinese maritime activities.” He says that such evidence shows us that the coastal areas of Mamallapuram had direct connections with China. Trade links of Mamallapuram with China are further attested by the fact that Chinese coins dating back to 2000 years ago were found in Tamil Nadu.
  • “Pattinapalai,” an ancient Tamil work attributed to the post Sangam period talks that a Chinese ship had been anchored on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu.
  • History says Emperor Wei (circa 185-149 BCE) made a mention of refers to Kancheepuram as “Huang-Che”. Chinese kings had sent presents to the then ruler of Kancheepuram.
Mamallapuram Tourism

As on date, Mamallapuram does not attract many Chinese tourists. However, historians and academicians strongly believe the scene will change dramatically following the meeting between the two nation’s heads.