Friday, July 6, 2012

Monolithic Marvels of Mahabalipuram - Mahabalipuram -South Indian Architecture

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram, a prominent tourist destination in Tamil Nadu, is called a majestic open museum because of its rock-cut caves and numerous ancient temples. Located at a distance of 55 km from the capital city Chennai, Mahabalipuram served as a 7th century port city of the Pallava Kings, a Dravidian dynasty.

Mostly all the rock-cut and monolithic monuments in Mahabalipuram date back to the 7th and the 9th century. These are unique in their architectural patterns as these differ from the later-Dravidian era temples that were built during the Chola dynasty. The beauty of the temples of Mahabalipuram lies in their high raised 'Gopurams' which is common in almost all the south Indian temples. The temples showcase the early phases of Dravidian architecture and a few Buddhist elements of design.

Its glorious history dates back to the 7th century and most of its arresting monuments were built between the 7th and 9th century. The brilliant Shore Temple is the most enchanting structure of Mahabalipuram, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site. Ideally set at the sea shore offering breathtaking views of the surroundings, the temple was constructed in the 8th century. Surviving the test of time, the temple takes pride.

Another bewitching attraction in the sleeves of this ancient city is the Five Rathas, which is a collection of majestic monolithic rock temples. Fashioned in the form of  chariot, these temples are dedicated to the five Pandavas, the heroes of the Great Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Their towers, multi-pillared halls, carvings and sculptures are simply awe-inspiring. These temples were carved out of a small hill. Mahabalipuram still serves as one of the most rich cultural centre of Tamil Nadu.

When it comes to the best of stone carvings in Mahabalipuram, the Arjuna's penance tops the chart. Built on two massive boulders, it is considered as one of the biggest open-air rock canvases in the world that measures up to 31m in length and 9 m in height. Carvings of various gods and semi divine creatures, birds and beasts, men and saints can be seen on its surface. People believe that the sculpture shows Arjuna undertaking a penance to obtain a powerful weapon to fight against his enemies.

The rich culture, historic monuments, traditions and blissful ambiance of Mahabalipuram and the splendid architecture of the temples make it a fascinating tourist attraction and a must-see.
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