Mahabalipuram - The UNESCO Heritage Site

Mahabalipuram is a small fishing village by the sea, 60 kilo meters south of Chennai. Some people say that it’s fast becoming the Goa of south India. (God forbid!). You’ll bump into many travellers at this seventh century port city.

There are beaches and then there are temples in this ancient place.

You must stop by at the rock-cut shore temple. And also take in the art of stone carving. Did I catch you by surprise? You really can watch artisans carving stones into exquisite figures and figurines. But the shore temple is the one you mustn’t miss.

The ancient Pallava (650 – 893) dynasty built many cave temples. The shore temple is one of the earliest. I must say here that this shore temple along with the rock-cut sculptures fall under UNESCO’s world heritage sites. (Or is that the entire village itself… I’m not sure. But it definitely is a UNESCO site.)
Set against the canvas of the endless blue sky and the majestic sea, the shore temple is a treat for your eyes. Follow the exquisite forms carved in sheer rock and you’ll begin to appreciate the effort that has gone into making this abode of Lord Shiva as well as Lord Vishnu.

Scattered throughout the village are various other rock-cut temples. The vivid tableaux in rock transports you to an era when all you could hear were the lapping of waves timed to the bang of a thousand hammers, the chirping of birds and the measured chatter of artisans going about their commissioned work. Here you will find some of the finest examples of ancient temple art.

The rock sculptures date back to 630 BC. (How could that be when the Pallava reign commenced only in 650 BC is hard to tell. I aint no historian, so you must forgive me. I’ve culled this part from sources all over the net.)

But imagine this… 1400 years after Tamil artisans first began chipping rocks into beautiful temples; sculpture still remains a part of everyday life at Mahabalipuram, also called Mamallapuram.

Katherine Tanko of the International Herald Tribune describes this quaint land in four words – sun, surf and ancient ruins. That’s a potent combination, you’ll agree.

This great rock is called Krishna's Butterball. Remember Lord Krishna and his liking for butter? That's some imagination, huh? I call it the gravity rock. Does that sound frivolous?
Watch the Mahabalipuram stone carvers at work here.


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