At the southern edge of Mahabalipuram is a group of five free-standing temples. Four of them were carved out of a single long granite boulder. These temples are actually detailed replicas of ancient wooden structures and represent the rathas (chariots) of Arjuna, Bhima, Dharmaraja, Nakula-Sahadeva -- the five Pandava princes of the epic Mahabharata -- and their common wife, Draupadi.
As its name suggests, the Shore Temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal (Mamallapuram was the port city of Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital). Its location, so near the sea, has resulted in considerable erosion of the temple's superstructure.
It's architectures is quite similar to the Pancha rathas (see former tips)
The temple itself hasn't suffered much from the Tsunami as there is already a breakwater protecting it. The waves have only caused damage to the pavement, which was being restorized at the time we visited.
The base of the Dharmaraja ratha is supported by figures of a lion alternating with an elephant. as bearers of a heavy burden. Its base is square and it rises to 13 metres as a pyramid. It has three tiers and a small stupa on top of the spire. The columns at the entrance bear sculptures of lions which support the shafts.
On the left side of the temple there is Shiva's Nandi or sacred bull.
This south-facing shrine, with barrel roof, is apsidal in shape. See how it lines up amusingly with the forms of the elephant.
The elephant in Indian ethos occupies significant place. Due to its enormous strength, huge form, sharp memory an cleverness, Indians who visualize divinity in all living creatures naturally ascribe super qualities in this great animal. It is perhaps only to represent omniscience form of Almighty that Ganesh is worshipped.
The Dharmaraja Ratha is dedicated to Shiva. It's a miniature version of the Dharmaraja ratha, and a true picture of dravidian style of architecture
The shrine seems to resemble a small palace or pavillion, with sculpted pilasters, miniature roof shrines, and an octagonal dome.
Most impressive is this magnificent relief, carved in the mid-seventh century. approx., 30m long by 15m high. The subject is either Arjuna's Penance or the Descent of the Ganges, or maybe both
Arjuna's Penance is a story from the Mahabharata and shows how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Shiva's weapon.
To the left, just above the shrine, Arjuna stands on one leg, his arms upraised, in a yoga posture.
Directly below Shiva is a Vishnu shrine with worshipers, ascetics, celestials, and animals.
To the right of the cleft, life-sized elephants protect their young, below a scene of numerous other animals and flying celestials.
A natural cleft populated by nagas separates the two halves of the relief. Water was poured down this cleft in order to simulate a natural waterfall , the auspicious moment when the Ganges river flows down to the earth after the intervention of the lord Shiva.
Our guide couldn't stop telling us a story about almost every single statue carved in this relief. Amazing !
The present work evokes the tender relationship between Bhu Devi and her rescuer, in a mood of quiet devotion.
Varaha lifts up the Earth Goddess, Bhu Devi, affectionately nuzzling her breast as he rescues her from the naga king who had abducted her under the ocean.
In early eighth century, work was begun on the Shore Temple. This temple was built with granit blocks to honour Lord Shiva. It is the earliest known example of a stone-built temple in South India.
Being here was pretty relaxed. Not many tourists here.
Once outside the temple so many street-vendors are selling handcarved granite statues of all kind, leather sandals, table cloth, nice bronze art objects at a good price.
This is one of famous sea shore temple at Mahabalipuram.One of most photographed temple here.Its also one of UNESCOS world heritage monument.Build by Narsimha Varman II in 8th century 8AD.This best example of temples with super structural erections.
Two gopurams(towers) one is big one,
another is copy of big one,surrounded by a row of charming bulls sitting ,who are curved out of small rock.Still bulls sitting strongly.
Unlike other templs are rock cut ,this temple was built with granite blocks .
Come January the whole place&temple will be lit by night.Pongal the tamils festival is celeberated in big way here,Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is time to enjoy well known dancers performing here.Artist from many parts of country will perform here.
Timming 6.30 am to 6pm.
Entrace fees Rs 10 for Indians,Rs 250 or $5 for NRI's.This entrace fees include ,5 rathas too.
This is super structure of shore temple,the big gopuram,with complete prakara,inside the sanctum sanctorum can see Shiva lingam, on walls bas-reliefs of Shiva &Parvathi .Now old "Shiva Linga " is there.
The other small temple goupuram ,inside can see "Lord Vishnu" lying down on earth.
This temple also called the "Sthalasayana Perumal" ,is one of Abodes of Vishnu .
These temple structure inspired by following Cholas next prominet dynasty,
now its called Tamil nadu.
The pic is Arjuna's Penance one of five Rathas,is made of two huge boulders, this is
the largest bas - relief sculpture in the world.Its 27 metres long and 9 metres high,
the whole scene was descent of the Ganga to the earth,the cleft in the rock makes descent of river Ganges to earth the request of King Bhagiratha.Can see two huge elephents .
Festival time , bas-relife is well lit by light&and water alos come in between two boulders,gives as if real River Ganges comes downs to earth.
The monolithic rathas however display of full form and feature of the
contemborary temple style and show many varieties both in ground plan&
elevation.Rathas, are of square (Dharma raja,Arjuna,Daurapathi Rathas),rectangalur and(BHIMA AND GANESH) singel to triple stories.They are carry out art motifs as well as carved wall panels many hindu
divinities on them.Statue of Nandi(Bull),Elephent,can see here.
Here have to use entracne ticket.
This bas-relif is also inside of Mahishasuramardhini cave,
it shows Lord Vishnu&Adi Sesha(on the coils of a serpent.),Lord is sleeping on Adi Sesha.
Watching Lord Vishnu,exact opposite side of Godess Durga,as if he is watching all angry mood of Durga.:)) He is here looking trance position.
This is old lighthouse. Build on top of big bouilder,and top lighhouse room outside four walls ,all carved pics.From here can see ,good view of beach& blue bay of bengal .
Near can see newligh house,100 year old,but its now public is not allowed inside.
Pallava period,Mamallapuram was busiest port .From here to five rathas place can see all sculptures working,sound of chisels chipping chip chip chip. From here only all over the Tamil nadu and other templs statue&divine idols are going.