In this article, we will discuss about Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram, India which was once a Centre point in South India. Now a days, it is one of the Important cultural site currently under Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) protection. Recently, ASI removed the sands and made a breakaway wall to protect the Shore Temple from Sea Laden winds and water spray. We will see some more important points about shore temple in below section.
It is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal in Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram in Maharashtra. It is a very fine representation of India’s Ancient Art and Culture. It has been classified as the UNSECO World Heritage Site since 1984.
It is considered as the one of the oldest Structural Stone temple in South India.
It was named as “Seven Pagodas” by Marco Polo and Europeans due to its Pyramidal Structure which indicates the existence of Seven temples in the past.
Hiuen Tsang, one of the travellers who visited India in 7th century CE in his travel records also talks of Mamallapuram, terming it as a Pallava sea-port.
The Vaishnava saint Tirumangai Alwar in his work Nalayiraprabandha (8th century CE), described the bustling port town and wrote of the numerous ships anchored in the harbour.
The construction of Shore temple was started by Pallava King Narasimhavarman II and later completed by Cholas. Mamallapuram indicates the popularity of port in Ancient India and it connections with outside.
It is a complex of three temples: one big temple and two other small temples. Two shrines are dedicated to Lord Shiva and the third small one is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The most distinctive feature of the temple are the Dharalinga and the Somaskanda panel, which are enshrined in the interior walls of the sanctum of the east facing Kshatriyasimhesvara temple.
The Dharalinga is deified in the garbhagriha, which is in square shape of 12 feet (3.7 m) and the height is 11 feet (3.4 m). The Dharalinga or Shivalinga is in Rajasimha style, carved out of black basalt stone.
It has sixteen faces with slight fluting to create a crown at the top. The top portion of the Linga is damaged. Its total height is 6 feet (1.8 m) with one foot embedded in the foundation to provide stability.
A bas-relief, which is a family image of Shiva and his consort Parvati with their child Kartikeya built over a stone slab is located in a small shrine in the temple. T
his is also called the Somaskanada panel, a carved stone panel. Two more similar panels are seen at the entrance porch of the temple. This type of panel is also depicted in the nearby Dharmaraja Ratha of the Paramesvarvarman’s era.
The Tsunami of December 2004 left few ancient rock sculptures of Lions, elephants and peacocks exposed that used to decorate walls and temples during the Pallava Period.
The entrance walls of the temple hold many carved panels, some of which show scenes from the Pallavan history, while others depict Shiva in his various forms, such as the Tripurantaka, Kiritarjuna, Dakshinamurti, etc. More on Financial Express.
The outer walls have inscriptions from the Pallava and Chola eras that praise king Narasimhavarman II, and names the deities inside. The temple has a garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) in which the deity, Sivalinga, is enshrined, and a small mandapa surrounded by a heavy outer wall with little space between for circumambulation.
At the rear are two shrines facing in opposite directions. The inner shrine dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara is reached through a passage while the other, dedicated to Vishnu, is facing outwards. The Durga is seated on her Lion Vahana. A small shrine may have been in the cavity in the lion’s chest.
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