A visit to the grandeurs of pallavas- Shore temple, Mahabalipuram


The ancient south Indian scripts talk of a legend. 7 sacred temples were believed to have existed on the shores of the mighty ‘Bay of Bengal’.

These temples were said to depict the artistic skills and cultural values of the Dravidians. Standing for the three main gods of Hinduism-   shiva, Vishnu and Bramha, these temples also stood as sea ports to the Pallavas who ruled the town of ‘Mamallapuram’ during the 3rd century CE. But this love showed by the king and the people of Mamallapuram, could not be seen by lord Indra.

As jealousy over ruled his senses, he struck a mighty storm, in which 6 of the 7 temples were gulped by the mighty ocean. All that is left today is 1 temple of the legendary temples.

The folks of Mamallapuram or Mahaballipuram say that, the world will see its end if this last temple too faces the wrath of the ocean.

Snap! Hey, are you still waiting at the shores of Mahabalipuram? Well its time we get back to reality and really take a look at this ancient town and how it looks today after all these years.

Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is a small town located on the outskirts of Chennai, Tamilnadu. Around 50 kms away from Chennai, a drive to Mahabalipuram is a very pleasant and comfortable one.

shore temple mahabalipuramWhy mahabalipuram?

With the advent of modern equipments, we live in an era where buildings are constructed in days and destroyed in minutes. But have you ever thought of those times, when all our ancestors had was, some stone, some basic equipment to make carvings and not to forget the genius brain of an architect. And yes, Mahabalipuram stands for immense hard work and love these age old architects had towards their culture and Gods.

Mahabalipuram has temples, caves and many more places to see, which have all been made and carved by our ancestors, entirely out of their imagination. This place is a must visit, because sometimes we all need to be reminded of what a human brain can do.

What to see in Mahabalipuram:

The shore temple:

And yes, this shore temple is the last of the legendary temples in Mahabalipuram. This is not just like any other south Indian temples you would have encountered till date.

Located near the shores of Bay of Bengal, surrounded by lush green grass and trees, accompanied by the pleasant winds of the sea, the shore temple is the most visited place by the tourists. And why shouldn’t it be, this temple doesn’t have a priest or is not characterized by devotees standing in a queue for a glimpse of the god. But it is definitely a paradise made for god.

The kind of calmness and tranquillity experienced in the temple is astonishing.  Another important aspect of this temple is the fact that, the environment is not only tranquil but also very powering. You can feel the flow of positive vibes throughout the temple.

With idols of lions and elephants made out of stones, this temple is surrounded by walls which are mounted by shiva lingams  around the entire temple. The kind of patience put in by the craftsmen in carving each and every idol leaves you wonderstruck.

shore temple mahabalipuramThe descent of the Ganges and Arjuna’s penance:

We now have books and technology to gain knowledge and wisdom on any particular subject. But back then, the clever craftsmen used their magical hands to educate the people.

Arjuna’s penance is one such place, in which the story of how the most sacred river Ganges has descended from the heavens to flow on the earth.

Another part of the carvings depict the strict penance performed by Arjuna to please lord Shiva, in order to grant him a boon to wage the Mahabharata war.  It requires lot of patience to decode the beautiful stories that have been depicted. But patience is always a virtue.

The descent of the Ganges and Arjuna’s penanceLord Krishna’s butter ball:

Science is believed to state facts and claims to have a reason behind everything. But there are some weird things which happen around us, which are beyond the explanation provided by science.

Krishna’s butter ball is one such huge rock which has defied and challenged all the laws of physics. Located on an extremely slippery and smooth surface, it comes as a surprise to many as to how the huge rock stands in its position without losing its balance.

The folks of Mahabalipuram believe that, lord Krishna who as a baby loved butter dropped a chunk of it from the skies. This chunk is said to have turned into a gigantic rock over the years. Probably every organism on the planet follows the law of gravity, except this rock. This mystery will always remain unsolved.

Now, come on!  Go ahead and dare yourself to sit beneath the rock.

Lord Krishna’s butter ball

Mahishasura Mardini cave:

Long ago there was a deadly demon called Mahishasura who brought along with him destruction. That was when, the gods prayed to goddess Durga, who waged a war against the demon and defeated him.

Since then, the goddess has been given the title of Mahishasura Mardini. This cave in Mahabalipuram has carvings of the fierce battle between the goddess and the wrathful demon.

Watching a real time war carved by a brainy is much better than watching some war in your LED TV.

Mahishasura Mardini caveThe 5 Rathas :

A Ratha is a chariot. There were 5 chariots built by the craftsmen of the king ‘Narsimhaverma’. These 5 chariots are symbolic of the Pandavas and their wife, Draupadi.

The construction of these Rathas was left incomplete due to the death of the king. As a result the real reason for the construction of these chariots is not knows. However, this is one of those other places at Mahabalipuram which will make you admire the craftsmanship of the ancient architects who constructed these Rathas with single stones.

The 5 Rathas The 5 Rathas The 5 Rathas The 5 Rathas
Ps : The 5th ratha has to be seen in reality.

The sea shell museum:

What if you could see all the sea shells found all across the world under one roof? Remember those times when you would collect sea shells at the beach? Here is your chance to view the largest shell collection museum in Asia at Mahabalipuram. Here you get to be amazed at how creative mother nature is, in creating each shell and species of the water world.

Time to take a dip into the waters! The best part…you don’t need to learn to swim!

The sea shell museum:
As kids history was probably a very boring subject to most of us (considering the dates we had to remember). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself going through the pages of Wikipedia to read and know more about Mahabalipuram.

If only the walls and carvings of Mahabalipuram talked, we would all have heard innumerable stories of the royalty of the kings, the skills of the intelligent architects and also the sad story of how the 6 temples found their end.

Coming back to the 6 temples, it was not until the 2004 tsunami, that evidences of   granite walls and statues were found on the shores of MAHABALIPURAM.

So the myth was indeed true. Does this by any chance mean that, the world will end, if the shore temple also faces the wrath of the sea? Your curiosity might find its answers in the ancient city of ‘ Mamallapuram’.

You may also like: 7 best adventure sports in India and where to try them.

Travel tips :

  • Since the weather in Mahabalipuram is sweaty, it is advised to wear cotton clothes.
  • Take a tour guide with you, since there is a lot which can be learnt from all the places of Mahabalipuram.
  • Since Mahabalipuram is a few kilometers away from Chennai, the entire place can be seen in a day’s time.
  • Try going in the evening at around 4 , after the sun set as you can see the place once it has cooled down ,so that you can see everything at your own pace, without missing out on anything.
  • Shopping can be a bit tricky. Take someone who is good at bargaining. You will get some amazing idols and also decorative items made of shells and stones.

Comment below and share your experience to this beautiful shore temple.


About Author

To travel is to live, laugh and love. This is what Kavya yandamuri a college student and a passionate writer believe in. She writes, for the love of writing. She writes because she believes the world becomes a better place when she writes. She believes in making the reading experience as fun and as relatable as possible. She writes in ‘easy on the eyes of the reader’ English as, she believes that everybody deserves to read, understand and enjoy. “Adding to the wisdom of my reader, through my articles”, she says is one of her main aims. Her articles are sure to make you smile; think ‘yeah, been there done that’ and most of all inspire and motivate you to become a better person through travel.

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