From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The monuments are mostly rock cut and monolithic and constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture wherein Buddhist elements of design are prominently visible. They are constituted by cave temples, monolithic rathas (chariots), sculpted reliefs and structural temples. The pillars are of the Dravidian order. The sculptures are excellent examples of Pallava art.
Some important structures
- Arjuna's Penance- relief sculpture on a massive scale extolling stories from Hindu mythology.
- The Shore Temple- a structural temple along the Bay of Bengal with the entrance from the Western side away from the sea. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here. The temple was reconstructed stone by stone from the sea after being washed away in a cyclone.
- Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) - five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula & Sahadeva) and Draupadi.
- City Under the Sea: Wrath of Jealous Gods? (http://www.geocities.com/avarangal/References/CityUnderTheSee2.html) – By B.K. Parthasarathy
- THE INDIA ATLANTIS EXPEDITION - March 2002 (http://www.india-atlantis.org/)
Tsunami Victims No Stranger to Disaster At Mahabalipuram:
Tuesday December 28, 2004 7:16 PM: By CHRIS TOMLINSON,
Associated Press Writer
MAHABALIPURAM, India (AP) - When the tsunami wave struck this ancient pilgrimage town, the sea water broke around a 1,200-year-old temple on the shore and destroyed the 80 tourist shops lined up next to it.
Sundary Munnaswamy lost her two shops Sunday morning, but her family survived the deluge that killed 15 townspeople. Now, she says, they'll do the same thing they and their ancestors have done every time disaster strikes: Get a loan, buy new inventory and get back to work.
``Willpower is what keeps you going,'' she said Tuesday, standing in the broken cement frame where she sold seashells, stone carvings and textiles.
Ninety-nine deaths had been counted in Mahabalipuram and surrounding villages, but S.R. Kumar, the 70-year-old senior priest at the town's main temple, said the area's people will persevere the same as Munnaswamy because most are devout in their Hinduism.
``God is all the survivors need,'' he said, standing in front of the blue and white Sthalasayanapermal Temple, which was built 700 years ago to replace another shoreside temple. ``They just need to pray every day.''
The crash of surf echoed as Munnaswamy scraped sand from one of her wrecked shops, just yards from the 8th century Shore Temple, the earliest existing example of a stone-built temple in southern India.
This was not her first brush with disaster.
Perhaps the worst before Sunday was when a cyclone, as typhoons are known in India, swept through in 1968. The shops then weren't so close to the temple, which sits just 30 feet from the ocean, but the storm surge seriously damaged the town nonetheless.
``We have cyclones every year, but some years are worse than others,'' said Munnaswamy, who also has twice lost shops to fire.
India can be a hard place, no matter the location. Earthquakes strike northwestern and western parts of the country, drought and flash floods are common in the central regions, and cyclones rake the coasts. But tsunami waves are rare and none have been recorded that equaled the one that struck Sunday.
Munnaswamy, 52, said she was away from her shops hawking wares in town at a dance festival when three huge waves hit Mahabalipuram, a town of 13,000 people that dates back to the 2nd century and is visited each year by thousands of Hindu pilgrims and tourists.
The Shore Temple, listed by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, is adorned with elaborate carvings representing characters from Hindu scriptures in scenes of everyday life, a contrast to other temples in the region that depict only gods and goddesses.
It survived Sunday's onslaught because during a visit in 1978, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi saw erosion was threatening the temple and ordered that huge boulders be piled around the structure to protect it from the sea.
The barrier worked when the tsunami waves hit Sunday, though most of the sand between the huge boulders was washed away, creating perilous gaps in the protective wall.
Munnaswamy said she wished the rocks had been placed all the way around the town, because that might have saved two of her friends who were washed out to sea.
But she counts her blessings that no one in her family was killed in this, or any other of the town's disasters. She said she will rebuild her shops, and arrange loans from friends to get them running again.
``I am from this town. I don't ever want to go anywhere else,'' she said. ``My children are in this business and I don't know any other profession.''