Tsunami and Mahabalipuram

One of the monuments that survived the tsunami was the shore temple of Mahabalipuram (named after Mahabali of Onam festival or Pallava king Mamalla).

Once upon a time, in the first century A.D., it was a tiny port town bustling with life.
By the 6th century, it had become the capital of the Pallava kings who ruled these shores and built several exquisite temples to thank the deities for their thriving empire.
However, some time in the past, the town was abandoned, probably because the sea engulfed it and the temples and rock monuments were buried in heaps of sand.
It was only in the 1800s that the exquisite rock carvings and temples, said to be the oldest surviving temples on the east coast of India, about 60 km south of Chennai, were rediscovered and unearthed by British architects. [Mammoth temple that withstood tsunami]

The current temple survived because it had hard rock bases embedded very deep. But then according to local mythology there were seven temples and six of them were swallowed by the sea. Graham Hancock and team spent time doing some marine archaeology and found some structures under the ocean.

Diving in challenging conditions, the team found the “foundation of walls, broken pillars, steps, and many scattered stone blocks,” said Kamlesh Vora, a marine archaeologist with NIO.
Vora, Halls, and the rest of the team were quickly convinced that they had made a major discovery of man-made structures. “Here there would be no furrowed brows, no peering at reefs from different angles, no dusting for elusive archaeological fingerprints,” said Halls. “Here man was everywhere.”
“All structures are made of granite stone which is locally available,” Vora continued. “The archaeological and inscriptional evidence of sites on land near shore indicate a possible date of construction of these structures between 1,500 to 1,200 years before present. We now need to carry out detailed explorations and searches for datable antiquities and inscriptional evidences on the finds.”
If the Mahabalipuram ruins are found to be of the same temple complex as the shore temple, the discovery would lend credence to the local tales that outsiders have often disregarded as legend. [New Underwater Finds Raise Questions About Flood Myths]

9 thoughts on “Tsunami and Mahabalipuram

  1. Shored Up
    (via Kiruba and Visithra) One of my favorite temples, the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) purely for its fantastic location is safe after the latest Tsunami attack. After visiting nearly 6-7 temples in Tamil Nadu as a part of

  2. JK.
    Mahabalipuram is not named after Mahabali the King. It is a corruption of the tamil name Ma-mallapuram – the town of the great wrestler.
    Mahendra Varma Pallavan started building it, and his son, Narasimha Varma Pallavan (the Mamallan – the name his father gave him) completed the construction of the port.

    1. JK is right.The place is named after Mamallan meaning a great ( Ma) Wrestler(Mallan) by which name Narsimaha varman was popularly known.This is not connected with Mahabali nor with Beema legends.

  3. I think the mamallan is Bhima, there is a temple for Bhima in the Mahabali puram temple.
    Bali means strength. Maha is great. it means a person of great power and strenght. It aint a misnomer. But JK could beright. it could be name of some king.

  4. When I was in 7/8/9th standard, around 1984, I remember having a chapter in my NCERT Hindi textbook about Mahabalipuram temples and a sculptor working on some of the temples. The chapter ends with sea waves engulfing many of the temples and the sculptor dying. Thats how much I remember. So it is not a surprize that Tsunami uncovered some structures.

  5. Hai
    Vanakkam (greetings)
    The Great Pallava King Mahendra Pallava ruled the Thondai mandalam of Tamilnadu. His son is Narasimha pallavan, who is a great wrestler (mallan). Due to this fame he has been conferred with the name maamallan (great wrestler). After Mahendra Pallava, Narasimha Pallava completed the art work at maamallapuram. The little town was named only after the Narasimha pallava king of Tamilnadu.

  6. Underwater Archaeology in India
    The article gives a brief over view of the under water archaeology efforts in Dwaraka and Mahabalipuram Another significant discovery has been at Mahabalipuram. For years, this ancient port town, off the Tamil Nadu coast was known to sailors…

  7. Mammallapuram was a bustling Port city ,named after the great pallava king narasimhavarman 1’s title’ Mammalla’, by his father King Mahendra varman . Kancheepuram was the Capital city of the Pallavas. Mammallapuram is referred to by Hieun Tsang the Chinese traveller & Ptolemy.Construction of the Rock cut & shore temples were begun by MahendraVarma Pallava & Completed by Narasimha Varman 1 & further progressed by Narasimha Varman 2.

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