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]