Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Mamallapuram. It is a small town situated near Chennai in Tamilnadu in India and a bus from Thiruvanmiyur at Chennai can reach Mamallapuram within two hours and by car, we can reach the destination within one hour and 45 minutes
It is a good tourist center and is very popular amongst the various tourist centres situated in Tamilnadu. There are a large number of restaurants and lodging houses available at Mamallapuram to cater to the needs of all tourists visiting the place
Mamallapuram is situated on the shore of Bay of Bengal and it is an ancient seaside town. The Pallava art at this place emphasizes robust earthy beauty imbibed with life. The Pallavas have created many marvelous monuments, sclputural panels, caves, monlolithic rathas and sculptural panels, caves, monolithic rathas and sculputal temples. Mythological episodes, epic battles, demons, gods, animals are all very vividly depicted on the walls alongside various rocks all over the town. Sculptures are breathtakingly real and artistic. The great Chirpi Devadaperunthachan created and architected the fantasy. Tourists all over the world are attracted by the monumental splendours and the sunny beach at the town.
Once we reached the town, we proceeded towards the place called “Arjunas Penance”. The world’s largest base-relief measuring 27m x 9 m is the pride of Mamallapuram. The huge whaleback shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts and birds and intact, can be said to represent creation itself. One can really wonder on seeing the marvelous work done by the sculptors on a single rock. It is very amazing to view the artistic sculptures of two elephants standing side by side along with their calves.
Once we got the glimpses of artistic beauty at Arjuna’s Penance, we moved forward and at about 50 metres, we happened to see the Krishna’s butter ball. It is a huge boulder in the shape of a ball near the Ganesha Ratha and is popularly known as Krishna’s butter ball. It rests precariously on a narrow rock base
Any new visitor to the Krishna’s butter ball will hesitate to approach the place with fear in their minds that the ball will roll down at any point of time. However, there are various stories about the butter ball. We were informed that several Pallava Kings attempted to move it, but all the Kings, and their elephants could not shift the boulder even by an inch.
We next visited to Cave temple. The rock-cut cave tradition, represented by more than thirteen caves was first initiated here by Mahendravarma – I. They are known for their simplicity in plan and decoration. Konerimandapa, Mahisaruramardhini cave. Varathamandapa, Adi Varathamandapa, Tirumurthi cave and Krishnamandapa are notable ones among the various cave temples.
The mahisasuramardhini cave, depicting the Goddess fighting a demon on one side, and Lord Vishnu’s cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable scooped cave, sure to keep one spell-bound
We visited Krishna Mandapam and there is a sculpture on the rock face of one wall – Lord Krishna as the protector of all living beings, presenting man, bird and beast. Krishna Mandapam ep;itomizes real bliss and presents activities that have changed little with time
We next proceeded towards Five Rathas. They are in fact five monolithic temples, each crated in a different style. They are also known as the Panch Pandava Rathas. Four of all Rathas are believed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation. They are very nicely covered with art motifs and wall panels depicting many Hindu divinities and royal portraits
Tiger cave is four kilometers north of the main monument complex. It has been built on an open-air theatre, where cultural programmes were held during the Pallava period. Though it is very nearer to the sea, the place is serene and calm.
Shore temple in Mamallapuram is one of the oldest temples in South India standing on the edge of the sea, enclosed by a row of bulls, carved out of rock. The temple is said to have been built by the King called Rajasimha in the later half of the seventh century A D. It is a very good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in the Dravidan style. There are two shrines in the temple – one dedicated to Vishnu and another to Lord Shiva. The monuments are floodlit at night and so it is possible for us to enjoy their beauty after sunset also
Throughout the town while we were on our visits to various places, we witnessed several sculptors working on various sculptures of different sizes depicting our national leaders, divine gods etc and they were on sale for nominal prices
Mamallapuram is a beautiful place and people of all ages are delighted to visit the caves and temples every now and then.
At Mamallapuram, training is given in various branches of temple art and architecture, according to the sirpa sastra. The college also has a display hall, which exhibits beautiful traditional sculptures.
A modern open air museum has been constructed and various types of sculptures of various ages are displayed in the museum. It reflects the cultural heritage of the Tamils from the Pre-sangam days. The objects which are on display at the museum, shaped mostly from granite by more than 300 sculptors, include chains of stone, ornamental wheels and a host of other items
The themes here are many, including those relating to historical and cultural events of the past, p;lacing the contribution of the Tamils in proper perspective. Situated very close to the shore temple, one can have a glimpse of the past as well as the progress being made in the present in the field of art in Tamil Nadu here
It took one full day for us to visit all places in the town and it was a most memorable day. We took photographs at important places and our friends and neighbours were very much delighted to witness the artistic beauty displayed through the photographs
Finally on the way to Chennai we visited a boating centre called – Muttukadu which is around 25 kilometres from Mamallapuram enroute to Chennai. Here boating is arranged by Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation and various types of boats like row boats, pedal boats and motor boats are available for rides in the water on hourly basis
While we started our Mamallapuram trip by 09.00 A. M. in the morning on a Sunday, we reached our home after completion of the visit by 07.00 P.M.
We recommend the readers to have a visit at once to Mamallapuram and surely the tourist town will be liked by everybody who visits