Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram) is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in India in the past two years. The combination of beach and rocks AND the awesome monolithic structures makes the place so special that, by the end of the day, you will realized that a day is simply not enough to explore this historical site. It’s a small town, peaceful and touristy, where centuries old monolithic stone temples and carvings are scattered in walking distance from the beach. It’s barely an hour from Chennai, on way to Pondicherry (two hours from here).
The Shore Temple is a top destination because of its location, right on the shore as its name suggests. The rocky beach in front of the temple saves it from being hit directly by the water but that doesn’t mean the occasional wrath of the sea doesn’t harm it always. Over the centuries parts of temple have been washed away by the water, a book on town says.
The huge complex of rocks and carvings on the other side of the road is where we spent most of the day. The book Mahabalipuram- a journey through a magical land by Srinivaas and J Prabhakar that we had bought in Chennai came very handy while exploring the carvings and rocks. The writers could have done without their occasional ‘witty’ observations about the arts and carvings. The reader is interested in the structure and its historical significance, not the jokes and moral lessons that the writers prefer to draw from them. The research that they have done to prepare the book is commendable. I have used writers’ descriptions of structures and carvings alongside the relevant photos posted below. Continue reading