Mahabalipuram temples are famous in the Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu, India. It is about 60 km south of the city of Chennai. However, the city is renowned for its beaches, rich architectural temples, and casuarinas trees. Mahabalipuram’s another name, also known as Mamallapuram. Hence, the city is named after King Mahabali, the famous demon king in the epic history of Hinduism.
About Mahabalipuram Temples:
The Temple was constructed during the Pallavas dynasty. These shore temples were built mainly between the 7th and 9th centuries A.D. Since then, Indian traders have used this fort city to travel to countries of South East Asia for trading. UNESCO declared this site a World Heritage Site
Pallava King’s Contribution to Mahabalipuram Temples:
The Pallava kings ruled Mahabalipuram from 3 rd century to the 9th century A.D. They used this port to trade and maintain diplomatic activities with Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
The presence of Mahabalipuram temples is described in Mahabharata. In the 7th century A.D. The Pallava King Narasimhavaramn II developed Mahabalipuram. Since the Seashore temples were built with great architecture, the mandapas and the Rathas are carved in granite rock. The sculptures are carved on granite rocks as bas-reliefs. These reliefs are carved as much as 100 ft long and 45 ft high. Some of the stones are cut in the models of Buddhist viharas. As a result of the rock cuttings, they seem like the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves.
Mahabalipuram temple comprises three shrines, each dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu. In the garbhagriha, an image of Shivalinga embraces the site. At the rear end, two shrines face each other. One shrine is dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara, and the other to Lord Vishnu. Almost the walls of the shrines are carved images elaborately, and each
sculpture panels depict scenes from everyday life. Due to the rich structures of the Temple, the visitors impressing and felt astonished when they knew the hard work of the sculptures. During the Pallava dynasty, art and culture flourished broadly, and Pallavas were interested in art-based works, so they mobilized the artists to build beautiful temples like Seashore temples. Every year in Jan and February, the government conducts the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival to promote traditional dance and tourism in Mahabalipuram.
Mahabalipuram Shore Temples:
Adi Varsha Perumal Cave:
The Adi Varsha Perumal Cave temple was the first carved Temple by Pallavas in Mahabalipuram. The Temple dedicated to Vishnu and Sanctum Sanatorium carved elaborate relief sculptures. The construction style is in the style of Pallava Architecture—the two relief sculptures of Pallava Kings Simhavishnu and Mahendravaraman I, accompanied by their respective wives.
The Trimurti cave is dedicated to Lord Brahma; we can see the richly carved sculptures and pillars in this cave with different postures.
The Mahishasuramardini Cave:
This cave can be found at a hilltop location. Hence this cave is dedicated to Goddess Durga, the incarnation of Shakti. She got this name after the slaying of the demon Mahishasura.
The Tiger Caves:
These caves are one of the Mahabalipuram Temples. The caves are a combination of designed pillars and sculptures. As a result, the sculptures are in the form of mythical creatures, lions and tigers. Almost these caves also contain the relief sculpture of Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha, who ruled the Pallava dynasty from 700 AD to 728 AD.