February 27, 2012

The Unfinished Bas Relief of Mamallapuram

Site Name: The unfinished bas relief
Site Type: Open air bas relief, Monument
Location:  1.5 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important tourist site and ancient monument in South India
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town


Mamallapuram, the town near Chennai city in South India, is full of rock cut temples and beautiful sculptures. Although there are many monuments present in the town, only few of them such as Shore Temple and Arjuna's Penance have become very popular. There is an unfinished bas relief something similar to that of Arjuna's Penance bas relief. This unfinished monument is obviously not as beautiful as the finished monument. However, it is definitely a good one and worth watching.


The unfinished bas relief is located behind the light house. The sculptures carved on the rock are similar to that of Arjuna's Penance monument. The sculptures of elephants, celestial couples, lion, deer, other animals, devas, saints, Lord Shiva and Arjun are found in this work similar to that of the finished monument. However, the position of Shiva and Arjun are different and the shrine with Vishnu is missing in this monument.


It is not known what would have been the objective of this work. There is a possibility that the artists would have started this a model work before starting the actual work. Or else, two sets of artists could have competed with each other and worked on two different sites based on the same theme. Whatever be the reason behind the monument and although it isunfinished, it is defintely one of the marvels from Pallavas.



When you go to Mamallapuram, go and visit this unfinished Arjuana's penance along with the finished monument.


Happy travelling.

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