March 23, 2012

Mamallapuram Ganesha Ratha

Site Name: Ganesha Ratha
Site Type: Monument, Heritage, Temple, Ratha
Location:  1.2 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the most complete ratha in Mamallapuram
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 heritage town of the Pallava kings, located near Chennai city in South India, is full of sculptural marvels. Some of the monuments such as Shore temple, Arjuna's Penance and Five Rathas are very popular among the tourists. Apart from these popular sites where the tourists throng in great numbers, there are many small but beautiful monuments found across the entire town. Ganesh Ratha is one such monument which is a good monument but not so popular.

Ganesh Ratha is located on the backside of the popular Arjuna's Penance monument. This is considered as one of most complete ratha in Mamallapuram. This shrine is supposed to be dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, local people had placed the idol of Ganesha in the late 19th century CE and hence the ratha got the name as Ganesh Ratha. Although the original idol of Shiva was discovered later, due to opposition from the villagers it was not installed in the shrine. (There are differences of opinion about this information.)

The architecture of Ganesh Ratha resembles Bhima Ratha of Five Rathas. It has two upper storeys with a wagon roof. The west facing ratha has a cell excavated at the centre where Ganesha idol is installed. The frontal facade is supported by two lion base pillars and two lion base pilasters. The cornice is found above the pillars and above that oblong and square shaped mini shrines are found. Almost similar arrangement is seen in the second floor also. On top of everything, a trishul image with a human face carved within it is found. 

As per the inscription found in this ratha, it was constructed by a Pallava king named Atyantakama.
When you go to Mamallapuram, I am sure you will not miss Arjuna's Penance. Along with that, ensure that you do not miss this monument also.
Happy travelling.

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