March 30, 2012

Mamallapuram Koneri Mandapa

Site Name: Koneri Mandapa
Site Type: Pallava architecture, temple, sculpture
Location:  2 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A little known heritage site 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

There are many historical monuments in Mamallapuram, the city of historical sculptures. Some of the monuments are very popular; some of them are little known; there are also few monuments which are literally unknown. Koneri Mandapa is one such monument which is commonly not known even to the citizens of Mamallapuram.

A sculpture near Koneri Tank
The monument is located at a distance of around 0.5 km from Koneri tank. Koneri tank is a well known landmark in Mamallapuram. Unfortunately, the monument located near the tank has not become popular as the tank. The tank is located at the backside of the hill where all the monuments are located. From the tank, if you travel for about 300 m to 400 m, you can find a small pond like pit filled with water. Near that, there is a small stone bed with lion faced stone pillow. If you travel further for another 300 m, you will reach Koneri Mandapa. The other way to reach Koneri Mandapa is from a little known passage near Trimurti cave temple. It is unfortunate that both the paths to Koneri Mandapa are not safe. People dealing with illegal activities or drinking alcohol are generally found in these places.

Koneri Mandapa
The west facing Koneri Mandapa is a five celled pillared hall. Two rows of pillars are found in the mandapa. The cornice of the cave temple on the front facade has nine horse shoe shaped windows. Above that few miniature shrines are found. The roof is left unfinished. All the five cells are found empty nowadays. Based on the different shapes of dwarapalak images carved at the entrance of each shrine, the scholars believe that these shrines are dedicated to five different forms of Lord Shiva.

Koneri Mandapa and Unfinished Mandapa
There is another west facing cave located north of Koneri Mandapa. It is excavated into the same rock. The front facade is supported by four thick pillars and two pilasters. 

Happy travelling.

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