March 29, 2012

Mamallapuram Olakkanneshvara Temple

Site Name: Olakkanneshvara Temple
Site Type: Pallava architecture, temple, sculpture
Location:  1.5 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A famous heritage landmark of Mamallapuram; old light house
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 city of fine monuments and sculptures, is an ancient coastal city. It was an important port in those days. In spite of many monuments in the city, the Light House remains as an important and well known landmark. Near the new light house, the old light house which is actually a structural temple, which was probably built by Rajasimha Pallava, is located. It is called as Olakkanneshvara temple.

Olakkanneshvara temple is located above the hill where the Mahisasuramardini cave temple is carved out. However, this is not a cave temple; it's a structural temple. The temple tower is not present nowadays. In 18th century/19th century, the temple was used as a light house also. The temple which is not under worship nowadays can be reached through flight of steps carved in the rock.

The shrine doesn't have any idol nowadays. It could have been a Shiva temple. The external walls have sculptures of Shiva in various forms such as Dakshinamurti, Shiva slaying Yama and Nataraja. There is a sculpture where Raavan is trying to lift the Kailash mount where Shiva and Paravati are found seated. There are bas relief sculptures of dwarapalaks, dwarfs, lions and elephant heads available throughout the walls. Almost all the sculptures are ruined and also it is difficult to have a closer look of all the sides of walls.

A lovely place in Mamalllapuram, indeed....don't miss this place.

Happy travelling.

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