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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February 26, 2012

Mamallapuram Shore Temple


Site Name: Shore Temple
Site Type: Monument

Location:  2 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (70 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, full of sculptures and monuments, is a very important tourist site in South India. The town is also called as Mahabalipuram. It is a small coastal town located near Chennai, the gateway to South India. This town is one of the oldest sea ports in South India. There are references about this historical town even in the literature of 5th or 6th century AD.

Different Types of Monuments:

Shore Temple
The historical and tourist town of Mamallapuram is popular due to its ancient monuments and sculptures of Pallava kings. The monuments of Mamallapuram can be categorized into cave temples, monoliths or rathas, bas reliefs and structural temples. Pallava king Mahendravarman I constructed cave temples. His successor Narasimhavarman I (popularly called as Mamallan) started constructing monolith monuments (in addition to constructing cave temples). Both these types of monuments were constructed by his successor Parameshvaravarman I. His successor Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II introduced structural temples.

Shore Temple:

Shore Temple (called as Kadarkarai Koil in Tamil language) is one of the prominent monuments of Mamallapuram. It is a structural temple located at the sea shore, hence called as Shore Temple. It is believed to have been built during the reign of Rajasimha Narasimhavarman II (700-728 AD). This high rising monument might have acted as a landmark for the ships in those days. Hence, it perhaps, due to this temple, the town was named as 'Seven Pagodas' by the Europeans in the olden days. Although it is widely believed that there are six other similar temples buried under the sea, there is no records for that and ASI couldn't discover the same so far.

Shore Temple
The temple complex has three different temples and all of them are raised above the same platform. Only two temple towers survive today, but the third one is missing. The temple with larger tower faces the eastern direction towards the sea whereas the temple with small tower faces the western direction. Both the towers are pyramidal stepped which is topped with an octagonal sikhara and stupid above this.

The entire temple compound is covered by prakara coped with Nandi idols.



Temple #1:

The temple with larger tower has a big Shiv Linga idol in the main shrine. The upper part of the idol is broken. There is a Somaskanda (Shiva, Parvati and Skanda) panel at the wall behind the Linga. On either sides of Somaskanda the sculptures of Brahma and Vishnu are found. The external walls of the shrine has the sculptures of Durga and Shiva as Tripurantaka; also there are many sculptures in ruined condition.

Shiva Temple, Shore Temple Complex

Temple #2:

The middle temple is dedicated to Anantasayana - Vishnu in the sleeping posture. Here, the ruined sculpture of Vishnu with four arms is found lying on Sesha, the divine serpent. The temple's tower is not existing. The external walls of the shrine has sculptures such as Krishna slaying the demon Kesi, Krishna dancing on Kaliya serpent, Vishnu on Garuda rescuing Gajendra elephant from the crocodile, etc.

Anantasayana at Shore Temple

Temple #3:

The third temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, where the Somaskanda panel is found at the back wall of the shrine. The external walls has the sculpture of Ekpadamurti - one body, one leg with three heads depicting Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and another sculpture of Nagaraj under the five hoods of a serpent.

Somaskanda Panel

Varaha Temple:

The Shore Temple compound also has a separate circular shrine, which was discovered in a recent excavation. The circular shrine has the circular shikara. The idol of Varaha (the boar God) is found outside the circular shrine.

Varaha Shrine

Lion Image:

A monolithic lion image with open torso is also found in the compound. A carved miniature image of Durga is found inside the back of the hole. A female guardian is found sitting on lion's leg holding a bow and the bull (depicting the demon Mahisa) without the head is found near the lion.


Monolithic Lion Image

There are few Pallava period inscriptions found in the temple. From those inscriptions, it appears that Vishnu temple was constructed first and the place was referred as Jalasayana in those days.

If you travel to South India, you should not miss to visit Mamallapuram. If you go to Mamallapuram, you should not miss this extraordinary Shore Temple, the architectural marvel of Pallava kings.

Happy travelling.





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February 25, 2012

India Gate

Site Name: India Gate
Site Type: Monument
Location:  New Delhi, India
Highlights: An important monument in India; one of the most prominent tourist sites of Delhi city
Nearest Railway Station: New Delhi
Nearest Airport: New Delhi
How to reach: Well connected from all over India - Road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options - budget hotels to star hotels
Restaurants: Many options and varieties throughout the city of Delhi

India Gate is arguably the most important spot in New Delhi, the capital city of India. This national monument of India was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1931 AD.

India Gate was originally called as All India War Memorial. It commemorates the 90,000 soldiers who lost their lives for British India during the World War I and 3rd Anglo Afghan War.

The vacant canopy found near India Gate had the statue of the British King George V till Indian independence. Later, it was relocated to some other site.

India Gate is located at the heart of New Delhi city at a strategic location near Rashtrapathi Bhavan and Indian Parliament. The well maintained lawns around the 42 metre tall India Gate throng with thousands of people during the evening. It's a popular picnic spot for the citizens of New Delhi.

Under the arch of India Gate, Amar Jawan Jyoti was opened in 1971 AD. It is a black marble cenotaph dedicated for the unknown soldier.

If you visit Delhi, whatever you miss, it is fine; but you should neve miss to visit the great monument, especially in the evening time.

Happy travelling.

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February 20, 2012

The Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Site Name: The Gallery of Modern Art
Site Type: Museum
Location:  Near India Gate, New Delhi, India
Highlights: An important art museum of India
Nearest Railway Station: New Delhi
Nearest Airport: New Delhi
How to reach: Well connected from all over India - Road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options - budget hotels to star hotels
Restaurants: Many options and varieties throughout the city of Delhi

There are many museums in New Delhi, the capital city of India. The National Gallery of Modern Art is an unique and prominent one among them.

The main museum of Moder Art was estabilished in New Delhi in 1954 and the branches were opened in other Indian cities subsequently. The museum, a prominent Indian art gallery, has around 14,000 works including works from great artists such as Raja Ravi Varma, Rabindranath Tagore and Thomas Daniell. Apart from the paintings, there are modern sculptures too found in the museum.

The museum is located at the end of Rajpath, facing the India Gate, in New Delhi. As the building was the erstwhile palace of Jaipur Maharaja, the building is also called as "Jaipur House".

A unique place in Delhi which should not be missed.

Happy travelling.

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