When Rocks come Alive

Have you ever experienced the beauty of sculptures in India? India is a land of intrigue and myths and legends. There are so many places in India which attribute their fame and popularity to the sheer structures around. While you are on vacation in South East Asia exotic beaches, you would find yourself surrounded by incessant architectural elegance and extensive structural brilliance.

One such place is Mammallapuram or Mahabalipuram. Situated near the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, this town lies in the district of Kancheepuram. With an elevation of around 12 meters, this city is very famous for its sculptural beauty. It is also popular as the area where King Narasmihavarman I the famous Indian Pallava king used to practice wresting. Today this land is a famous World Heritage Site approved by UNESCO.

With the rock cut beauty here, the monolithic rocks bring this place to life. Constructed in the early Dravidian era, the architecture distinctly resembles elements of Buddhist sculptures too. The chariots and the sculptured beauty dominate the entire place. There are innumerable pillars and caves and one gets completely overwhelmed by the ancient ambience here. The Pallava art is showcased in an extremely creative manner.

Earlier this was the place where young sculptors were taught the art of sculpting statues. There are many half finished sculptures here, depicting the fact that it might have been left incomplete by the teachers who used to teach the art here,. There is a sculpture of a chariot with five chariots. Each is carved in a different manner showing that students might have done it. There is lot of evidence to prove that these sculptures have been sculpted after a great deal of thought by skilled artists. The Lord Vishnu temple has beautiful sculpted structures and was built by the Pallava king. This was built to protect the stone beauties from the surging ocean.

Some important structures include the temple of the Indian god Lord Vishnu which was constructed by a Pallava king so that the sculptures could be protected from the onslaught of the ocean. It is believed that after this temple was built, the sculptures remained intact. Then we have the huge open air bas structure which depicts the descent of the River Ganga. The sculpture which shows the Penance of Arjuna is another gigantic structure. Taken from the Indian Epic Mahabharata this structure is intriguing .

A tour round Mahabalipuram reveals some of the best sculptures ever made. The Varaha Cave temple is another such example. Cut out of rocks, this temple dates back to the 7th century. A temple near the Bay of Bengal reveals the structural elegance. It has an entry from the western portion of the sea. excavations recently made have revealed more structures . This temple was destroyed by the sea and has been rebuilt laying each stone again.
The Five Chariot structure built after the epic Pandavas is another interesting structure as it is carved from one single rock.

Thus Mahabalipuram or the land of the Seven Pagodas is a place to reckon with and a must spot for architecture lovers.

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