Mahamallapuram – Confluence of Heritage and Sea.

Into the sea

As part of our Vismaya ( www.vismayaforcause.org ) outing , I visited Mahamallapuram and this blog is a collection of my pictures , thoughts and commentary about the place.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tamil Nadu, India. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. A significant amount of coins and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre-existing trade relation with the Romans even before it became a part of the Pallava Empire.

Mahabalipuram’s early history is completely shrouded in mystery. Ancient mariners considered this place the land of the Seven Pagodas. There are others who think that Mahabalipuram suffered from a great flood between 10,000 and 13,000 BCE. Controversial historian Graham Hancock was one of the core members of a team of divers from Indian National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society based in Dorset, UK who surveyed the ocean bed near Mahabalipuram in 2002 CE. He is more inclined to believe the flood theory. His exploration also afforded him a fair glimpse of the vast extent of submerged ruins of the city. After his underwater exploration, he reportedly commented, “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject … But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Many opinions exist about the origin of the name of the site too. The most popular explanation is that the place is named after benevolent King Bali, also known as Mahabali. The ancient Indian text of Vishnu Puran documents his exploits. After sacrificing himself to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, he attained liberation. “Puram” is a Sanskrit term for a city or urban dwelling. Mamallapuram is the Prakrit version of the original Sanskrit name.

Architectural Master pieces (Pallava Gems)


During the rule of Mahendravarman I (600 CE – 630 CE), Mahablipuram started to flourish as a centre of art and culture. He himself was a well known poet, playwright and orator. His patronage helped the creation of a number of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This period of artistic excellence was duly continued by his son Narasimhavarman I (630 CE – 680 CE) and subsequent Pallava kings. Here are some of the Monuments

Shore Temple :

The Shore Temple (built in 700–728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. At the time of its creation, the site was a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.

Shore temple
Shore temple
Monolithic Tank
Monolithic Tank
Nandi and the temple
Nandi and the Temple
Bull and the temple
8th century Tank

Beaches and Life !

Mahabalipuram is also known for beach amidst the rocks and lagoon; It makes it a perfect combination of history, tourism and beaches ideal for vacation. The beach stretches for about 20 km and there are numerous lovely beaches present all along the coastline perfect for a little relaxation. Also, at this captivating beauty of Mahabalipuram a dance festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu every year where one can get to see extremely talented classical dancers performing against the backdrop of the sea.  Here are some images

Beach Blue hour
Beach Blue hour
Prayer
Prayer
Sunrise
Sunrise
Into the sea
Into the sea
Morning chores
About to be reclaimed
About to be reclaimed
Sea shells on sea shore
Sea shells on sea shore
Morning surf
Morning surf
Sunset
Sunset on the beach
In Love with the sea
Splash on the rock
Splash on the rock

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits :wikipedia

Frozen in Time- Lepakshi

Recently I had been to Lepakshi! This was my second visit. This time I wanted to shoot some different perspectives and also used a technique called hyper focal distance *** (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance ).

I also converted the images to monochrome , to eliminate the distractions  of colour and show the true character of the sculptures which have stood witness to grandeur  and also destruction.

Temple

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.The fresco paintings are particularly detailed in very bright dresses and colours with scenes of Rama and Krishna from the epic stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas and they are well preserved.

The temple was built in 1530  by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda. The cost of building the temple was sponsored by the government.According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

The presiding deity deified in the sanctum sanctorum is a near life-size image of Veerabhadra, fully armed and decorated with skulls. There is a cave chamber in the sanctum where sage Agasthya is said to have lived when he installed the image of the Linga here. The ceiling in the sanctum above the deity has paintings of the builders of the temple,Virupanna and Viranna, regally dressed and crowned with headgear similar to those adorning the Krishnadevaraya’s bronze statue in Tirupati. They are depicted, with their entourage, in a state of reverential prayer, being offered sacred ashes of their family deity.

 

Where is it located ?

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Poetry in stone  ( I will let the images speak for themselves )

 

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits : wikipedia

Lepakshi

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.

Location

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh

History

The temple was built in 1530 (1540 is also mentioned) by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda

According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

Mythology

Lepakshi’s origin has two interesting myths associated to it. But, both the tales are impregnated with grief and pain. But, he couldn’t withstand Ravana’s power and fell off to Earth after losing his wings. It is believed that Jatayu’s wings fell on the rocks here. When Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise (Le-Pakshi), the place got its name. Moreover, we can see footprints of Lord Rama at one of the rocks in Lepakshi.

Lape-Akshi

Another prominent legend is that Veerupanna and Veerana were two brothers who worked for the Vijayanagar King. Veerupanna’s son was blind since birth and it is believed that he got back his eyesight while playing around the Shivalinga in the temple premise. This story reached the king that Virupanna was using the royal treasury to cure his son. The king gave orders to take away Virupann’s eyesight and blind him.

Hearing this, Virupanna himself took off his eyes and threw them against the walls of the under constructed Kalyana Mantapa inside the temple premise. Thus, the place got its name as Lape-Akshi (village of the blinded eye). Even till date we can see blood stains on that wall and those stain marks has been confirmed as real blood stain marks by British scientist.

Le-Pakshi

This story originates from the epic Ramayana. It’s said that Jatayu had a furious battle with Ravana when he tried to rescue Sita from Ravana’s abduction attempt.

There is a very large Nandi (bull), mount of Shiva, about 200 metres (660 ft) away from the temple which is carved from a single block of stone, which is said to be one of the largest of

 

Here are some of my picture’s where I have tried to capture the beauty of this divine and enchanting place

 

 

Conclusion

Visit to Lepakshi is a divine experience in itself and it makes you wonder about the immaculate skills of artisans which were displayed in building this marvel. Their hard work and determination has been truly immortalized!

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