Mahabalipuram – a town with art
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is an ancient town with artistic sculptures available throughout its coastal area. It was the ruling capital of the pallava dynasty, whose kings ruled considerable places of southern India between 275 CE to 897 CE. I have visited it last year and meaning to write a post about it. Now I got the chance. Sorry for the late post!
I hopped on a city bus to Mahabalipuram from Tambaram. It was the christmas day. So the bus stand was fully crowded. I had to literally push myself into the bus amidst the thronging crowd, otherwise I wouldnt get a seat. And I don’t want to travel standing in a bus. It is an hour long journey and only the residents of chennai knows what is its like to travel in a crowded bus.
Luckily I got a seat and the trip began peacefully. I reached in an hour.
The bus dropped all the passengers in the bus stand. I started walking towards the Five rathas. Five rathas are 5 stone temples carved and statued in the sand. They all are lined up next to each other. I have been there years before so I couldnt figure out the directions to reach it. From the bus station there were sign boards directing towards Five rathas and the Light house. I followed the sign boards and moved along the lines of people. After nearly 15 minute walk, I was crossing the Old light house and a near by cave temple on the way. I diverted my path and began to ascend the steps towards the light house. On the way I saw people climbing up the rocky steps on my left that led to a view point. This view point gave the sea shore view along with the town from a height of about 40 feet.
I moved and walked towards the light house. It was very windy and a big line of people waiting to climb the top.
My expectation was to sit and stare the beautiful five rathas. Alas !- I underestimated the crowd!. Amidst the crowd I had to look for the temples 🙂
I spent nearly an hour in Five rathas wandering all the sides to get a good view of the sculptures. I have been to Mahabalipuram few times. So I am familiar with what I can expect to see. The presence of crowd hindered my view of the temples but I managed to get the good views as much as possible. Most people were photo/selfie enthusiasts who were taking all varieties of pictures! There is a beautiful single stone elephant and a lion of 5 feet height. On their left side are 3 temples with scultpures adorning their roof and sides.
Here are some pictures I captured:
After the five rathas, I went to visit the shore temple. It was a long walk from the main road towards the shore. Again I didn’t miss the crowd. This time it was higher. The shore temple is almost inside the sea. The government had placed barricades and put up a fence so that the sea waves do not damage the existing temple. There were a row of 5 temples, but now only one remains as all others got eroded by sea water and got sunken inside.
The shore temple throws an attractive backdrop and brings calmness when watching it from far beyond. The intricate carvings and the temple tower are quite a sight to watch. Behind the temple is the roaring sea waves- strong and deep. You will get an exciting view. Outside the shore temple is a small compound adorned by bull carvings. In ancient times, this must have been a bigger temple with huge compound walls, now only few remains.
After visiting the shore temple it was almost sunset. I walked back towards the bus station. On the way, I came across Bheema’s butter ball and Arjuna’s tapas wall. Arjuna’s tapas is a wall full of carvings describing the tapas of Arjuna. It is also called as the Bhagiratha’s tapas ‘descent of the Ganges‘ , to bring the Ganges river to the earth.
Bheema’s butter ball is a single rock standing on its own without any support. It is a bit slippery to climb up and see this ball. But its fun to go near and see!
As it was a holiday, I struggled in finding a return bus without the crowd, I managed to get one after half an hour’s wait. All in all, the pleasure of watching these art figures made me forget the strains in travel.
It is a total comforting moment to watch all these sculptures. Being near the sea, Mahabalipuram serves as the perfect picnic spot for art lovers and kids. You can easily spend a day there. Visit it during the winter days so you will not feel the sun and can enjoy great walks within the town.