Mahishasuramardini Cave, Mahabalipuram

The Mahishasuramardini cave, also known as the Mahishamardini mandapa, is found at the southern end of the site (known locally as Yamapuri). Excavated on the eastern scarp of a boulder on the main Mamallapuram hill, above it are the ruins of the Olakkannesvara temple. According to Ramaswami, the temple is unfinished but what has been carved…

Olakkanesvara temple, Mahabalipuram

The Olakkanesvara temple is perched on the rock above the Mahishamardini cave temple. It is also known as the Old Lighthouse because of its conversion by British officials. The temple, built in the early 8th century from grey granite cut into blocks, is credited to King Rajasimha. It is severely damaged, and its superstructure is missing;…

The Tiger Cave, Mahabalipuram

The Tiger Cave is a rock-cut Hindu temple complex located in the hamlet of Saluvankuppam near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. It gets its name from the carvings of tiger heads on the mouth of a cave which forms a part of the complex. The Tiger Cave is considered to be one of the Mahabalipuram…

Ganesha Ratha, Mahabalipuram

It is one of ten rathas (“chariots”) carved out of pink granite within the group of monuments of the Pallava Period at Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site since 1984. The ratha is an example of monolith Indian rock-cut architecture dating from the late seventh century during the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his…

Descent of the Ganges, Mahabalipuram

The Arjuna relief is in the centre of Mahabalipuram, facing the sea at a short distance from the shores of the Coramandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal where the Shore Temple is situated.  Layout The relief faces east. It was created with great skill and imagination on two large boulders of pink granite in the open air giving…

Pancha Ratha temples, Mahabalipuram

The ratha temples, in southern Mahabalipuram, are carved in the shape of chariots. Their artists used naturally-occurring blocks of diorite and granite in sand, carving legends in stone. The best-known are the five monolithic structures projecting above the beach, known as the Five Rathas or the Pandava Rathas; in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are five brothers and their common wife, Draupadi. Although the symbolism and grouping…

Krishna’s Butterball, Mahabalipuram

Krishna’s Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal and Krishna’s Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline in the historical town of Mahabalipuram. The boulder is approximately 6 meters high and 5 meters wide and weighs around 250 tons. It stands on an approximately 1.2-meter (4 ft) base on a…

Cave temples, Mahabalipuram

Mandapa is a Sanskrit term for a typically-square vestibule, pillared hall or pavilion. It was a space for people to gather socially, usually for ceremonies and rite-of-passage rituals. Cells or sanctums would often be included, creating a vihara. Mandapas also refer to rock-cut cave temples or shrines, built according to the same concept, and Mamallapuram has many mandapas dated…

Shore Temple , Mahabalipuram

Standing like a magnificent fist of rock-cut elegance overlooking the sea, surrounded by gardens and ruined courts, the two-towered Shore Temple symbolises the heights of Pallava architecture and the maritime ambitions of the Pallava kings. Its small size belies its excellent proportion and the supreme quality of the carvings, many now eroded into vaguely Impressionist…

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

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…