Mamallapuram – The Workshop of the Pallavas
Adi-Varaha Perumal Temple
This temple is in active worship since its inception as evident from its inscriptions. Being a living temple, entry of a foreign national was not allowed and this contributed to almost non-existence of this temple in the accounts of early European travelers and explorers. The scenario has not changed much, the temple being under worship, it is kept open only for a short period, in the morning and evening, during prayer times and for the rest of the time, it is kept closed. Due to this reason, this temple does appear in the itineraries of many modern age visitors and tourists. However obscure or inconvenient the access may be, this is the one of the best preserved and most complete temple belonging to the rock-cut architecture at Mamallapuram. The temple has been extended with later period structures, most probably during the sixteenth century CE when the town witnessed resurgence during the Vijayanagara period. A modern structure, in front of the temple obscures the view to the original shrine.
The original cave-temple faces west and measures 33 feet x 14 feet x 11.5 feet1. The rock face is excavated into a hall consisting of two bays. The front facade is supported on four pillars and two pilasters. The pillars have lion-bases with octagonal shafts above. The temple is dedicated to the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu, a stucco image of the icon is carved at the rear wall of the shrine. The image is heavily plastered and modified hiding all the feature of originality, if there is any. It would be difficult to ascertain whether the stucco image is on top of an old Pallava image or an addition during a later period. The sanctum is adorned with a mandapa in front, flanked with dvarpalas on either side. Lockwood2 mentions that one dvarpala has shankha (conch) and another has chakra (discus) carved on his head, suggesting that they represent the ayudha-purushas of Vishnu. This suggestion appears apt as the cave temple is dedicated to Vishnu therefore Vaishnava dvarpalas are expected to guard the shrine. Various sculptures executed on the lateral and rear walls, these are explained in detail below.
Shiva is represented as Gangadhara in the above panel. He is shown with four hands, one hand is shown extended out holding his tresses to hold river Ganga. Ganga, in her anthropomorphic form, is shown in one corner, descending towards Shiva. There are no attendants, devotees, mounts or other figures in this panel. Gangadhara seems to be a famous icon during the Pallava period. We have two Gangadhara images, which may be predated or contemporary to this image. One is the Gangadhara panel at Tiruchirappalli and another is an image on Dharmaraja Ratha in Mamallapuram. Gangadhara of Tiruchirappalli cave is considered a Pallava masterpiece and predates the panel here. Popularity of the Gangadhara theme in various Pallava edifices can have a significant bearing on the theme of the Great Penance panel, a topic discussed in detail in a different chapter.
Brahma adorns the space in the panel an opposite to the Gangadhara. He is shown with four hands, in one hand he carries rosary while one lower hand is placed over his waist and another lower hand is in abhaya-mudra. He is standing without any companion or devotees. The proportions of this image appears somewhat skewed as his upper arms are placed much away from his body.
Lakshmi is shown seated on a lotus pedestal and carrying lotuses in her two hands. She is accompanied with four maidens carrying water pots and other toiletries. Two elephants on top corners, flanked on her either side, are o]in process of spilling water in order to give bath to the goddess. She is popularly known as Gaja-Lakshmi when depicted in this form. The icon has generated much debate upon being influenced from the Buddhist icon where elephants are shown giving bath to queen Maya, mother of Buddha.
Facing Lakshmi, we find majestic panel depicting Durga. The Goddess is standing in tribhanga-mudra (three bends) over a buffalo head, the latter represents demon Mahishasura. She has eight hands and carrying shankha (conch), chakra (discus), dhanush (bow), khadga (sword), khetaka (shield) and ghanta (bell). A parrot is perched on her lower left arm wrist and it seems to be looking at what she is holding in her lower right hand. she definitely holds something in her lower right hand. It appears to be a blood-bowl as held by Chamunda or Kali. Behind the Goddess is her standard with trishula (trident) at its top. A lion and a deer, the two mounts of Durga, are shown in the upper corners. Near these animals are ganas, one on either side of Durga. She is accompanied with two female guardians, one bearing a bow and one sword and shield. There are two devotees near her feet. One of the devotee is process of cutting flash from his arm3. Presence of a deer as a mount of Goddess has led scholars to believe that the depiction here is of the victory goddess Korravai, as mentioned in the Tamil epic Silappattikaram. This topic of Korravai as Durga is taken in detail in our article on Varaha Mandapa.
Next, right side of the sanctum entrance, we find Harihara, a composite form of Shiva and Vishnu. He is shown with four hands carrying parashu (axe) and chakra (discus). He is shown standing below an umbrella or parasol. Two devotees, one on either side, are shown near his feet. H Krishna Sastri4 raised a doubt on this icon being identified as Harihara or Sankara-Narayana, as he mentions that the icon should hold an axe or trident in his right hand and conch in his left hand. As per him, the icon in this temple holds a chakra and rosary. He is right for chakra however this icon does not have rosary but an axe in this case therefore its identification as Harihara is correct.
A four-armed Vishnu image is placed on the left of the sanctum. Two devotees are shown kneeling near his feet. In the next niche is Shesha, shown with seven-hooded anthropomorphic character.
Now we come of the portrait sculptures of this cave. These portrait sculptures are one of those very few such sculptures found in the whole dimension of the Indian art of that period. These are the portraits of the Pallava kings and also bear inscriptions however the identity of these kings has not yet reached consensus among the scholar community.
In one panel we see a king seated, in sukhasana posture, on a seat, with two of his standing queens. The king’s one arm is in chin-mudra or contemplative posture, suggesting that he is professing some idea. Shown with minimal jewelry, the king and the queens compliment the serene environment of the temple. The inscription above this panel reads, “the glorious athiraja (adhiraja) Simhavinna-Potrra (simhavishnu-Pota)”. This Pallava king has been identified with the Pallava king Simhavishnu (560-580 CE) by Lockwood5, Gopalan6, Dehejia & Davis7, with the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE) by H Krishna Sastri8 and with the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha (700-728 CE) by R Nagaswamy9.
Opposite to the above panel, is another panel having portrait sculpture of another Pallava king. The king is shown standing with his two queens, and he has raised one hand pointing towards the Durga panel. He is holding hand of one of his queen, who might be the senior or chief queen. The inscription above the panel reads “the glorious athiraja (adhiraja) Mahendra-Pottra”. This king has been identified with the Pallava king Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE) by Lockwood10, S Krishna Sastri11, with the Pallava king Mahendravarman II (668-672 CE) by T V Mahalingam12 and the Pallava king Mahendravarman III by R Nagaswamy13. Lockwood mentions that these label inscriptions were engraved above the two portraits panels more than century after the creation of the temple.
Riddle of the imprecatory verse
Before we look into the case of the identification of the Pallava portraits, let us visit the riddle associated with the imprecatory verse engraved on the floor of this cave hall as this factor has considerable bearing on the case. This controversial verse speaks about a curse to those who do not follow Rudra or Shiva. Isn’t it very strange to find such a verse in a temple dedicated to Vishnu. Also is strange that this curse is engraved on the floor? Indeed it is surprising and therefore it is assumed that this verse would have been engraved after the construction of the temple. But by whom and why? What would be the reasons to engrave such a horrific verse cursing those who do not follow Rudra? It can be safely assumed that it was engraved by a staunch follower of Shiva. Mahendravarman I and his son, Narasimhavarman I can be ruled out as we do not find any such strict association with their character, either in the monuments they built not in the Pallava epigraphs.
We may also rule out Mahendravarman II, son and successor of Narasimhavarman I, as he ruled for a very brief period of 2-3 years. After him, there were only two Pallava kings, Parameshvaravarman I and Rajasimha, who may be taken as a strict follower of Shiva on the basis of their inscriptions and the temples constructed by them. Parameshvaravarman I, in his Vunna Guruvapalem grant14, is said to be staunch follower of Maheshvara (Shiva). Rajasimha, in his Reyuru grant15, is said to be staunch follower of Vishnu, Shiva and Subramanya. In a later grant, Udayendiram grant of Nandivarman II16, Rajasimha is said to be devout worshiper of Shiva. Though all the known temples of Rajasimha are dedicated to Shiva however he was not uniformly referred as a staunch follower of Shiva in his inscriptions. Therefore, Parameshvaravarman I seems to be a better fit for our case as his known temples were dedicated to Shiva and he professed himself a staunch follower of Shiva in his grants.
Support for Parameshvaravarman also comes from the Chola inscriptions found in this cave-temple, where the temple is referred as Parameshvara-mahavaraha-vishnu-griham. Does the phrase ‘Parameshvara’ stands Parameshvaravarman I or to Shiva? It should stand for the former as mahavaraha refers to the main deity of the temple and therefore the phrase Parameshvara should not be referring to Shiva. Thus, it suggests an association of this shrine with the Pallava king Parameshvaravarman. This also seems appropriate as in many instances the temple or the god enshrined inside is named after the donor or his/her parents in whose memory the temple is constructed. This all led to suggest that Parameshvaravarman I was also the responsible for engraving this imprecetory verse. We may therefore conclude that it was Parameshvaravarman I who consecrated this temple and he also engraved this imprecatory verse. But the question “why” remains unanswered. The temple was most probably started by his ancestors and in this case why he would do such a demeaning act. Support for this may come that as he is associated with very few temples at Mamallapuram and this imprecatory verse is found on all of those, when he consecrated this Vishnu temple, he also put the imprecatory verse, though it has no meaning to the context. However, there is no consensus among scholars on who was king who engraved this verse. Some favors Parameshvaravarman I17 and some go for Rajasimha18 however, majority going for the former.
An interesting fact is that we have few inscriptions at other places from the reign of Parameshvaravarman I where we do not find this verse. Also, we have many inscriptions of Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha other than Mamallapuram, and there also we do not find this verse. It appears that this verse is only applicable for the shrines at Mamallapuram but nowhere else.
Identification of the Pallava portrait sculptures
We have briefly discussed these portrait sculptures above and also seen the label inscriptions engraved over these panels. We have also discussed that this temple was consecrated during the reign of Parameshvaravarman I however its excavation might have been started during the reign of Narasimhavarman I. Let us discuss in detail about the identification of the kings shown in these portrait panels. First, lets have a look at various possibilities as the division of scholar community over the same.
|Case No||Initiator of the Temple||Completed by||Seated King (Sri-simhavishnu-pothrarajan)||Standing King (Sri-Mahendra-pothrarajan)||Supporters|
|Case 1||Simhavishnu (560-580 CE)||Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE)||Simhavishnu (560-580 CE)||Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE)||Aravamuthan19|
|Case 2||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Simhavishnu (560-580 CE)||Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE)||Sivaramamurti20, Dehejia21, Lockwood22, T N Ramachandran23, R Gopalan24, S Krishnaswami Aiyangar25, H Heras26|
|Case 3||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Parameshvaravarman I (672-700 CE)||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE)||Sastri27|
|Case 4||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Parameshvaravarman I (672-700 CE)||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Mahendravarman II (668-672 CE)||Srinivasan28, Mahalingam30, V Venkatasubba Ayyar31|
|Case 5||Narasimhavarman II (700-728 CE)||Narasimhavarman II (700-728 CE)||Narasimhavarman II (700-728 CE)||Mahendravarman III (did not rule)||Nagaswamy32|
|Case 6||Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)||Parameshvaravarman I (672-700 CE)||Simhavishnu (560-580 CE)||Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE)|
Case 1: Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I – This case is for the hypothesis that the excavation was finished during the reign of the Pallava king Mahendravarman, it may have been initiated during the reign of Simhavishnu or Mahendravarman I. Therefore, the portrait sculptures represent Mahendravarman I and his father, Simhavishnu as it would be appropriate for Mahendravarman I to show himself and his father in this Vishnu shrine. A big deterrent to this hypothesis is the general opinion about the non-involvement of Mahendravarman I with any monument at Mamallapuram. No doubt that the Pallava king in question was a great builder as well as a personality of great interest, however there is no proof of his involvement with any of the Mamallapuram monuments. In many of his cave-temples, Mahendravarman has left a good amount of foundation epigraphs, however none is found in Mamallapuram. Also, we have discussed before that the temple was consecrated during the reign of Parameshvaravarman I. Could it be the case, that the excavation was started in Mahendra’s time and got completed in Parameshvara’s time? This seems highly unlikely, as Narasimhavarman I, son and successor of Mahendravarman I, ruled for good forty years and this time was enough to complete and consecrate this temple, if it was started during Mahendra’s time, even if in his late years.
Case 2: Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I – This case arises provided the temple was conceived during the reign of Narasimhavarman I and completed within his reign. To honor his ancestors, Narasimhavarman I planned the portrait sculptures of his father and grand-father, Mahendravarman I and Simhavishnu respectively. This hypothesis has got the maximum support from the scholar community as it is generally believed that Narasimhavarman I his name to the town and started the sculptural movement by initiating many, if not all, the shrines we see now in Mamallapuram. A deterrent to this theory is the imprecatory verse found in this cave-temple. There are two possibilities, either the verse was engraved after the shrine was completed or it was engraved during the completion of the shrine. We have discussed above that the best possible scenario for this imprecatory verse is that it was engraved by the Pallava king Parameshvaravarman I while he completed and consecrated the shrine.
Case 3: Mahendravarman I and Narasimhavarman I – Not many scholars have proposed this identification, as I come across only H Krishna Sastri26 who has proposed such. Sastri studies the style of characters of the inscriptions and mentions that the characters resemble with the period of Parameshvaravarman I, when the script of the time of Mahendravarman I was not totally forgotten however new innovations were also taking place. There are two deterrents to this theory, first is the reliance on the style of characters when the period is very short like between Mahendravarman I and Parameshvaravarman I, about 70-80 years and second whether a son can be shown seated while his father depicted standing in an opposite panel.
Case 4: Narasimhavarman I and Mahendravarman II – The seated Pallava king could be Narasimhavarman I as he bore title “Simhavishnu” in his Badami inscription. The standing Pallava king might be his son, Mahendravarman II. Though Mahendravarman II ruled for a very short period, however he might be involved as the work continued during his reign. In this case, the only thing left for Parameshvaravarman I was to complete and consecrate the god in his name. And portraits of his father and grand-father, adoring this temple, would be very appropriate for Parameshvaravarman I. And probably this might be the reason, that though he was staunch Shaiva, but he consecrated this temple as the temple had royal statues and may be seen as the Pallava royal temple. But why Parameshvaravarman I did not put his portrait in the temple? There can be three theories, first the panels were more or less complete by his time disallowing him to do any changes. The second theory is that as it was a Vishnu temple therefore the be being a staunch Shaiva was not much interested in design. The third theory is the general practice during his time of not installing images of living beings. A support for the third theory comes from Partimanatakam of Bhasa29.
भरतः – भवन्तं किञ्चितप्रच्छामि । धरमाणानामपि प्रतिमा: स्थाप्यन्ते !
देवकुलिक: – न खलु अतिक्रान्ता नामेव ।
When Bharata returned to Ayodhya, after hearing the episode of Rama-vanavasa, he stayed on the outskirts of the city waiting for the right mahurta to enter. There was a royal temple at the outskirts and Bharata had a look inside. He found portrait images of his ancestors Raghu, Dileepa and Aja. When Bharat asked the caretaker whether the images of living people are installed, the attendant answered in negative stating that images of dead people are only installed. If this is the case indeed, we get an answer why there is no portrait image of Parameshvaravarman I though it was during his reign, the temple got consecrated.
Case 5: Rajasimha and Mahendravarman III – This hypothesis suggests that the seated king represents the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha and the standing king represents his son, Mahendravarman III. It is evident in the Kailasanatha temple at Kancheepuram where both the kings were involved in the construction of the temple and therefore the same might be the case with this cave temple as well. One issue with this theory is whether Rajasimha bore the title “Simavishnu” or not? In his Kancheepuram inscription, where more than hundred of his titles are mentioned, this particular title is not mentioned. Also this title is not found in any of his other inscriptions, in this case how to ascertain that this Simhavishnu is Rajasimha? Another issue to tackle here is the imprecatory verse. Dehejia mentions that it was Rajasimha however we have seen above that the case of Parameshvaravarman I behind this verse is very strong.
Case 6: Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I – This theory is what we would like to propose. The suggestion here is that the cave-temple was started during the reign of Narasimhavarman I however it was not completely finished within his time. When the cave-temple was conceived during the time of Narasimhavarman I, the panels were to depict Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I, the two immediate ancestors of Narasimhavarman I. Portrait of Narasimhavarman I was not conceived as he was the living king. Whatever was left incomplete in the temple, and we believe it might be only the final decorative, was completed during the reign of Parameshvaravarman I. This allowed him to consecrate the temple but did not leave him any scope to interfere with the design as most of the panels were more of less done or in the final stages. Therefore these portrait panels may represent Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I.
Conclusion – The imprecatory verse found at Mamallapuram is associated with Parameshvaravarman I as there is no other Pallava king fitting in the context. However it would be really interesting to understand why this verse was included only in the inscriptions at Mamallapuram. The Pallava kings in the portraits should be identified with Simhavishnu and Mahendravarman I as other suggested cases do not fit to the context as discussed above.
- Above the panel displaying a seated Pallava king33 – not dated – reads “Sri Simhavinna-Potrathirajan”, translates “the glorious athiraja (adhiraja) Simhavinna-Potrra (simhavishnu-Pota)”
- Above the panel displaying another standing Pallava king34 – not dated- reads “Sri Mahendra-Potrathirajan”, translates “the glorious athiraja (adhiraja) Mahendra-Pottra”
- On the lintel above the Harihara image35 – not dated – Enumerates ten incarnations of Vishnu, as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Rama, Rama, Buddha and Kalkin. The three Ramas of the inscriptions should be taken as Parashurama, Rama the son of Dasharatha and Balarama.
- On a slab built into the floor in front of the temple, near bali-pitha36 – refers to the Pallava king Nandivarman II – dated to sixty-fifth regnal year, corresponding 796 CE – mentions purchase of land by Idaivalanchan Kandan, son of Ilam-Paduvumar, the headman of Kunrattur in Amur-nadu, a merchant of Mamallapuram, in lieu of gold. Boundaries of the land are specified. Among the boundary are two tanks, Kon-eri and Mandai-talaivan-eri.
- On the floor of the mandapa37 – “Six times cursed be those, in whose, hearts does not dwell Rudra (Siva), the deliverer from the walking on the evil path”
- On a niche in the temple38 – refers to the reign of the Chola king Rajendra II – dated in the ninth regnal year, corresponding 1061 CE – The Chola king is referred as Parakesarivarman alias Udaiyar Sri Rajendra-deva. It records a tax free gift of land by the nagarams and perilamai of Mamallapuram alias Jananathapuram to the god Sri Parameshvara-Mahavaraha-Vishnhu-griha. Mamallapuram was a nagaram in Amur-nadu in Amurk-kottam, a sub division of Jayangondachala-mandalam.
- On a niche in the temple39 – refers to the Chola king Rajendra II – date is not clear, approximate date 1052 CE – mentions a tax-free land donation to the temple of Parameshvara-mahavaraha-vishnu-grihattalvar at Mamallapuram by the village of Tiruvelichchil.
1 Longhurst, A H (1928). Pallava Architecture Part II. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 33
2 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. p 147
3 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. p 144
4 Sastri, H Krishna (1926). Two Statues of Pallava Kings and five Pallava Inscriptions in a rock-cut Temple at Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 2
5 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. p 140
6 Gopalan, R (1928). History of the Pallavas of Kanchi. University of Madras. Chennai. p 87
7 Dehejia, Vidya & Davis, Richard (2010). Addition, Erasure and Adaptations: Interventions in the Rock-cut Monuments of Mamallapuram published in Archives of Asian Art vol. 60. p 4
8 Sastri, H Krishna (1926). Two Statues of Pallava Kings and five Pallava Inscriptions in a rock-cut Temple at Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 4
9 Nagaswamy, R (2008). Mahabalipuram. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. ISBN 9780198071273.
10 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. p 142
11 Sastri, H Krishna (1926). Two Statues of Pallava Kings and five Pallava Inscriptions in a rock-cut Temple at Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 4
12 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. pp 145
13 Nagaswamy, R (2008). Mahabalipuram. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. ISBN 9780198071273
14 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. pp 148-51
15 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. pp 169-72
16 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. pp 227-39
17 Sastri, H Krishna (1926). Two Statues of Pallava Kings and five Pallava Inscriptions in a rock-cut Temple at Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 7 | Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. p 149 | Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. p 167
18 Dehejia, Vidya & Davis, Richard (2010). Addition, Erasure and Adaptations: Interventions in the Rock-cut Monuments of Mamallapuram published in Archives of Asian Art vol. 60. p 4
19 Aravamuthan, T G (1931). Portrait Sculpturein South India. The India Society. London. p 24
20 Sivaramamurti, C (1952). Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 19
21 Dehejia, Vidya & Davis, Richard (2010). Addition, Erasure and Adaptations: Interventions in the Rock-cut Monuments of Mamallapuram published in Archives of Asian Art vol. 60. p 4
22 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram – A Guide to the Monuments. Tambaram Research Associates. Chennai. pp 140-142
23 Ramachandran, T N (1933). The Royal Artist, Mahendravarman I.
24 Gopalan, R (1928). History of the Pallavas of Kanchi. University of Madras. Chennai. p 88
25 Aiyangar, Krishnaswami S (1917). The Antiquities of Mahabalipur published in the Indian Antiquary vol. xlvi. p 31
26 Heras, H (1933). Studies in Pallava History. B G Paul and Co. Madras. p 72
27 Sastri, H Krishna (1926). Two Statues of Pallava Kings and five Pallava Inscriptions in a rock-cut Temple at Mahabalipuram. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 4
28 Srinivasan, K R (1964). Cave-Temples of the Pallavas. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 173
29 Pratimanatakam of Bhasa. The Kashi Sanskrit Series 276, third chapter, p100
30 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. p 141 & p 145
31 South Indian Inscriptions vol. XII, no 17 & 18
32 Nagaswamy, R (2008). Mahabalipuram. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. ISBN 9780198071273. p 25
33 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. p 141
34 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. p 145
35 cg 100 of A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamilnadu and Kerala States vol. III
36 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. pp 323-24
37 Mahalingam, T V (1988). Inscriptions of the Pallavas. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi. p 167
38 cg 108 of A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala States vol. III
39 cg 109 of A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala States vol. III
awesome. keep up the good work
Wonderful revelation to us.I feel sad to have missed it despite numerous visits to Mahabalipuram. Next time I would make it thanks to your efforts. By the way the village Thiruvidanthai close to this place has a big temple also for Varaha Perumal and is known as Nitya Kalyana Perumal Kovil. Perhaps you know this for sure. Keep it up.
Its nice to see good piece, but i missed the trip. You should also come and see our side of tamil nadu
@Ramasundaram – It would be my pleasure to visit your side of Tamilnadu. Please give me more information on that part of yours.
@Krishnan – I am not aware of that temple in nearby village, may you please throw some light on its antiquity so that I can plan to visit that next time.
Darn, missed Adi-Varaha cave. Still in worship, or locked, that explains it. I've always arrived at Mallai mid- to late-afternoon. Kept seeing other photos of your images and wondering where they'd come from? Now I know. Thanks so much for solving that puzzle for me.
You're doing wonderful work. The Bharat Govt. should be grateful.
Thanks for encouraging comments, however I am just putting all the information from reference books into a single page, so I believe that we should be grateful to all those scholars who did such wonderful research. My effort is very minimal in comparison to theirs.
Very thorough account. I am sure it would be very useful for someone who is interested in visiting Mahabalipuram with a serious interest in sculpturing etc. If I am not wrong, this place is called the birth place of sculpturing.
I have made a fleeting visit on the way to Chennai from Pondicherry.
Nandan – http://www.ghumakkar.com
wonderful photos sourabh,
there are two more panels chiseled off in the Ramanuja mandaba apart from the somaskanda panel n the door guardians. The somaskanda panel is also very valuable
another important info to notice in the konneri mandabam is the framing on the back wall of the Garba graham – its a provision to insert a panel – wooden maybe – somaskanda ?
Great pics sourabh! I would like to be able to use the gajalakshmi shot for a calander I am trying to print.I cant pay you for it but can certainly give you credit. The calander is not for commercial sale but only for personal distribution. i can send you a copy once printed. Do confirm
Yes sure you can use the picture for your calendar. Please mail me at [email protected], I will send you the original one so that you can have a good quality printout.
Please do send me your calendar, I would love to keep that on my office desk.
Your blog was extremely useful to me….I am planning a trip along the lines you ve seen yourself…
About the [email protected] has posted…It is in Thiruvendathai…It is among the 108 divya desams of Vaishnavas and is extremely beautiful…It is on the ECR road from Mahabalipuram towards Pondicherry…an arch proclaims the place on the right hand side.
Thanks for this information, I will try to visit this temple in my next trip to Mahabalipuram.
Dear Saurabh Great Goldmine of Information and images. I am planning to visit Mamallapuram in late November. I tried to search the cave temples listed in your posts on Google map but was unable to do so. May I request you if such a map indicating location of all the monuments in the series could be made available as a link; would be very useful for people following in your footsteps. Thank you.
I have started such a map but it is incomplete as I couldnot find all the monuments reffered.
Mamallapuram is a small village and most of the temples are located on a small hill. You will not find difficulties in locating them, of course you can take some help from locals to locate few which are relatively lesser known cave temples. Your idea of providing a map with locations of all the temples is a very good suggestion and I will work on it. Once it is completed, i will share the map link with you. However, you please proceed with your trip and be assured that you will not find difficulties in locating these temples. Enjoy your trip and be ready to be mesmerized by this little town.
Incidentally, Prof Sankara Narayanan, Sanskrit professor at Kanchi Chandrasekara Sarasvati Vishva Vidyalaya, says that the “imprecatory verse” beginning “Dik tesham” is a sloka from the Mahabharatha. Remarkably no other scholar has noticed or mentioned this earlier. I think we have strong reasons to question it’s categorization as a statement of a Shaiva fanatic…or Parama Maaheshvara Pallava in this case
Hi Gopu, more information on this might be helpful. If this phrase is a part of sloka in MB, how does it changes the meaning of the inscription? In what respect this phrase is used in MB and is this the same context in this inscription? I believe a phrase can change its meaning used in different contexts, this might be the case here as well, as I am not a Sanskrit scholar therefore I cannot comment further. However to the interest of the readers, if you can provide more information, then we can take this discussion forward.
One of the remarkable aspects of the depiction of Brahma, is that he seems to blessing devotees with his LEFT hand. This has been noticed and noted by others, but no explanation has been suggested.