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Mamallapuram- Historical Significance

Mamallapuram- Historical Significance

The Shore Temple at Mamallapuram in the lap of the Bay of Bengal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Chinese president Xi Jinping on Friday and Saturday for the informal summit, is one of the cultural icons of the ancient Tamil architecture.

  • Mamallapuram has its origins in the word ‘Mamallan’, the title bestowed on Narasimhavarman II, the great king of the Pallava dynasty that existed between the 3rd and the 9th century. ‘Mamallan’ means ‘great wrestler’.The king’s story was immortalised by Tamil writer Kalki in the novel Sivagamiyin Sapatham.
  • Neolithic burial urn, cairn circles and jars with burials dating to the 1st century BC have been discovered near Mamallapuram
  • Chinese coins and Roman coins of  4th century CE have been found at Mamallapuram revealing the port as an active hub of global trade in the late classical period.
  • The coastal town of Mamallapuram is evocative of ancient maritime links between the Pallava empire and China 2,000 years ago. Bodhidharma, the founder of the Dhyan school of meditation at the Shaolin monastery in Henan province in China, hailed from this region
  • Two Pallava coins bearing legends read as Srihari and Srinidhi have been found at Mamallapuram.
  • Vaishnavite literature refers to the town as Mamallai or Kadalmallai, and the temple of Sthalasayana Perumal situated there is one among the 108 Vaishnavite shrines.
  • The Pallava kings ruled Mamallapuram from Kanchipuram; the capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 3rd century to 9th century CE, and used the port to launch trade and diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
  • Another name by which Mamallapuram has been known to mariners, at least since Marco Polo’s time is “Seven Pagodas” alluding to the Seven Pagodas of Mamallapuram that stood on the shore, of which one, the Shore Temple, survives.
  • The temples of Mamallapuram, portraying events described in the Mahabharata, were built largely during the reigns of King Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman and show the movement from rock-cut architecture to structural building. The city of Mamallapuram was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman Iin the 7th century AD
  • This group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva.
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