Tuesday, 31 March 2015

HERITAGE TOUR - PALLAVA PERIOD ROCK CUT CAVES AND TEMPLES FROM CHENNAI TO MAMALLAPURAM - MAHAPALIPURAM ON EAST COAST ROAD (ECR)

31st MARCH, 2015.
On 29th March 2015, accompanied with the health workers of ACM Medical foundation tour organised for Mahapalipuram. In this tour we covered the Dhakshin Chitra, Crocodile Park, Thiruvidanthai, Mahapalipuram  ( Shore Temple, 5 Raths and Hill caves,  Arjunan’s Penance and Sthala Sayanaperumal Temple ), which are on the way from Chennai to Mamallapuram. . It has become a Heritage Tour, since the places covered are world heritage sites and historical important monuments. All most all the places are comes under the Archaeological Survey Of India ( ASI).  The crow was moderate and foreigners also visited along with us. The Mamallapuram was once a sea port for the Pallava Kings and  their participation was large. 
  
DHAKSHIN CHITRA  HERITAGE MUSEUM
The Dhakshin Chitra heritage museum was founded  in 1996 and run by Madras Craft Foundation  an NGO. The museum has 18 authentic historical  houses from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh  with  rare & historical material, sculptures, antique musical instrument, artistic material are exhibited.  The houses were purchased, dismantled and brought to place and re constructed with out any deviation from the original. In Tamil Nadu houses it is like a small village comprising of Nattukkottai  Chettiars’  house, Weavers house, Potters house, a Brahmin’s house. There is an Iyyanar Temple too. In the weavers house a live demo of weaving the sari is done. In the potter’s house making of pot is demonstrated and school children are encouraged to participate on hands on experience.

In addition to the above, there was  a cultural event and a puppet show.  The people who  travels through ECR peep in to this museum also.  It attracts foreign visitors too. In addition to the museum the Dhakshin Chitra conducts regular program of sculpture making in stone, glass, Painting. 
More details about this Dhakshin Chitra Museum may be obtained from their web site : http://dakshinachitra.net/

 Iyyanar Temple 
 Nattukottai Nagarathar's house
 Chariot 
 Paintings on the wall 
 Shiva and Parvathy a Bronze statue 
 Durgai
 Sri Valli Devasena Subramaniyar 
 Terracotta Horses at Iyyanar temple 
 Paintings on the cloth
 Paintings on the cloth 
 The resting mandapa
 A Typical Karnataka House 
Sculpture on the wall in a Karnataka house 
THE MADRAS CROCODILE BANK AND TRUST
The Madras Crocodile bank and trust was established by  Mr Rom and Mr Zai Whitaker in the year 1976. This is run by  a NGO  of the above trust. The specific goal of the bank was  to increase the populations of three species of Indian Crocodile mugger ( crocodylus palustris), the salt water Crocodile ( Crocodylus porosus) and the rarest gharial ( Gavialis gangeticus). The Bank has more than 2500 crocodiles  in 18 species. The bank conducts  research  program also.
Apart from the Crocodile population the Bank has the Turtles, Snakes ( Python and anaconda. There is a demonstration hall for extraction of venom from the snakes and explaining the behaviours of snakes and crocodiles.  It was learned that the crocodiles were fed once in a week with beef.   The bank has lot of trees and pond to make the feel of natural environment for the reptiles.  The birds like cranes, strokes build their nests on the tree tops. The crocodile bank  allows  visiting from 08.30 Hrs to 17.30 Hours on all the days except Monday, which is a holiday.
More details can be obtained from their website : http://www.madrascrocodilebank.org/cms/

 A Lone croc
 A group of crocs

 Birds nest on the tree top 
SRI NIDHYA KALYANA PERUMAL TEMPLE AT THIRUVIDANTHAI
This is the 62md temple of 108 Divya Desam Vishnu Temples. 22nd Divya Desam in Thondai Nadu.  Mangalasasanam was done by Thirumangai Alwar one of the 12 Alwars.
Iraivan : Sri Adi Varaha Perumal – Lord Vishnu in the form of wild boar.
Thayar : Sri Komalavalli Nachiyar
Some of the important features of this temple are...
  1. The temple is more than 1000 years old.
  2. The Anjaneyar Temple after the thirukulam.
  3. There is a 16 Pillar mandapam in front of the temple and there is a Thirukulam on the road side.
  4. After 16 pillar mandapam the entrance arch or Mottai Gopuram.
  5. Dwajasthambam, Palipedam, Garuda thoon / Vilakku thoon, 4 pillar mandapam on the left and there is mandapam on the right.
  6. After dwajasthambam  entrance to the inner parakaram. In the inner prakaram temple for Thayar, and shops are in a Andal Shrine mandapam on the right side.
  7. The sanctum has arathamandapam and a mahamandapam. In the mahamandapam Urchavar. Periya Thiruvadi is opposite to moolavar  at the entrance of mandapam.
  8. Moovlavar in the form of Varaham standing on Adisheshan and holding his concert on the right thigh. 
  9. The temple was built during Pallava’s ruling. Epigraphs are available on the sanctum wall.
HOW TO REACH :
  1. The temple is 38 KM from Chennai and 16 KM from Mahapalipuram on the East coast Road.
  2. The Mahapalipuram buses stops at Thiruvidanthai.
CONTACT DETAILS :
  1. The telephone number is : +91 44 2474 2235.
  2. The temple website : http://www.thiruvidanthai.com/index.html
TEMPLE TIMINGS:
  1. The temple is kept open between 06.00 Hrs to 12.00 Hrs and 15.00 Hrs to 20.00 Hrs.
LOCATION OF THE TEMPLE :CLICK HERE
16 Pillar mandapam 
Relief on the pillar of the 16 Pillar mandapam 
Entrance arch with mandapam 
Main shrine view from entrance arch 
4 Pillar mandapam
Dwajasthambam, Palipedam and Garuda thoon 
Main shrine entrance - mahamandapam with Garudalwar sannadhi 
Moolavar and sannadhi Vimanam 
Thayar sannadhi 
Sthala Viruksham 
After reaching Mamallapuram parked our bus at the parking lot in front of Shore Temple. We had our lunch inside the park and the temple is being well maintained by ASI, with green park, shadow trees and toilets.

MAMALLAPURAM SHORE TEMPLE
The Mahabalipuram  is derived from Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, a title of Narasimhavarman –I, who ruled between 630 to 670 AD. It was an old port City.
The shore temple is part of the seven pagodas of Mamallapuram, rock cut temples and UNESCO world heritage site. This is opposite to Krishna mandapam. This temple  was built between 700–728 AD, by  Narasimha Varma I, After Tsunami in the year 2004,  a dike wall has been constructed to avoid direct spraying of sea water on the temple structure. The Vimana is of elongated type similar to Rajasimha period architecture. The main shrine faces east with a broken Linga and Somaskanda relief is on the back wall. On the back of Shiva’s sanctum a small Vishnu in Ananda Sayanam on adisheshan.
A large sculpture of a Durga’s lion  with goddess seated on the right leg on the animal. On it’s chest a square niche  where in also a representation of Durga. At the foot of the  pedestal on which the lion is seated is a headless couchant deer.
 The Detail plate installed  to guide 
 The shore temple 


 Group of ACM Medical foundation students 

 Somaskandar relief with damaged octagonal shaped Lingam 
 Somaskandar 
 Ananda Sayana perumal back of Shiva's sannadhi 
 The Monolithic lion 
 Durgai's relief in the niche of Lion 
 Another view 

 View from west side with Palipedam and gopura pillars 
 another  view of the temple 
 View of the temple from east.
THE FIVE MONOLITHS ( 5 RATHS )
This raths hewn of of solid rock to form five free standing monolithic temples. These temples are named after five Pandavas of Mahabharata. The roofing of each are not similar but are unique in architecture.
The five Rathas
MONOLITH -I. Dharmaraja Ratha.
This is the southern most temple of the group and the highest. Utilizing the natural rock  sloped from south to north to chisel higher to lower. This is a pyramidal structure  with a square base. The reliefs available are Harihara, Brahma, Skanda, King Narasimha varman, Ardhanarisvara, Vishnu, Nitya Dhashinamurthy, Nandhi. Dwarabalas.


Arthanareeswarar
MONOLITH –II. Bhima Ratha.
The roof sloped like the hood –wagon is elongated on a rectangular base is supported by 4 pillars. The other ornamentations are chaitya –windows and pavilion. The Bima ratha roof contains no paddy –grass figure covering.


MONILITH – III, Arjuna Ratha.
It is replica to the Dharmaraja ratha. There are carved panels between pilasters on the  four sides of its main body. In the corner panels  there are standing dwarabalakars. In the centre panel Shiva is leaning an Nandhi and Indira on Airavata and Vishnu leaning on Garuda. Behind the ratha a monolithic couchant nadhi is a semi finished state.

An semi -finished nandhi
 Shiva with royal attendants


MONILITH –IV, DRAUPADI –RATHA.
It is the most elegant of all the five and  supported by the pilasters on all four sides. In the east niche a standing Durga on a severed head of buffalo demon. Two male worshipers  kneeling at  her feet and four dwarf ganas flying overhead. Monolith Lion is just opposite.

Monilithic Lion 
Durgai with severed head of Mahisan
MONOLITH –V, NAKULA-SAHADEVA-RATHA.
The temple is named after the two hero’s, the younger brothers. This is not in the row but in front of Arjuna Ratha. Close to this there is a monolith elephant standing in parallel. The roof or the vimana is Ornamental features like Dharmaraja, Arjuna and others Rathas.   The vimana is of Gajaprishthakara type ( elephant-back)
 Gajaprista vimanam
squatting lion supported pillars in the front mandapam 

THE HILL AREA – CAVES – TEMPLES – MANDAPAMS – SCULPTURES
CAVE - I. VARAHA CAVE
This cave is very near to Mahishasuramardini cave. The sculptures in this cave are Varaha raising the earth from the ocean,  Gajalakshmi, Eight armed Vishnu, King with queens, Gangadhara, Brahma.


CAVE –II, MAHISHAMARDINI CAVE
This cave has a long hall with triple cell with four pillars and two pilasters. The pillars are polygonal bulbous cushion and are supported by squatting lions. In the hall on the left panel consists of Vishnu in yoga Nidra on adisheshan. On the right panel Mahishamardini with eight hands on lion fighting Mahisha- demon  and the battle field. See the posture of the Mahisan and his warriors, retreating on the opposite direction of Durgai to save their lives.  
 Vishnu sayanam  on Adhisheshan 
 Mahisan vadham by Durgai 
RAMANUJAR CAVE 
Initially the cave created to Lord Shiva ie Somaskandar latter the relief was chipped off and made as Vishnu Temple. The markings can be seen in the  centre shrine wall. The other two cells are for Brahma and Vishnu. The Conch  and Chakra are chiseled on the side walls. The epigraph of Atyantakama Pallava, who is identified as Parameshvaravarman is also available in this cave.   The front mandapa Pillars witness the extensive damage done to this cave and mandapam.
 Front mandapam without roof 
Cave front view 
 Squatting Lion Pillar 
 niche 
Mandapam  from distance 
MONOLITH –VI, GANESA RATHA.
The path beyond the monkey group leads to Ganesa Ratha one of the finest monolithic temples at Mahapalipuram. It resembles to Bima Ratha. On the top of the roof human head decorated by trident shaped  head gear, side prongs suggesting  the horns. The roof has nine vase shaped finials and is the precursor of the latter gopuram. Originally there was a Shiva lingam and the Ganesa is occupied now . Regular poojas are conducted. 

Roof with kalasams
RAYALA GOPURAM.

On the top of the boulder is and unfinished – mottai gopuram or the temple gate tower of the Vijayanagara period. This has the Vijayanagara Period decoration the jambs.


ARJUNA’S PENANCE
The carvings are unique in nature and a very excellent Indian art. Two large boulders with a narrow fissure has been used for carving of reliefs.  The reliefs has gods like Surya, Chandra, Sidhas, Gandharvas, Apsaras are rushing towards centre point  where sage stands on his left foot deeply engaged in penance. A Shiva’s relief carrying trident  in one hand and attended by dwarf bootha ganas. Apart from this there are hunters, disciples and wild animals like Lion, tiger, elephant and boar.  The  group of elephants are the master pieces of the Indian art.  The cleft is occupied by Nagas, Nagis, with hands in adoration. There is a temple of Vishnu with sages in meditation. The cats and monkeys are also in meditating.  It is tiny but a realistic carving of group of monkeys with their family father, mother and child with their routine work of picking the lice from the others head.
The above scene represent the story of Mahabharata in which Arjuna  performed the penance to please  Lord Shiva and got the Pasupatha weapon. 



 The monkey and cat are doing penance 


SRI STHALA SAYANA PERUMAL TEMPLE  
This is situated in front of Arjuna’s penance. This temple  is dedicated to Vishnu. The carving and workmanship are not lavish and belongs to Vijayanagara Period.ie. Fifteenth – sixteenth -century. It is one of the 108 Diva Desams of Lord Vishnu. The temple has mangasasanam by Boothathalwar, Thirumangai Alwar, Namalwar, Periyalwar and Andal. The place Mahapalipuram is mentioned as Thiru Kadal Mallai in the hymns.
Iraivan : Sri Sthala sayana Perumal.
Thayar : Sri Nilamangai Thayar
Some of the important features of this temple are....
  1. The temple is facing east with 4 pillar mandapam and an unfinished – mottai – gopuram similar to Rayala Gopuram.
  2. The Rajagopuram is after the unfinished gopuram at the entrance to the main shrine.
  3. Dwajasthambam, Palipedam and Garudalvar sannadhi are at the front.
  4. The temple has main sanctum, arthamandapam, and mahamandapam. Moolavar is in a reclining / syanam on a bare floor without conch and chakra in hands.  
  5. Thayar is in a separate sanndhi. There is a separate shrine for Narasimha, Ramar and Anjaneyar.
  6. It was believed that this is the birth place for Boothathazhlvar, who was found out in the temple tank.
  7. The temple was originally near the sea shore. During 14th century the Vijayanagara King Parankusa  and built mada street around the temple. Latter the temple was expanded by Vikrama Chozha King during 1118 to 1125 AD.  
HOW TO REACH :
  1. The temple is very near to Mahapalipuram bus stand.
  2. Frequent buses are available from Chennai.
TEMPLE TIMINGS
  1. The temple is open between 07.00 Hrs to 15.00 Hrs to 20.00 Hrs.
CONTACT DETAILS :
  1. The land line number is +91 44 2744 3245
LOCATION OF THE TEMPLE :CLICK HERE
Sri Sthala Sayanaperumal temple view from Arjuna's penance 
View from North side Compund wall 
Semi finished front Gopuram 
East side Rajagopuram 
East side Rajagopuram view from temple inside
Moolavar vimanam - like Rajagopuram 
--- OM SHIVAYA NAMA : ---

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