Places of interest in Tamilnadu

Trip to Mahabalipuram on December 5, 2007

General information pertaining to all the monuments we visited
There are four types of monuments to be seen in Mahabalipuram - the monoliths, cave mandapams, structural temples, bas relief.
Most of the monuments are located slightly below the ground level. They were once buried under the sand which had to be removed to reveal the sculptural splendour.
The main rulers believed to have contributed
Mahendra Pallava
Mahendra’s son Narasimha Pallava
Narasimha’s grandson Paramesvara Pallava
Parameswara’s son Rajasimha
There are four different pillars
Mahendra pillar - square at top and bottom and octagonal in the middle
circular body
decorative pillars with seated lion as the base
decorative pillars with standing lion as the base.
Mahendra pillar - square at top and bottom
and octagonal in the middle
circular body as seen in the
Mahishasuramardhini mandapam
with seated lion as the base as seen in
Pancha Pandavar mandapam

Both men and women are seen wearing two different types of earrings - makara kundalam in one ear and patra-kundala in the other, as shown in the Gangadhara panel in the Adivaraha cave.
In the early Pallava temples, there was no lingam or idol installed in the sanctum. Worship was offered to the relief image on the rear wall of the sanctum. The relief image was either in the form of stone carving on the wall or a wooden panel. Hence, some of the mandapams now have empty garbagrihams.
There are no inscriptions in any of the monuments indicating the ruler who was responsible for the excavation/construction. The inscriptions available are slokas, the king's titles... They are in Pallava Grantha script or Devanagiri. Later Chola inscriptions are in Tamil.
Dwarapalakas are the gate-keepers seen on either side of the garbagriham guarding the deity. It is possible to identify if a shrine is for Siva, Vishnu, Brahma or Durga by studying the dress, hair style and weapons of the dwarapalakas/dwarapalikas. In the Siva shrines, they are seen with jatamakutam, in a fierce mood, with wide eyes, holding a club or sword. In the Vishnu shrines they have a youthful and pleasant look, with a crown on their head. In the Durga shrines, there are female gate keepers, Dwarapalikas.
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