The Shore Temple | Wonders of Ancient Indian Architecture
| ByWebindia123 Editor
Mahabalipuram is a small
shore-village in Tamil Nadu. Built during the Pallava dynasty…this place is
an architectural delight. The shore temple along with the rock-cut sculptures
creates a unique blend of history and natural beauty. It is a complex of elegant
shrines that depicts the zenith of Dravidian art and architecture.
The temple perched on top of a rocky
outcrop, sits like a crown atop of the Bay of Bengal. Its design is very unique
and it catches the first rays of the sun at daybreak and the water seems to be
illuminated towards the end of the day. No wonder Percy Brown described this
breath taking scenery as ‘a landmark by day and a beacon by night’. The
shore temple standing against a picturesque azure sky and the vast blue sea is
truly a breath taking sight.
The temple was built during the rule
of Rajasimha, a Pallava king during the 7th and 8th
century. It is unique in construction as it is built entirely out of stones
whereas the temples of that period were generally built from rocks. This temple
is a 5-storied Hindu structural temple unlike any other monolithical structures
in Mahabalipuram, having a 60feet high pyramidal structure sitting on top of a
50feet square platform. A small temple, which originally served as the porch
sits in front of the main temple. The entire temple complex has been built out
of finely cut locally available granite.
The most innovative design element of the entire temple is the ‘Shikhara’ or spine of the temple that is built in a soaring, tiered style… tapering towards the top and is totally different from the usual dome structures found in most Hindu structures. All the elements of Dravidian architecture like the ‘Shikhara’, ‘Vimaana’, ‘Gopuram’ and the carvings of animals can be found here at the shore temple.
The main shrine of the temple is sea
facing towards east. Relics of both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva can still be
found here. Inter-connected water channels lets in the sea to the temple, making
it a water shrine.
It is an uncluttered structure
with 2 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, facing the east and west respectively.
In between these 2 shrines is a 3rd shrine that honors Lord Vishnu, reclining on
the serpent ‘Sesha’. Lord Vishnu is believed to be the protector of the
universe. The entire temple complex is covered with breathtakingly real and