Shore Temple in the coastal town of Mamallapuram (also called Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, India is a mesmerizing UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the best examples of temple architecture in south India, dating from the Pallava Dynasty, dating back to 8th century A.D. I visited this monument, during my marathon South India travel, some time back and the wonderful memories are forever etched in my mind.
Shore Temple, is called so because of its location near the shore (beach), although due to shifting of sands through centuries, it is now located a bit away from the actual shore. Nevertheless, the beach area of Mamallapuram is visible from the temple complex. The Shore Temple forms part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1984). The town of Mamallapuram can be reached within an hour & half drive from both Pondicherry (which I did) or Chennai (in Tamil Nadu) and makes for a nice day trip from both these destinations
During the reign of Pallava dynasty (in 8th century AD), the town of Mamallapuram was a busy port town, the remains of which can even be seen inside the temple complex, in the form of remains of an ancient jetty (see image below).
To describe the beauty of Shore Temple is a bit difficult. The fact that it was built so many centuries ago and still stands today is testimony enough of its timelessness. However, the effect of nature (read sea water & sand) has taken some toll on the beautiful sculptures and some of them have eroded.
There are many interesting sculptures and carvings at Shore Temple. One of the most surprising things here is the presence of a sweet water well (centre image in below collage), as it’s so close to the sea; definitely a proof of advanced architecture during the 8th century AD.
We spent close to 2 hours in the Shore Temple, listening to the guide as he showed us around, narrating tales of the temple, showing interesting carvings and regaling us with the conservation efforts that are continuously being put in to keep the temple beautiful to the visitors.
I would definitely urge travelers to visit this beautiful temple and the other monuments in Mamallapuram, if they happen to be either in Pondicherry or Chennai.
~ Happy Travels ~