Chennai Events

2000 Years of Mamallapuram

Today Tamil Heritage trust had organized a talk by R.Gopu titled “2000 Years of Mamallapuram” (மாமல்லபுரம் – 2000 ஆண்டுகள்). R. Gopu studied Computer Science & Engineering and earned a Master’s degree from Texas A & M University, had worked at Microsoft in Seattle, USA and in the Silicon Valley. He has given a number of lectures on Astronomy and Heritage related topics, especially on Pallava Art.

In today’s talk Gopu talked of Mamalapuram (Mahabalipuram), 60kms south of Chennai which in 7th century was a port city during the dynasty of Pallavas. He started with a brief outline of Kings who ruled over Tamil Nadu from Sangam time till the European influence around 15th Century.

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Mamalapuram has numerous accounts written of it in local literature,  Tamil text written by Thirumangai Alvar described this place as Sea Mountain ‘where the ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden as they were with wealth, big trunked elephants and gems of nine varieties in heaps’. It’s fame began to rise was after the rediscovery in 1788 by William chambers, in 1828 by babington,  interpreted by Goloubew in 1914 and by Colin Mackenzie, the first Surveyor General of India. The Sthalasayana Perumal Temple in Mamalapuram town has references in 6th Century texts. There are many items of interest that are available for discovery here, the Shore Temple, Pancha Rathas named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva).

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Photo taken in 1990s by Venkatarangan of the Shore Temple.

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Photo taken in 1990s by Venkatarangan of Pancha Rathas.

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Photo taken in 1990s by Venkatarangan of Bhima Ratha.

There are many interpretations for Arjuna penance work, some say it depicts the habitat living in various altitudes of Himalayas – location, place, time and events, Animals arranged by zones of population, corresponding to heights in Himalayas, every species depicted here is also in Himalayas.

You can watch the full video of the talk here.