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Indian Heritage & Culture


  • 26 Mar 2020
  • 2 min read
  • Location: Mamallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram or Seven Pagodas, is a town that lies along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
  • History
    • It is an important town of the erstwhile Pallava dynasty that ruled in parts of South India from 275 CE to 897 CE.
    • It was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD.
    • The name Mamallapuram derives from Mamallan, or “great warrior”, a title by which the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I was known.
    • The name Mamallapuram got distorted during the British era to Mahabalipuram and thus it is also known as Mahabalipuram.
  • Architecture
    • Mamallapuram contains many surviving 7th- and 8th-century Pallava temples and monuments, chief of which are the sculptured rock relief popularly known as “Arjuna’s Penance,” or “Descent of the Ganges,” a series of sculptured cave temples, and the Shore Temple.
    • The town’s Five Rathas, or monolithic temples, are the remnants of seven temples, for which the town was known as Seven Pagodas. The entire assemblage collectively was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
  • Significance:
    • Ancient Chinese, Persian, and Roman coins found at Mamallapuram point that it was a seaport.
    • Mamallapuram and the Pallava dynasty are also historically relevant, for the earliest recorded security pact between China and India (in the early 8th century) that involved a Pallava king (Rajasimhan, or Narasimha Varma II), from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet.
    • The second informal summit between India and China was held here in October 2019.

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