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  • Context (TH): Mamallapuram, a renowned World Heritage Site, faces traffic woes.

About Mamallapuram

  • It is a town that lies along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
  • It was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD.
  • In 1984, UNESCO declared Mamallapuram a World Heritage Site due to its cultural significance.
  • It includes monuments like the Pancha Rathas, Cave Temples, Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges, and Shore Temples.
  • It was one of two major port cities in the Pallava kingdom.
  • It was also the Seven Pagodas. The ancient town had seven pagodas on the shore, of which only one, known as the Shore Temple, now survives.

Shore Temple

  • It has two shrines, one dedicated to Shiva and the other to Vishnu.
  • It was probably built during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, also known as Rajasimha.

    Shore Temple - PMF IAS

    Credit: Britannica

Pancha Rathas

  • It is an architectural ode to Mahabharata’s five Pandava brothers, Yudhistir, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, and their wife, Draupadi.
  • All of them were carved out of a long stone or monolith.

    Pancha Rathas - PMF IAS

    Credit: WikiData

Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges

Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges - PMF IAS

Credit: TOI

  • It is a gigantic open-air bas-relief sculpted out of pink granite. The dramatic relief sculpture narrates the tales from Indian epics such as the Mahabharata.
  • Conflicting interpretations
    • One interpretation depicts the story of the origins and religious significance of the Ganges River.
    • Another interpretation focuses on the devotion of the archer Arjuna, the hero of the Mahabharata.
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