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Shore Temple

As it lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, it’s called as the Shore Temple. It dates to the 8th century AD built with many block of granite. It is one of the most memorable temple and based on the architectural style the temple is called as a structural temple.

The Shore Temple is located in Mahabalipuram, Kancheepuram district. This structural temple complex was the culmination of the architectural creations that were initiated by the KingNarasimha Varma I. There is a legend saying about this shore temple:

Initially the Shore Temple was identified as a part of the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram. There is an article about this Seven Pagodas on the Times Of India which is titled as “Tsunami unveils Seven Pagodas” An ancient Hindu legend referred to the origin of these pagodas in mythical terms. The legend goes like this, Prince Hiranyakasipu refused to worship the god Vishnu but his son, Prahlada, loved and was devoted to Vishnu greatly and criticized his father’s lack of faith.

Hiranyakasipu banished Prahlada but then relented and allowed him to come home. After his arrival both of them argued about Vishnu’s nature.When Prahlada stated that Vishnu was present everywhere, including in the walls of their home, his father kicked a pillar. Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the form of a man with a lion’s head, and killed Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada eventually became the king, and had a son named Bali. Bali founded Mahabalipuram on this site.

Myths also mention that Gods were jealous of the architectural elegance of the monuments of Mahablipuram, and as a result they caused floods to occur, which submerged most parts of the city, except for a few structures that are seen now.

Shore temple is a complex of three temples, one large and two small, located right on the shores of the Coramandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal in Mahabalipuram, which was earlier known as Mamallapuram. During the Pallava Dynasty reign this was a port city of their kingdom which they ruled from Kanchipuram. It was built by the Pallava Dynasty when it was the trading port of the dynasty

All the three Temples of the Shore Temple complex are built on the same platform. The temple is a combination of three shrines. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva as is the smaller second shrine. A small third shrine, between the two, is dedicated to a reclining Vishnu and may have had water channelled into the temple, entering the Vishnu shrine. The two Shiva shrines are orthogonal in configuration.

The temple has a garbhagriha(sanctum sanctorum) in which the deity, Sivalinga, is enshrined, and a small mandapa surrounded by a heavy outer wall with little space between for circumambulation. At the rear are two shrines facing in opposite directions. The inner shrine dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara is reached through a passage while the other, dedicated to Vishnu, is facing outwards. The Durga is seated on her lion vahana. A small shrine may have been in the cavity in the lion’s chest.

There is still lots and lots to tell about the architecture and the mythical lores behind this Shore temple, which in my opinion will thrill you more when you take a trip to Mahabalipuram and view it in person.