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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Historical Sites near Chennai - Sangam Age Temple

THE remains of an ancient brick temple, possibly 2,000 years old, have been discovered on the beach near Tiger Cave in Mamallapuram, 50 km from Chennai. According to archaeologists involved in the excavation, the temple; dedicated to Muruga, also known as Karthikeya, may date back to the late Tamil Sangam age, between 1st century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. An inscription in Tamil on a rock near the excavated site led to the discovery of the temple. The rock, lodged in sand, was exposed fully by the tsunami that struck Mammalapuram on December 26, 2004.
The original temple was damaged severely by what archaeologists think was a tsunami or a massive tidal wave action. Subsequently, the Pallava kings converted it into a granite temple in the 8th and 9th century A.D., which too fell to tidal waves . The Pallava rulers filled the sanctum sanctorum of the brick temple with sand, placed granite slabs over it and used it as a foundation to build a new temple. This temple had a vimana (tower) made of granite blocks with carvings. So the temple had two distinct phases: the late Sangam age and the Pallava period.
An important discovery was that of two carved, granite pillars of the Pallava period. Both the pillars have inscriptions in Tamil. While one pillar mentions the seventh regnal year (813 A.D.) of the Pallava king Dantivarman, the other has an inscription belonging to the 12th regnal year (858 A.D.) of another Pallava king, Nandivarman III. The inscriptions on the pillars speak about donations made to a Subrahmanya temple at a place called Thiruvizhchil, which is the present-day Salavankuppam, where the Tiger Cave monuments are located.
Other Pallava age artefacts unearthed include carved granite blocks from the collapsed temple vimana, a bronze lamp with a carving of a cock (the vehicle of Muruga or Subrahmanya), and roofing tiles. The granite blocks have carvings of Ganesa, elephants, mythical animals and floral motifs. A copper coin belonging to the Chola period was found on the surface of the site.


  1. Wow... That seems to be an interesting find that is a bit of proof of our fascinating history..

    Driving thru Vazhachal Forest
    Shopping in Paris

  2. Sorry I'm late but a summer riding accident had actually put me out of commission longer than I would have liked.
    I wish you and your family a Happy New Year
    All the best for 2010

  3. Very interesting indeed. Love all these sites!

  4. Namaste...
    Very interesting thank you, isn't great how our history dwell along side us and not behind us as once believed?

    Have a great week

  5. I would like to see those carvings because they should be very delicate and depicting the scenes from Hindu mythology. Great article Ram for one of those important temple towns, gateway to South India.

  6. Hello Ram:)

    This is a well researched, very informative and interesting post along with lovely photos. This post is a clear proof of our rich past and the wonderful life ancient Indians lived in a civilised way with culture,tradition, learning, art,amazing skill and immense belief in God.

    I am amazed at the way our ancestors lived with beauty, dignity, and an orderly,peaceful life.

    Have a nice day Ram:)

  7. Amazing. I had read about this discovery in the papers during tsunami. But I had never seen the snaps before. Great shots.

  8. You might call this the temple that would not die! Such an interesting post...thank you.

    You asked about Lake is in The Villages, about an hour's drive west northwest of Orlando. Lake Sumter Landing is one of the two "hometowns" in The Villages, the other being Spanish Springs.

    Lake Sumter is a very small lake used mainly as decoration for the hometown of Lake Sumter Landing.

  9. Looks like a fascinating place to visit, great pictures!

  10. What an interesting post about the historical find. Great shots and information.

  11. Archeological ruins are always fascinating to me. Very interesting post.

  12. Very interesting sequence of images of a really charming place. Great post!
    Happy Sunday!

  13. Very nice and interesting place. I have never heard of Sangam temple. All the pictures looks wonderful. Thanks for this lovely information.
    As my brothers are working in Merchant Navy so they have taken these pictures.

  14. Well I am living my dream by being an army officer... But still the academic bug in of lives on... From a engineering background... But was always interested in history... Pursuing a distance education degree in that just for fun... First year syllabus only includes mauryas , kushanas n guptas... Cholas , pandyas come later... I guess ur blogs gonna be of great help!

  15. And I must add... Absolutely amazing pictures..

  16. Looks a wonderful place to visit
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  17. This was very interesting, I love to read about historical sites. That sure was a large rock. Thanks for sharing this and for coming by.

  18. wow!!that was a really interesting post...i have always been interested in archaelogy. :)

  19. I so enjoyed this post!
    Wonderful photos also!

    Thank you for your visit and nice comment!


  20. This is wonderful! Though having read about it, I haven't had an opportunity to see the pictures........for which I must thank you!

    Besides, the write up is very informative too!

  21. Thank you for inviting me to your blog. And for your visit and comment through our mutual friend Joseph. I hold in high regard And we have shared opinions on many subjects. Hoping you too will find a comfort zone to express you opinion.

    We need not always agree. Something would be wrong if we did. But to respect one another for our individuality and our right to be different. Thank God everyone isn't just like me. It's not that I dislike me. Most of the time I like me, but I think I would grow quite bore with only myself to talk to. Anyway.

    I seem to have drifted far from the subject of your post. History is of great interest to me. Viewing history can reveal the reasons for our present.

    I must confess my knowledge is minimal. Sad to say there was never an opportunity or reason to learn about. With the advances in technology, esp. communication a neighbor doesn't have to be limited to just next door, but can reside half way across the world. Amazing!I'm sorry hope I haven't overstayed my welcome. Sometimes I think my pen has a mind of it's own.

    Thanks again and I hope to hear from you soon..nikgee..

  22. This is what I love doing. Discovering the ancient sites around us. My Congargulations, When I plan a trip to Chennai, your blog will be my guide to all the trips. keep exploring and sharing

  23. Ramakrishnan Sir, Very informative post. Are you basically an Archaeologist?

    1. Thank you Gayathri. No I am not an archaeologist. Just an amazing interest in history !

  24. Wow! quite a find. It looks like the sea has a long history with the land and the temples in those parts.

  25. Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing such a useful post. Explore Anna Centenary Library also, a humongous library with 550,000 books.