Shore Temple is a standing testimonial to the regal heritage of India. Located at Mahabalipuram, Shore Temples can easily be reached by taking regular buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Tamil Nadu. The nearest airport is located at Chennai that lies at a distance of 60 kms from Mahabalipuram. One of the most photographed monuments in India, Shore Temple is a structural monument on the shores of Bay of Bengal.
Built in the 7th century, Shore Temple depicts the royal taste of
Pallava dynasty. During the reign of Rajasimha, the temple saw its
construction when Pallava art was at its apex. Ravaged by wind and sea,
the temple has witnessed the historical events of India. This work of
genius was recognized and listed amongst the World Heritage Sites by
Shore Temple comprises three shrines, where the prominent ones are
dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In the garbhagriha (sanctum
sanctorum), an image of Shivalinga embraces the site. At the rear end,
one can find two shrines facing each other. Here, one shrine is
dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara and other to Lord Vishnu. In the shrine,
Lord Vishnu is imaged reclining on the 'Seshanag', which is a symbol of
consciousness in Hinduism.
The exterior wall of the shrine to Lord Vishnu and the internal side of
the boundary wall are elaborately carved and sculptured. The images on
the sculpted panels depict scenes from everyday life. However, the
sculptures are incredibly real and artistic. The exterior walls of the
temple are segregated by plasters into bays, where the lower part has
been impressed into a series of nurturing lions. The archeological
department has excavated certain other figures from the site.
Shore Temple is no more a living temple. The structure of the temple
makes one to contemplate and perhaps, it was erected basically as a work
of art. The Pallavas were known to be the great patrons of art and were
keen to create their own style of temple architecture. In the present
day, Shore Temple makes the background of Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
that is held in Jan /Feb every year. The festival was organized to
promote the traditional dance as well as tourism in Mahabalipuram.
Shore Temple is also acknowledged for being the first stone structure
made by Pallavas. Before this, the monuments used to be carved out of
the rocks or stones. Unlike other monuments of the region, Shore Temple
is a five-storied rock-cut structural temple more willingly than
monolithical. In southern India, this is one amongst the earliest and
most important structural temples. The spire is extensively decorated
with carvings and sculptures. In the recent years, a stone wall has been
constructed to protect the shrine from further sea-erosion.
Perched on a 50 feet square plinth, the pyramidal structure raises to
the extent of 60 feet. Presenting a typical specimen of Dravidian temple
architecture, Shore Temple generates an exclusive combination of history
and natural splendor. The temple was designed to grasp the first rays of
the rising sun and to spotlight the waters after sunset. In the words of
Percy Brown, Shore Temple served as "a landmark by day and a beacon