Threat of Submersion Looms Over Mamallapuram Temples as Sea Water Level is on the Rise



The Mamallapuram Temples, earlier known as Mahabalipuram, located along the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu faces the threat of submersion due to sea level rise. Mamallapuram monuments and temples were founded by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries and are carved on rocks. They are also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The famous Shore Temple is also under threat from sea level rise.

V Gangadharan Writes in ExpressBuzz about the threat

Addressing a joint expert workshop on conservation organized by the Archaeological Survey of India and the Janssen Phasrmaceutica, Belgium here, Director of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu, R Annamalai, said the issue of climate change poses a real threat to the conservation of the timeless monuments. The sea level has constantly risen in Mamallapuram too like elsewhere.

“If the trend continued, the monuments which are rich reminders of our hoary cultural heritage may go under the sea by the end of this century,” he said, adding that a monitoring committee on a permanent basis could help keep a watch on the sea level. Perhaps, creating an enclave or an island for the monuments may also help in conservation.

Mamallapuram Monuments and Temples are noted for its unparalled architectural skills. The monuments and temples here are subdivided into five categories:

The most famous is the Ratha Temples in the form of processional chariots. These are monolithic constructions cut into the residual blocks of diorite which emerge from the sand. It is believed to have built between AD 630 and 668 during the reign of Naharasmihavarman Mamalla.

Next set of important sculptures are rock relief in open air which illustrates popular episodes in the life of Lord Shiva.

The mandapa, which are rock sanctuaries modeled as room and covered with bas-relief – Each mandapa consists of sculptures depicting important aspects in the life of Varaha (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), five Pandavas, Krishna and Mahishasuramaradini.

Descent of the Ganges – the sculptures used a natural fissure which divided the cliff to suggest this event. The sculptures include that of Gods and Goddess of Hindu pantheon, demi gods, and a host of other living beings that were witness to the descent of Ganges.

Temples here are constructed in cut stone and is noted for stepped pyramidal tower and thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Recent archeological studies have revealed that several temples and monuments in the region had gone under sea several centuries ago. If proper conservation measures are note taken, history might repeat.