Before i start introducing the shore temple ( does it need introduction?) i got to place on record my sincere thanks to two friends i met on flickr.com – their photography stunned me and when i sought their concurrence to host their pictures here, they gladly agreed. The stunning visuals truly add beauty to the pallava creation and they are from the lenses of Mr. Prabhakaran ( Aadhi arts) and Mr Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan ( Ravages)
Any chennaite and every visitor to Chennai – takes back many interesting memories, but nothing as spectacular as the twin spires of the shore temple.
By the lilting waves of the sea shore, landscaping the skyline, words cannot aptly explain the visual overflow of senses on seeing this magnificent edifice, standing tall for a 1300 years, withstanding the elements, a living tribute to the pinnacle of artistic excellence of the Pallavas. In Art school you are taught the elements of symmetry and how aesthetic beauty comes from symmetric images – you could base the straight profile for that argument, but the greatness of this creation is that the asymmetric towers too appeal very much to your senses.
The structure most often serves the purpose of a photo backdrop and not many know the intricate details of the structure, which is the purpose of this introduction.
The mallai shore temple is actually a three in one temple – an earlier Vishnu shrine
sandwiched inbetween two shiva shrines. The two Shiva shrines
gopurams are built by the great Raja Simha Pallava ( the self styled king of unlimited fantasies – Atyantakama – you can see his trade mark prancing lion pillars – we did see them earlier in the Saluvankuppam post – tiger cave bordering the stage and you will see more of them when we venture to Kanchipuram for his grandest creation – the Kanchi Kailaasanatha temple ). The Vishnu shrine in between, did it have a tower or was it damaged later, is not clear.
But there are references in Vaishanvite Saints ( Alwars) works of Kadalmallai
Talasayana perumal. In Rajaraja’s later inscriptions he mentions the names of the three shrines of at Kshatriyasimha Pallavesvaragriham, Rajasimha Pallavesvaragriham and Pallikondaruliya Devar shrine.
Kshtriyasimha and Rajasimha are ofcourse titles of Rajasimha himself and hence we can conclude that these shiva shrines were built by him.
The shore temple is truly an ode to sculpture
We will see more of the Sthala Sayana, the Vishnu shrine in the coming posts.