Sunday, March 13, 2005


More temples at Mahabalipuram?


Hindustan Times
March 12, 2005

For centuries, the magnificent rock temple at Mahabalipuram near Chennai has stood as an eternal reminder of the architectural skill of its builders. It now emerges that there could be more than one temple - offshore and onshore.

It's still early days before passing a judgment but excavations around the temple conducted jointly by the Indian Navy and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) reveal that there could be some truth to the area being referred to as the "Land of the Seven Pagodas".

The findings of the exploration "have been promising and are being minutely analysed by ASI professionals" and will be presented at the second International Seminar on Marine Archeology to be held in Delhi on March 18-19, the Indian Navy Deputy Chief, Vice Admiral Sureesh Mehta, told reporters.

"There is no literary evidence but there is physical evidence of structures both onshore and offshore," added Alok Tripathi of the ASI, the archaeologist trained to carry out underwater excavations.

"There is also evidence of a change in the shoreline, which means that some of these structures were constructed on land but were submerged when sea levels rose," Tripathi said.

The ASI undertook preliminary research of the area in 2001. Based on the results of this an Indian Navy-ASI team carried out extensive diving and exploratory work off Mahabalipuram in February with INS Darshak, a hydrographic survey vessel, providing administrative support.

This was followed up by a full-fledged exploration February 11-25.

"Extensive diving was methodically undertaken in rough seas, including the treacherous surf zone. The aim was to examine the rocks for any signs of human activity like chisel marks and sculptures," Mehta said.

"A few small artefacts have been recovered and others documented through still and video photography. The recovered artefacts include stone blocks and pieces with evidence of human activity on them," Mehta added.


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