Temple traces in tsunami zone

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By M.R. VENKATESH in Chennai
  • Published 1.04.05
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Chennai, April 1: The Archaeological Survey of India has unearthed traces of two more temples of the Pallava era near the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram, 55 km from here.

The discovery strengthens the hypothesis about Seven Pagodas having once stood in this ancient port town of the Pallavas. The December 26 tsunami had brought to view rock structures with carved figures, which had first kindled hopes of cracking the mystery.

An ASI team along with Indian Navy divers had stumbled upon the ?wall-like structures? and ?step-like structures? in February.

?We are presently excavating the remains of two structural temples onshore, both to the south of the Shore Temple. They appear to be similar in size to the Shore Temple. And linking these discoveries to our earlier excavations under sea, where we found manmade rock structures, there is enough evidence to suggest that there are more submerged temples built during the Pallava period,?? said Alok Tripathi, ASI?s deputy superintending archaeologist in charge of underwater excavations off the Mamallapuram coast.

Tripathi said one of the temples was 20 metres wide and 25 metres long. His team also found an 8x8-metre square garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and a porch in front facing the sea. The archaeologists also dug up an open courtyard 15 feet in width and a two-metre thick prakara (enclosure) wall.

?We also found a large number of architectural fragments and mouldings, including parts of a shikara (the crown of a temple) and carved segments from the prakara,? Tripathi said.

The ASI is also exploring three other nearby rocks that bear marks of human activity. ?One of these rocks has a superstructure, which indicates another structural temple,?? the archaeologist said, adding that the team has found chisels, perhaps used by artisans, and remnants of a well made of terracotta rings.