• Shiva

Shore Temple


The Shore Temple located is in Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu. It is dedicated to God Shiva. The Shore Temple is has been named so because it is located on the eastern shore of Tamilnadu, overlooking the Bay of Bengal. It is a granite temple, dateing back to as early as 8th Century AD. The village of Mahabalipuram was a busy port during the 7th and 8th Century Pallava Reign Narasimhavarman 11. The Shore Temple is a five-storeyed structural Hindu temple that exquisitely stands out from the surrounding monuments at the site.

About the temple

Shore Temple

The shore temple is actually a group compromising three temples. It was all built by the Pallava Dynasty when it was the trading port of the dynasty, and was constructed with sculpted granite stones that are hauled from a nearby quarry. It is among the earliest and most important structural temples in South India. The pyramidal structure is high and it sits on a square platform. There is a temple in front, made out of finely cut local granite. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva as is the smaller second shrine. There is also a third shrine. The two Shiva shrines are orthogonal in configuration. Shikharas have a pyramidal outline, each individual tier is distinct with overhanging eaves that cast dark shadows. The outer walls of the periphery are extensively sculpted. The temple's outer walls are divided by pilasters into bays while the lower part is decorated with carvings of a series of rearing lions. The mandapa is surrounded by a heavy outer wall with little space between for going around. The inner shrine which is dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara can be reached through a passage while the other shrine, dedicated to God Vishnu , is facing outwards. Mother Durga is seen seated on her lion vahana. All the three temples of the shore temple complex are built on the sample platform. Viewed from the northern end, the temple represents the Dharmaraja Ratha. Built with sculpted granite stones hauled from a nearby quarry, it is the earliest important structural temple in South India. Its pyramidal structure is 60ft high and sits on a 50 ft square platform. There is a small temple in front which was the original porch. The temple is made out of finely cut local granite. The Temple is a combination of three shrines, the main shrine is dedicated to God Shiva as is the smaller second shrine. A small third shrine, between the two, is dedicated to a reclining God Vishnu and may have had water channeled into the temple, entering the Vishnu shrine. The two Shiva shrines are orthogonal in configuration and the entrance through a transverse barrel vault Gopuram. The Temple's two shikharas have a pyramidal outline, each individual tier is distinct with overhanging eaves that cast dark shadows. The outer wall of the Vishnu shrine and the inner boundary wall are extensively sculptured and topped by large sculpture s of Nandi. The Temple has a The temple's outer walls are divided by plasters into baysthe lower part being carved into a series of rearing lions. The temple has a garbhagriha in which the deity Sivalinga is enshrined and a small mandapa surrounded by a heavy outer wall with little space between for circumambulation. At the rear are two shrines facing opposite directions. The inner shrine dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara is reached through a passage while the other, dedicated to Vishnu faces the outside. The Shore Temples consists of the two Shiva shrines with the small Vishnu shrine in between illustrating an attempt to balance the different religious subsects. The Vishnu temples were built by Narasimha Varman I and the other two temples were built by Narasimha Varman II. There are two beautifully carved Dwarka Palaks (gate keepers) at the entrance of the east facing Shiva temples. On both sides of the temple inside are the marvellous sculptures of God Brahma and God Vishnu with their better halves. The top part of the Shivalinga figure inside the temple is found damaged. There are sculptures of "Somaskanda"" God Shiva with his sakthi Parvati and his sons Skanda and Ganesha are found on the nearby wall. Apart from God Shiva's sculpture one can find the sculptures of Narasimha and Goddess Durga also. The central shrine is in the form of a rectangle. It has a magnificent statue of God Vishnu which is known as Sthala Shayana Perumal or Ananthasayana which means 'yoga nidra'.Vishnu'.

About the deity

Shore Temple

God Shiva also known as Mahadev is one of the main deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism.Lord Shiva is usually represented in the form of linga, which represents the energies for life on both microcosmic and macrocosmic levels. In a Shiva temple, the linga is placed in the center, under the spire. It symbolizes the naval of the earth.


Shore Temple

The Shore Temple was originally a set of 7 temples, which in ancient times was referred to as the "Seven Pagodas" by sea faring sailors who would use it as a landmark for navigation of their ships. This shore temple complex was the culmination of the architectural creations that were initiated by the King Narasimha Varma I (popularly called as Mammalla after whom the Mamallapuram town is named), in mid 7th century starting with the Cave temples and the monolithic Rathas. The Temple was built by Narasimha Pallava 1 and was subsequently improvised by his descendant Narasimha 11. Ancient Legends referred to the origin of these pagodas in mythical terms. Datiya King Hiranyakasipu who refused to worship Vishnu as the supreme god, had a son Prahalad who was a big devotee of God Vishnu. Hiranyakasipu tried to force Prahlada to worship him as god initially by showering him with affection. When Prahalada did not yield, he was threatened with death penalty. Even this did not deter Prahalad. Hiranyakasipu then relented and allowed him to come home. Father and son quickly began to argue about Vishnu’s nature. When Prahlada stated that Vishnu was present everywhere, including in the walls of their home, Hiranyakasipu kicked a pillar. Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the form of a man with a lion’s head, and killed Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada eventually became the king, and had a son named Bali, who was popularly known as Mahabali . Mahabali founded the place of Mahabalipuram. Myths also mention that Gods were jealous of the architectural splendour of the monuments of Mahablipuram, and as a result they caused floods to occur, which submerged most parts of the city, except for a few structures that are seen now.


Shore Temple

The devotees go to this temple to seek blessing of both Shiva and Vishnu at once and also for attaining peace.

How to get there or Accessibility:


Air, Chennai is the nearest airport and if you wish to take a tour to Mahabalipuram then drop into the Chennai Airport. Chennai is 45 km from Mahabalipuram.


The nearest railway station is Chennai Railway Station which is at a distance of 45 kms. Chengalpattu is another station which is at a distance of 29kms and is well connected with other cities in Tamil Nadu.


TMahabalipuram is connected by a number of interconnecting roadways to Chennai, Chengalpattu, Pondicherry and Kanchipuram.

Rare Fact:

The peculiarity about this particular temple is that Vishnu reclines on the floor listening silently to the sounds of names. The figure of Vishnu is found in segments which are to be looked through various doors. The other sculpture is portrayed in such a way that God Vishnu seated in mount Garuda helping Gajendra the elephant found in the southern wall and the northern wall is the portrayals from the life of God Krishna. The grand temple is surrounded by mandapams and compound walls. There is a rock - cut image of a lion being ridden by two young women. The lion has a small square cut in its belly. There is also a carving of a buffalo demon running with a stick in his hand located in the northern side. The temple looks beautiful with lights during weekend evenings.


The city of Mahabalipuram is also popular for the festival of Pongal. The festival is celebrated in mid-January every year. Yet another popular festival that is organised around the same time is the Dance Festival. Far-famed artists put up fabulous performances of Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi dance forms. With the beautiful backdrop of the Shore Temple, the celebrations fill every heart with intense delight.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is from the month of October to March.

Entry fee for the Shore Temple and the Five Rathas:

Rs. 10 for Indian citizens US$ 5 for foreign nationals Free for kids below 15 years


Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104

Hours of opening:

0600 hrs to 1800 hrs on all days. Sale of admission tickets will be closed at 1730 hrs.


Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-

  • Salvation
  • Wealth
  • Relief from diseases
  • Purchase of vehicles
  • Gain Knowledge

Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree

Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.

Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat

Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.

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