April  2005




April  2005 


 Tsunami uncovers
 ancient temples

 Lahore Gymkhana
 Cricket Club


 Government College
 - 140th year reunion

 Visual Arts
 Ameena Ahmed

 South Asia
 World Bank - update
 on South Asia

 Sanjay Suri - an


 Pandit Ram Narayan

Book Reviews
 Sacred Spaces

 C N Bodh - climbing
 the highest peaks

Real Issues
 Public dis-service


 the craft shop

 the print gallery

 the art gallery


 Between Heaven and Hell

  Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in









   about us              back-issues           contact us         search             data bank


  craft shop

print gallery


Tsunami Uncovers

Underwater Ancient City off Mahabalipuram

Three rocky structures with carvings of animals were uncovered by the Dec. 26 tsunami as it hit the coastal town of Mahabalipuram in south-east India. According to T. Satyamurthy, a senior archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India. "As the waves receded, the force of the water removed sand deposits that had covered the structures, which appear to belong to a port city built in the seventh century". The Archaeological Survey of India began underwater investigations after residents reported seeing a temple and other structures as the sea pulled back just before the tsunami hit.

The six-foot rocky structures that have emerged include "an elaborately carved head of an elephant and a horse in flight. Above the elephant's head is a small square-shaped niche with a carved statue of a deity. Another structure uncovered by the tsunami has a reclining lion sculpted on it."

Archaeologists believe these structures to be parts of a temple of an ancient submerged city. "The tsunami has exposed a bas relief which appears to be part of a temple wall or a portion of the ancient port city. Our excavations will throw more light on these," said Satyamurthy

Marine archaeologists from the National Institute of Oceanography had already been working at the site for the last three years, since the time a diving expedition discovered what appeared to be a submerged city. Divers from India and England made the discovery based on the statements of local fishermen and an old Indian legend of the "Seven Pagodas". British traveller J Goldingham had written of the "Seven Pagodas" when he visited Mahabalipuram in 1798.

"These structures could be part of the legendary seven pagodas. With the waters receding and the coastline changing, we expect some more edifices to be exposed," Satyamurthy added.

A granite lion, of a similar age to the temple that had been buried for centuries before the tsunami shifted the sand, also emerged from the waters.

Mahabalipuram, a 7th century pilgrim town, is already well known for its ancient, carved shore temples that have been declared a World Heritage site.



Preliminary Underwater Archaeological Explorations of Mahabalipuram

A team of underwater archaeologists from National Institute of Oceanography NIO have successfully `unearthed’ evidence of submerged structures off Mahabalipuram and established first-ever proof of the popular belief that the Shore temple of Mahabalipuram is the remnant of seven such temples built that were submerged in succession. The discovery was made during a joint underwater exploration with the Scientific Exploration Society, U.K.

The team of archaeologists from NIO, trained in diving, carried out underwater exploration between April 1 – 4, 2002 and have successfully recorded evidence of presence of underwater ruins off Mahabalipuram. The salient features of the findings are as follows:

• Underwater investigations were carried out at 5 locations in 5 – 8 m water depths, 500 to 700 m off the Shore temple.
• Investigations at each location have shown presence of the construction of stone masonry, remains of walls, a big square rock cut remains, scattered square and rectangular stone blocks, big platform and steps leading to it amidst of the geological formations of the rocks that occur locally.
• Most of the structures are badly damaged and scattered in a vast area, having biological growth of Barnacles, Mussels and other organisms.
• The construction pattern and area, about 100m X 50m, appears to be same at each location. The actual area covered by ruins may extend well beyond the explored locations.
• Based on what appears to be a lion figure, at location 4, ruins are inferred to be parts of a temple complex.
• The possible date of the ruins may be 1500-1200 years BP. Pallava dynasty, ruling the area during the period, had constructed many such rock and structural temples in Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram.

To place reasonable arguments on submergence of ruins, full-scale investigations are underway to record the role of sea level fluctuations, coastal erosion and neo-tectonic activities in effecting shoreline changes in the area in the recent past.










Copyright © 2000 - 2005 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.