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Descent of the Ganges (Mahabalipuram)

Descent of the Ganges (Mahabalipuram)

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'''Descent of the Ganges''' at [[Mahabalipuram]], in the [[Tamil Nadu]] state [[India]], is one of a group of monuments that were designated as a [[World Heritage Site]] since 1984. Measuring {{convert|96|ft|m}} long by {{convert|43|ft|m}} high, it is a giant open-air relief carved of the a [[monolith]]ic rock. The monuments and sanctuaries were built by the [[Pallava]] kings in the 7th and 8th centuries. The legend depicted in the relief is the story of the descent of the sacred river [[Ganges River|Ganges]] to earth from the heavens led by [[Bhagiratha]]. The waters of the Ganges are believed to possess supernatural powers. The descent of the Ganges and '''[[Arjuna]]'s Penance''' are portrayed in stone at the Pallava heritage site. == Two Interpretations == [[Image:Ganga Mahabalipuram2.jpg|thumb|left|Relief detail]] In one interpretation, a figure in the bas-relief who is standing on one leg is said to be [[Arjuna]] performing an austerity [[Tapas]] to receive a boon from [[Shiva]] as an aid in fighting the [[Mahabharata war]]. (The boon which Arjuna is said to have received was called Pasupata, Shiva's most powerful weapon). The bas relief is situated on a rock with a cleft. Above the cleft was a collecting pool, and at one time, water may have flowed along the cleft. Figures within the cleft are said to represent [[Ganga (goddess)|Ganga]] or the River Ganges and Shiva. This provides the basis for an alternative interpretation of the mural. Rather than Arjuna, the figure performing austerities is said to be [[Bhagiratha]]. Bhagiratha is said to have performed austerities so that Ganga might descend to earth and wash over the ashes of his relatives, releasing them from their sins. To break Ganga's fall from heaven to earth, she falls onto Shiva's hair, and is divided into many streams by his tresses. {{clr}} == Figures == One of the notable, and perhaps ironic figures in the bas-relief is the figure of a cat standing on one leg (apparently as an austerity). This may be related to the [[Panchatantra]] as an ascetic in order to lure a hare and a bird to come near. (When near, he devours them.) [[Image:Mahabalipuram pano2.jpg|800px|thumb|center|Panoramic view of Mahabalipuram]] ==See also== *[[Varaha Cave Temple]] *[[Shore Temple]] *[[Pancha Rathas]] *[[Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram]] ==External links== *[http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/0600_0699/mamallapuram/descent/descent.html Photos of the site] *[http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/india/mahabalipuram/arjuna-penance.php Asian Historical Architecture: Arjuna's Penance] *[http://www.webindia123.com/monuments/other/arujan.htm narrative] {{Template group |list = {{World Heritage Sites in India}} }} {{coord missing|Tamil Nadu}}