Friday, March 25, 2016

Sunken city off Mahabalipuram – connection from Bali to Krishna times.

Recently a news item said that a ‘sunken town’ was discovered off the coast of Mahabalipuram. This particular structure became partly visible during the tsunami of 2004. This structure has been hypothesized (not dated) to be little more than 1000 years old. But the background impetus to explore this structure, given in the news item makes a disturbing reading.

Mr Rajiv Nigam, the chief of the team of explorers of this site is quoted (in italics) to have said, ““From the Gujarat experience (of having discovered a sunken town off the Gulf of Cambay dated at 9000 years BP) we know the sea level around 3,500 years ago was lower than what we see now. But 6,000 years ago it was higher. We wanted to see if the pattern is the same at other coasts,”

But even at the time of discovery of the sunken town in Gulf of Cambay (2001- 2002), it was reported in 2002 by Graham Hancock that a sunken town was found off Mahabalipuram that could be dated at 6000 years before present. (Read here and here). The sea level being low in the past, was very much in the know of the scientific community at that time itself. Even at that time Dr Glenn Milne, the researcher known for having worked on sea level rise and fall, had given the opinion that the sunken structures of Mahabalipuram coincide with the time period of sea level that was 6000 years ago.

Without giving any thought to those opinions, the researchers at present have just said that they carried out the research at Mahabalipuram driven by Cambay experience. If Cambay experience is the trigger, how could they account for structures and townships found at 27 ft depth? Land subsidence? Or lower sea level in the past?

The temple made of stone might have made them think that it belongs to the Pallava period. Only Pallavas were known to have started the construction of temples in stone. But the structures indicating the presence of a township needs a proper dating that includes assessment of the sea level too. This part of Mahabalipuram has a famous Vishnu temple which was supposed to have been rebuilt for the 7th time with old ones having been lost to the seas for 6 times in the past. Old timers were said to have heard from their ancestors that there was a time when the sunken towers of the previous temples could be seen above the sea waters.

In my opinion there were 7 times the city of Mahabalipuram was lost and rebuilt. By the name “Mahabalipuram”, it is known that the city had a past connected with Mahabali of Vamana avathara times.

Graham Hancock’s research also shows similar results. Hancock quotes a traveller’s report done 300 years ago. One Mr William Chambers made a visit to Mahabalipuram between 1772 and 1776 and heard the legends of Mahablipuram from the Brahmins. This was written as follows by Hancock:

“The God Vishnu had deposed a corrupt and wicked Raja of these parts at some unknown date in the remote past and had replaced him on the throne with the gentle Prahlada whose reign “was a mild and virtuous one”. Pralahada was succeeded by his son and then by his grandson Bali, said to have been the founder of the once magnificent city of Mahabalipuram (which, translated literally, means “the city of the great Bali” or more likely “the city of the giant Bali”). Bali’s dynasty continued with his son Banasura – also portrayed as a giant- but during his reign disaster struck:

Aniruddha, the [grand]son of Krishna, came to his [Banasura’s] court in disguise and seduced his daughter, which produced a war in the course of which Aniruddha was taken prisoner and brought to Mahabalipuram; upon which Krishna came in person from his capital Dwarka and laid siege to the place.

Although the God Siva himself fought on the side of Banasura they could not prevail. Krishna found a way to overthrow Siva, captured the city and forced Banasura into submission and lifelong fealty.
An interval followed, after which another Raja – whose name was Malecheren — took the throne at Mahabalipuram. He encountered a being from the heavenly realms who became his friend and agreed “to carry him in disguise to see the court of the divine Indra” – a favour that had never before been granted to any mortal:

The Raja returned from thence with new ideas of splendour and magnificence, which he immediately adopted in regulating his court and his retinue, and in beautifying his seat of government. By this means Mahabalipuram became soon celebrated beyond all the cities of the earth; and an account of its magnificence having been brought to the gods assembled at the court of Indra, their jealousy was so much excited at it that they sent orders to the God of the Sea to let loose his billows and overflow a place which impiously pretended to vie in splendour with their celestial mansions. This command he obeyed, and the city was at once overflowed by that furious element, nor has it ever since been able to rear its head.”

This oral tradition is supported by some references in Silappadhikaram and a temple in Thiruthangal.
The parts on Bali (Vamana avathara) and Prahladha (Nrisimha avathara) were something which I will write separately in a future post by a multi-pronged approach, for they took place at a place somewhere in the sunken parts of Indonesian archipelago at a time when Ice age was on and Sundaland was a highland (20000 years +).

The Prahladha connection brings in lion images which Hancock seems to have seen at location 4 in the sunken part. It is not exactly a lion but a lion like structure that is not of Pallava period, according to Hancock. For that matter, one must know that the east coast of India has most important shrines of Narasimha (Half lion bodied God) than any other part of India, for the reason that the legend of Narasimha travelled from Sundaland (where Hiranyapura of Hiranyakashipu was situated) to the east coast of India. When Sundaland started sinking in bouts or gradually, the immediate place of refuge for survivors could be in the east coast of India. That is how Mahabalipuram came to be occupied by the descendants of Prahladha.

It must be remembered that Haplogroup O2a which is found among the Indonesians and Malays is also found among some tribes of Andhra Pradesh. More research is needed on this fact of genetics. This similarity indicates the movement of people between Indonesia and East coast of India. It must also be pointed out here that the famous Narasimha shrine of Ahobilam is near the east coast of Andhra. The memory of Narasimha had traveled from Hiranyapura in Sundaland to the east coast of India first and to rest of India later.

Ugra Stambham at Ahobilam.

The city of Mahabalipuram must have been rebuilt 7 times in the past. The oral tradition on the presence of 7 Vishnu temples, all of which are the same but built every time after the previous one was lost into the seas reinforce the idea that a temple for Vishnu which was originally established by someone in Prahaladha’s or Bali’s lineage was resurrected every time after it was lost.  That means this part of sea must have seen submergences for a minimum number of 6 times.

As the present day contours of Srilanka came into being around 10,000 years ago (when Shoora samhara by Muruga took place), Mahabalipuram of that time could have suffered submergence then. A new city must have been built in the shore after that. But that could have been 6000 or 7000 years ago. The structure that Hancock refers to might be of that period.

Again a new city was built in the remaining shore. krishna's grandson's (Aniruddh) wife Usha belonged to that city. Krishna visited that city to secure the release of Aniruddh for which he for the first time did "karakaattam" (kuda-k-kootthu) - a dance done by balancing pots on the head. That city was referred to as “VANan pErUr” in Silappadhikaram. The capital of the city was known as “ChO”.

Krishna secured the release of Aniruddh and Usha and had them married in a place called Thiruthangal. There is a Vishnu temple  at that place celebrating that wedding. That this is a real story can be ascertained from the fact that there is a Usha ki math, now known as Ukhimath in Kedarnath where Usha was said to have spent her last days.

Usha ki Mutt (Ukkhimath)

A donation made by King Janamejaya (the great grandson of Arjuna)  at Kedarnath is found at this Mutt (Read here).

The Aniruddh- Usha incident happened 5000 years ago (Krishna’s times).After that incident that is, 5000 years ago, that city was once again swallowed by the sea. Every time the city was lost, it was rebuilt on the shores. What we see today as Mahabalipuram nurtured by the Pallavas is the city constructed for the 7th time. The Pallavas were the descendants of Ashwaththama, son of Dronacharya. Their inscriptions show this connection to Ashwaththama who wrecked havoc similar to a nuclear war. As if to propitiate for the sin of killing unarmed youngsters during sleep and countless others by Ashwaththama , the Pallavas initiated new methods of water conservation and distribution (as if to offer water oblations / tarpan). They also promoted worship of Vishnu in a big and grand way.

But alas one among them became so self-centred that he changed the age old name of Mahabalipuram into Mamallapuram – a name to glorify his wrestling ability.  Interestingly the original name of that Pallava king was Narasimha varman, the name of Lion God whose legend is connected with Prahladha.

Mahabalipuram having such a rich past that goes back in time to 20,000 years plus period, much before the rest of Indian sub continent became peopled with, the casual approach to the discoveries in the sea bed makes a disturbing reading.

So far, in the history of Bharat, only three cities had been built and rebuilt every time after they were lost, due to inundation in all the three cases. That shows the tremendous importance,  history and culture attached to those places. They are Dwaraka, Madurai and Mahabalipuram. Of these the last Madurai was built inland to avoid submergence. All these three places have past histories going back upto 12000 + years. In the case of Mahabalipuram, with sunken places coming into our knowledge let us hope the ASI takes serious interest and does more research on this section of the sea.

Related articles:-




When the shoreline receded during the 2004 tsunami, tourists in Mamallapuram swore they saw a long row of granite boulders emerge from the sea, before it was swallowed again as the water hurtled forward.

More than a decade later, a team of scientists and divers have uncovered what eyewitnesses saw on that fateful day – vestiges of an ancient port.

In a discovery that could lead to more underwater explorations off the historic town of Mamallapuram, a group from National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has found the remains of a port or ruins of one of the six shore temples which, according to legend, went under water. The 10-member team, comprising divers, geologists and archaeologists, found a 10m-long wall, a short flight of stairs, and chiselled stone blocks scattered on the seabed.

They were found 800m from the shoreline at a depth of nearly 27ft. Rajiv Nigam, head of the marine archaeology unit of NIO, said the divers found it difficult to identify many of the structures as they were covered with thick aquatic growth.

“Some of them are badly damaged due to strong underwater currents and swells. However, we could make out that they were part of a building complex,” said Nigam, who led the exploration from March 10-18.

Archaeologists on board the vessel that bobbed around a 12 square kilometers area, where the remains were found, believe the structures could be around 1,100 to 1,500 years old.

“We also found some brick structures, which were sighted more during the Sangam period (300 BC- 200 AD),” said Nigam, who also pitched in with research after a team in 2001 stumbled upon a 9,000-year-old underwater town in the Gulf of Cambay near Gujarat. Nigam, a geologist, embarked on the project in Mamallapuram after studying the history of sea-level pattern.

“From the Gujarat experience, we know the sea level around 3,500 years ago was lower than what we see now. But 6,000 years ago it was higher. We wanted to see if the pattern is the same at other coasts,” he said.

T Sathyamurthy, former superintending archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Circle, said such explorations are gradually proving myths as fact. In April 2005, ASI and the Navy began searching the waters off the coast of Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) by boat, using sonar technology.

“We discovered that the row of large stones people had seen immediately before the tsunami were part of a 6ft-high, 70m-long wall. We also found remains of two other submerged temples and one cave temple within 500m of the shore,” he said.

However, the team wasn’t equipped to take underwater images. Historians say many of these structures, including the port, could have gone under water because of a tsunami-like event that took place in 952AD.

Geophysical survey data from past explorations also confirm the submergence of a large area comprising a building complex, which, they say could be possible remains of a submerged township. A global sea level rise of even 1-2mm per year would inundate up to several hundred metres of coast line over a period of 2,000 years.

Other reason for submergence of these structures could be soil erosion and tectonic movement.


ceedaar said...

thank you madam for your article. i am too small to be a motivator. actually
you are our motivator. will surely go thru the article like all others.

unfortunately i miss more than 50 % of your articles (and our sampradayam) because of not knowing tamilz.

anyways i do enjoy your posts
thanks again for coming back to posting on your website. they are many followers of your brilliant analysis.
kind regards

jayasree said...

@ceedaar, certainly the thought of readers like you waiting to read my articles keep me motivated to write. My next one on cosmology combined with the myth of Trishanku is ready for posting. I will post it tomorrow. Keep tuned.

Aarthi Kannan said...

I love your blogs (both English and tamil ) especially for the multi pronged approach to deduce what would have actually happened and when it would have happened as well! Just one clarification required on this blog. Are you saying that Sundaland witnessed a deluge between Prahlada's time and Banasura's? So Nrsimha appeared in Sundaland but Krishna's kudakkoothu happened in Mahabalipuram?

jayasree said...

Thanks Ms Aarthi. Happy to know that there are readers like you keenly reading my blogs. In this context a clarification to ceedaar. I try to avoid writing in Tamil in this blog as most readers are non-Tamils. Most of what I write in Tamil in this blog are on politics of Tamilnadu. So be assured that you wont miss anything worthy to know. I take care to see that research oriented articles are in English.

The exception is my blogspot on "Thamizhan Dravidanaa?" which is in Tamil. There are rare ideas of research and historical importance in that blogspot. One of them is on Sundaland. Ms Aarthi, please check article no 112 and 113 in that blogspot ( and

There I have traced the locations told by Narada in Mahabharata in the southern direction. Hiranyaksha, Hiranya kashipu, Prahalladha, Virochana, Bali, Narakasura, Namuchi, Vatapi, Ilvala, Sunda, Upasunda and the episode on Thilotthama - all these were associated with Sundaland only. This area was the Asura land where Daityas (Chinese are the descendants) and Danavas (Europeans who migrated to Europe later) existed. In Mahabharata, there are quite a few references to arrive at the conclusion that this area was peopled with the entities I mentioned above.

Just a simple logic. The Varaha avathara of lifting land from waters can happen in a place sunken in the sea. Wherever the lifting from waters had happened there Varaha was said to ahve manifested. Example is Baramulla which was originally known as Varaha mula. But that was a small place and in high altitude. Looking at vast regions or regions where it mattered for mankind to survive, the receding of waters in the south east asian sea about 25,000 years ago that saw the emergence of Sundaland makes a better candidate. Narada's description of the geography also tallies with that.

In the case of Hiranya kashipu, presence of lions in a geographic region is a precondition for that avathara. Sundaland in SE asia was a better candidate for that. Read my 114th article on Virochana and Bali ideas in Indonesia of which Virochana idea travelled to Incas in South America.

By the time of Bali, Sundaland was almost submerged and came to the present level of archipelago. At that time, according to me, dispersal had happened and Bali's descendants had moved towards east India. Look at the world map of Sundaland and India. The wind direction can easily take refugees to east India from that place. At that time there must have been extended land parts in east coast of India. That Mahabalipuram was one such a place is known from oral legends on cities and temples in what is now sea. Banasura had lived in that place and Krishna had done Kudakkootthu there. This was 5000 years ago.

Narasimha avathara had happened in Sundaland when it was a high land. That means Narasimha avathara period is clearly 20,000 years + ago. All these need detailed research which I am confident of doing sometime and posting them here.

jayasree said...

My article on Trishanku that he was the Southern Pole star had been posted. It can be read here:-