Mamallapuram’s historical significance for India & China; here’s why it’s the venue for PM Modi & Prez Jinping’s meet

Xi, Modi, Doklam, border skirmish, Sino-Indian relationship, trade, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Pakistan, Hafiz Sayeed, South China Sea,
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The second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to be held in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu on October 11-12, 2019. The summit kick start at 5 pm on October 11th, 2019.

So, why the city of Mamallapuram?

Historical Significance-

The mighty Gupta Empire’s rule came to an end in the 6th century AD. The empire extended its frontiers across all parts of the nation. However, they couldn’t penetrate their reigns into the deep southern part of the country.

It was the Pallavans who ruled this part of the country. They ruled over large parts of modern-day Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Tamil literature flourished during this period.

Their rule is considered to be a golden rule in Indian History.

The kingdom had a vibrant trade and defence relationship with the Chinese.

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Trade with the neighbouring nations along with China was an importance economic aspect of the kingdom. Trade with Ceylon and South East Asia prospered under the patronage extended by the kings. Many coins from China have been found in the city.

According to Archaeological Survey of India, the city is an ancient port. Even the Chinese traveller, Hsuien Tsang confirmed it in his writings and spoke greatly of the city.

It was in the early 8th century that the Chinese king sought the help of the Pallavan king Rajasimhan to ward of the invasions from Tibet. The brave Tamil king’s fame was well known even in faraway lands.

Pallavan ruler Bodhidharman.

Another Pallavan King Bodhivarman travelled all the way to China and taught the Chinese Martial Arts and traditional medicine. The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng County, Henan Province has honoured this great king and continues to pay its respects. This temple is an UNESCO world heritage site.

Logistical concerns-

According to government sources, various other places for this informal summit were being considered including the Prime Minister’s constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

However, only the Anna International Airport could accommodate the Chinese president’s aircraft and hence this was one of the reasons why the venue was chosen.

Anna International Airport, Chennai

It is also said that the Prime Minister wanted to assure the importance of the Tamil Nadu state to its residents in the national development and international arena.

The city is known for the unique art and architecture of Southern India.

The summit begins with the visit to the three magnificent world heritage sites: The monument of Bhagiratha’s penance, the shore temple and Panch Rathas.

A brief description of these monuments is as follows:

  1. Bhagiratha’s penance or the descent of the Ganges monument– It is said that Bhagiratha, a king of the Ikshvaku dynasty to appease his ancestors wanted to bring the river Ganges from heaven to earth. As per mythology, the lord of Ganges said that only Lord Shiva will be able to make this task possible. The king then went on to meditate for many years and finally his wish was granted. This rock cut monument is a tribute to the king who achieved this task.
The Descent of the Ganges or the Bhagiratha’s Penance

A brief description of this monument is as follows:

The monument is an open-air rock cut monument carved into two monolithic rock boulders.

It dates back to the 7th century reign of the Pallavan king Narasimhavarman.

 It contains over hundred images of humans, animals, other living beings.

It depicts the scene where the Ganges is brought down to the earth.

On the top is located a water tank to signify the Ganges river.

  1. The Shore Temple

 These group of temples have achieved the status of UNESCO world site. It was built during the reign of Narasimhavarman. It is also the oldest structural temple in India as opposed to the rock cut temples that had been the norm.

The Shore Temple

It is a 5 storeyed temple with a combined complex of 3 shrines. 2 dedicated to Lord Shiva and 1 dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is said that there are six more temples which have been submerged below sea level.

  1. Panch Rathas– This is a group of five rock cut chariots which distinguishes the Pallavans from other dynasties.

It dates back to the 7th century and has been named after the Pandavas and Draupadi.

This monument has throughout history withstood the effects of various catastrophic events such as the recent Tsunami in 2004-05.

The Panch Rathas

The five rathas from North to south are in the order of Draupadi Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, Bhima Ratha and Dharmarja Ratha. Apart from this there is also three large sculptures of a lion, the Nandi bull and an elephant.

History binds both nations and it is expected to also soothe the tensions that exist between the two gigantic neighbours.

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