In a landmark discovery, geologists in Tamil Nadu have stumbled upon conclusive evidence of ancient sunken temples off the coast of Mahabalipuram in their latest expedition. With further discoveries, they say they could also find remains of the entire sunken town.
The first step to the discovery was a rumor among the tourists in the temple town of Mahabalipuram. In the devastating tsunami of 2004, when the shoreline receded back, a row of boulders were revealed. It was quickly engulfed again when the waters rushed to the shores. But what the tourists saw back then have been confirmed to be true – an ancient port town, buried under the sea.
The latest expedition took place between March 10 and 18, about 800 metres from the shore, 27 feet deep.
The team of 10 from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) found a 10 metre long wall, a stone block structure and a flight of stairs. While some of the structures were damaged over time, thick aquatic growth made identifying specifics quite difficult.
The archeologists in the team date the remains to about 1000 or 1500 years ago, along with brick structures probably from the Sangham period.
Soon after the tourist sighting of the row of rocks, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) undertook an expedition to the area in 2005. With the help of the Navy, they used a sonar detector to look for the remains. They discovered a 6-foot high 70 metre wall, along with a cave temple and two other temples.
According to a legend, there were six other temples on the shoreline, along with the famous Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram. Together, they were called the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram. They were built in the 8th century under Narasimhavarman II. The temples, along with its adjacent town and port, was submerged in 952 AD by a tsunami, some historians suggest.