Tam: மாமல்லபுரம் mamallapuram

‘Great Wrestler’s City’  [Mahabalipuram]   Town,  Tamil Nadu

From Skt: maha, ‘great’; Skt/Tam: malla, ‘wrestler’, ‘athlete’; and Skt: pura, ‘town’, ‘city’.

Narasimhavarman I was a 7thC Pallava king. He completed the group of rock cut sculptures, cave sanctuaries and the shore temple which Mamallapuram is famous for.

He was also known as Mahamalla, ‘great wrestler’. The name is recorded as Mamallapuram (or something similar) in 7thC inscriptions.

Mahabalipuram appears following  the 16thC and this is what the British called it. Mahabali may be a corruption and is often considered to be related to the myth of Mahabali, a demon king who had won many boons including immortality, but was finally defeated by the dwarf Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu.

For related place names see Indian Place names and Tamil Nadu place names.


Mamallapuram: Arjunas Penance Bas Relief         McKay Savage