Tsunami exposes ancient ruins in India

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Friday, March 18, 2005 Probably one of the first good things to come out of the 2004 Tsunami in Asia, ancient ruins were discovered in India. Fishermen along the shores report seeing the ruins along the shoreline near Mahabalipuram when the waters receded just prior to the arrival of the tsunami. Mahabalipuram is a port city of South India, dating back to the 7th century, around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

The fishermen reported a complex consisting of ancient temples. Some mention seeing at least 20 distinct temples, and hundreds of refrigerator-sized blocks. The walls were covered with barnacles, coral and mud. Local folklore tells of an ancient port in the area.

On the shore, three structures consisting of elaborate carvings in the shape of animals were uncovered. The structures appear to have been covered in sand, which had been wiped away by the force of the tsunami. The structures appear to belong to a port city built in the 7th century, said T. Satyamurthy, a senior archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India. The sculptures, representing an elephant, a lion and a flying horse, were commonly used during the Pallava dynasty, which ran from the 4th to the 9th century, archeologists say.

The temples along the shores of Mahabalipuram are already a famous feature of the city, and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Legend has it that the city was home to seven pagodas. Underwater excavations of the area by the archaeological society, run by the Indian government and navy divers, began on Thursday.