Found, the city hidden beneath the sea for 1,500 years

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The Independent Online

Legend has it that a great flood consumed a city off the east coast of India more than 1,500 years ago when the gods grew jealous of its beauty.

Now, pictures of what appear to be submerged ruins off the coastal town of Mahabalipuram in the Bay of Bengal, taken by divers led by a former Royal Marines officer, Monty Hall, are beginning to corroborate the long-held myth.

The joint dive by India's National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society has uncovered a "ruin field" reaching for several miles at a depth of between five and seven metres.

Carved, stone blocks measuring 30 square feet have been uncovered, and are believed to be the foundation stones of a temple. According to local myth, six temples were swallowed by the flood, leaving a seventh standing by the shore. Other finds include an eroded stone lion's head, which traditionally represents the Hindu god Shiva.

Mahabalipuram is full of stone-carved temples, and is described in guidebooks as looking incomplete. It was once the chief port of the Pallavas, who ruled over much of southern India from the first century BC to the eighth century AD.

Fishermen in the region recount tales of their forefathers diving down into temples and becoming trapped behind wooden doors. Back on land, cave temples and gigantic open-air reliefs carved from blocks of granite date to the seventh century AD.

The location of the ruins was pinpointed by Graham Hancock, the bestselling author of The Sign and The Seal, who has studied the myths of this region and stories of similar lost cities in the Mediterranean.

Battling huge waves, the team has had to use fishing boats as there are no dive boats in the area, and nor does the area have any decompression facilities or hospitals.

Mr Hall said the site was at least 1,500 years old. Mr Hancock believes cities such as Mahabalipuram were destroyed when waters rose at the end of the last Ice Age between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago, swallowing up about 25 million sq kilometres of formerly habitable lands.