The World Heritage Site - Mahabalipuram:- Intricately rock-cut caves and carved temples can be witnessed by tourists in the beautiful place of Mahabalipuram. Along with beautiful white sand beaches, it is an exotic shopping experience to the tourists.
The architecture, the serenity, the alluring atmosphere and the impressive setting are all reasons as to why one would want to visit this wonderful town. Some exquisite species of crocodiles and alligators are present in the Crocodile Bank, which is fun for children. A tranquil atmosphere is provided by the Five Rathas and is a highly knowledgeable place to be. The fishing villages, Kovalam and Sadras have turned into exotic beach resorts and a must visit when in Mahabalipuram.
Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram is located in the Kancheepuram district. It is one of the oldest cities in India and is known for its various stone carved monuments and ancient temples. Located in Tamilnadu, Mahabalipuram, during the 1st Century to 140 AD was a port town and was ruled by the ancient Pallava dynasty. The commissioning of most of the monuments have been attributed with the Pallava Kings Mahendravarman I and Narsimhavarman I back in the 7th and 8th century AD. The groups of monuments located here have also been deemed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Fairs And Festivals
Pongal, the most important festival of the Tamils, is celebrated in mid-January every year. The festival is celebrated amidst gaiety and joy not only in Tamil Nadu but also in most parts of South India.
For the dance lovers to enjoy the performances of the artists from all parts of the country, the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is a rejoice. The festival is celebrated in the month of January/February every year. The backdrop of this festival is formed by the Shore Temple and the music from the musical instruments mixes with the natural music of wind and the sea. An occasion where artists from all over the country come together to perform, is the Mahabalipuram Dance festival.
In the month of March, the festivals such as Sthalasayana Perumal, Masimagam and Brahmothsavam, are held.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit this place is during October to March. It is advisable to travel in the monsoon season.
How To Reach
By Air - The nearest airport from Mahabalipuram is Chennai (Madras), located around 60 km away. One can get flights for almost all major destinations in India and abroad.
By Rail - The nearest railway station, Chengalpattu, is around 29 km away from Mahabalipuram. Trains for Chennai and several other major cities in South India are available from here.
By Road - Mamallapuram is connected by road to Chennai, Tirukkalikundram (Pakshithirtham), Kanchipuram (65 km), and Pondicherry. All India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportation would be provided and also for the intercity drives too.
Places To Visit In Mahabalipuram
1) Mahabalipuram Beach
Sunny days, sandy beaches and a rich history almost sum up Mahabalipuram in its entirety. The beach is beautiful, white and clean, and can be enjoyed abundantly by tourists.
2) Shore Temple
The name of the temple is so because of it overlooking the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Carved out of granite, the Shore Temple is alternatively called the 7 Pagodas. The reason is that due to some unconfirmed evidence that the complex till a Tsunami hit the shores in the 13th century AD, had 7 Pagodas.
A distinctive Pallava style architecture with the finely cut granite temple decorated with various rock cut reliefs and sculptures.
3) Pancha Rathas
Designed in the form of 5 chariots are the Pancha Rathas. Named after the Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharatha. The tallest one among the carved monoliths is around 40 feet high. In the designs, the distinctive Dravidian architectural style of the Pallavas is prevalent. The intricately carved sculptures belonging to various gods and demi-gods of the Hindu mythology that are placed in the niches in the chariot shaped temples are a marvel to behold.
The 2004 tsunami caused a massive damage to many of the archeological monuments here. However the site has been well preserved through the years and is still considered the best collection of Pallava architecture and art.
4) Tiger’s Caves
Tiger's Caves is near the coastal village of Salurankuppam that is only 5 kilometers to the north of Mahabalipuram. This spectacular mandap contains a shrine that is solely dedicated to the wondrous goddess Durga.
There are massive yet impressive figures placed in front of the caves. As with most carvings in India, the carvings and figures tell a story. The stories here have to do with an event that occured with the goddess Durga. The Tiger's Caves are a fantastic picnic spot, so you may want to plan your day s that you are there at lunch time.
5) Arjuna’s Penance
Arjuna’s Penance is a huge open-air sculpture. Various events that occurred during Arjuna’s Penance are displayed here. The sculpting which is done on the rocks is intricate and is amazingly detailed and is unlike any other that is found in India.
6) Crocodile Bank
The Crocodile Bank is located 14 kilometers from Mahabalipuram. It was established by herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 1976. It holds a varied species of Indian and African alligators and crocodiles.
They are kept in open pools that are made to resemble their natural habitat. This Crocodile Conservation Center is the most popular site to visit at Crocodile Bank. A snake farm is also located at this site. Anti-venom is produced here in laboratries. The process of extracting the snake venom is a popular tourist attraction, and it allows the Irulas, the snake catcher's tribe, to make a living.
The village of Kovalam was once upon a time a small fishing village that was located 15 kilometers from Mahabalipuram. Today, that fishing village is still there, but has also expanded to become one of the most exotic and spectacular beach resorts in all of India.
You can still explore the old sea port that used to exist there. Numerous quality beach resorts can be found at Kovalam. The beaches here are absolutely exquisite, and are greatly enjoyed by everyone alike. The most alluring part of this village are the Olive Ridley turles that travel to these sands every year to lay and hatch their eggs.
Sadras is an exquisite beach resort that has taken full advantage of the beautiful landscape. The beaches that surround Mahabalipuram are beset by beautiful, green casuarinas groves.
The contrast of the vibrant green with the sparkling white beaches is breathtaking, and a sight that is a delight to everyone who has to will to enjoy it. This beach resort is located 13 kilometers outside of Mahabalipuram. There is an old ruined Dutch Fort and a Dutch cemetery with finely embossed headstones. It is intruging to explore some of the Dutch history in the region as well as that of India itself.
The Thirukadalmallai or the Sthalasayana Perumal Temple, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams or Temple dedicated to the Lord. The temple was built by the Pallavas around 8th century BC. The Divya Desams are the 108 temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu that were built by the Tamil Azhvars or Saints. You will see a Dravidian Pallava style architecture with a white colored gopuram that is a marvel to behold.