The coastal town of Mahabalipuram or Mammalapuram is a must-visit destination if you are in the south India. The Rockcaves and Temples are among the most famous in India partly for their age and partly for their quirky architecture. These Pallava temples were carved out of huge rocks and though the coarse sea air is taking its toll and some of the structures were left incomplete, they attract scores of visitors every year. The Mahabalipuram temples are probably the earliest specimens of Dravidian architecture. No longer active as temples, they are prized for their architectural value. The ruling Pallavas ordered their construction around the 8th century. Pallava architecture are modelled on the Budhist viharas or monasteries and chaitya halls with several cells arranged around a courtyard. Art historian Percy Brown, in fact, traces the possible roots of the Pallavan Mandapas to the similar rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora. Referring to Narasimhavarman's victory in AD 642 over the Chalukyan king Pulakesin II, Brown says the Pallavan king may have brought the sculptors and artisans back to Kanchi and Mamallapuram as 'spoils of war'
Panch Pandya temples have been carved out of monoliths and each one is associated with one of the Pandava brothers, heroes of the epic mahabharata. They have all the characteristic features of a south Indian temple like Gopurams, a pillared hall, and sculptures on the walls.
Close to these is the two-spire sea Shore Temple,
which was built in the 8th century and is one of the remarkable samples of Dravidian architecture. It has shrines to Shiva and Vishnu. Originally much closer to the water, the temples now stand about 100m inland as the waters have receded.
The Krishna Mandapam is the world’s largest bas-relief with detailed carvings of gods, animals, insects, and birds. Arjuna’s Penance is a panel that shows the hero of the Mahabharata obtaining a prized divine weapon from Shiva. Stories out of the Indian version of Aesop’s Fables, the Panchatantra, are also carved on this rock. The eight rock-cut caves are carved with depictions of scenes from various legends.
Walk down to the old lighthouse on the way to Krishna’s Butterball, a huge rock that is precariously balanced on its tip on a sloping rock face. 5 km off are the carved Tiger Caves, which used to be an ancient open-air theatre.
The best time to visit this pleasant seaside temple town is between mid-Jan and mid-Feb. The weather’s great and more importantly, the annual Mammalapuram Dance Festival is on when the best performers of Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Kathakali perform on weekends through the month. The harvest festival of Pongal is also celebrated around then.
The Mammalapuram Dance Festival showcases the best of Indian classical dance. Puppet shows and tribal dances, folk and classical music concerts are also on.
There are many getaways around the town that are worth a ‘dekho’. The marshy 30 hectares of Vedanthangal (53 km) are a haven for migratory birds. November to February is when cormorants, pelicans, swans, the blue winged teal, herons, spoonbills, the white ibis, sandpipers, and darters flock here in droves.
The silk and temple town of Kanchipuram is only 66 km from here. It attracts silk connoisseurs, temple buffs and the simply curious in droves.
Getting There : Mammalapuram is fairly well connected to the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu. The closest airport is at Chennai, which is 58km from Mahabalipuram. The road is good and you can rent a car and be driven along the coast – it’s a pleasant and pretty drive.
Mahabalipuram is well connected with the rest of the state. Buses from Chennai, Pondicherry and Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram are frequent.
Location : Located in Tamilnadu,near to Chennai(58 kms).
Area : 8 sq. kms.
Population : Approx. 12,049.
Tourist Spot »
From Mahabalipuram Town(Bus Stand) - All the below are located between 5 to 15 kms
- Shore Temple.
- Light House .
- Big Stone .
- Located in around to mahabalipuram- 15 kms