Mahabalipuram – The history beckons you
The famous travel destination in Indian state of Tamilnadu, Mahabalipuram is an ancient historic town that was a busy seaport for trade since 1st century. According to mythology related to this city, Mahabalipuram was named after demon king Mahabali who was killed by Lord Vishnu. That name was later changed to Mamallapuram after Pallava king Narashima Varman got the title of Mamalla or the great wrestler. It’s at a distance of 60 km from Chennai.
Why Visit Mahabalipuram/ Mamallapuram
Mahabalipuram is famous for its group of monuments located on the Coromandal coast in Kancheepuram District. Its monuments from 7th century AD were built by Pallava kings. In 1984 the monuments complex came under classification of UNESCO world heritage sites. The old edifices have brilliant architecture, exquisite carving in temples, cave temples and other monuments dedicated to various Mahabharata time characters and other Gods & Goddesses of Hindu mythology.
How to reach Mahabalipuram
- By air– Nearest airport is Chennai Airport 50 km and Puducherry airport is 97 km
- By Train– Nearest station is Chengalpattu 24 km away
- By Bus– Mahabalipuram is well connected to all the major cities of South India and certain metros.
Best time to visit
Mahabalipuram has moderate, though humid climate suitable for the visits round the year, but the months from October to March are the best.
There are hundreds of hotels from budget to star category, government accommodations, cottages and guest houses are aplenty that can be booked online.
Food at Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is having scores of great restaurants that serve excellent food. That ranges from sea food such as grilled fish, Lobsters, Prawns and crabs etc. You can have vegetarian extravaganza of South Indian food such as complete platter- thali, besides Dosa, Appam, Vada, Idli, uttapam, upma, Kesari, payassam, sweet and salty Pongal etc. The list is too long to choose from. You can try food from North India also in restaurants here.
Main attractions of Mahabalipuram
Ratha temples are located just 1.5 km from the Mahabalipuram bus-stand on rocky and sandy coastal vicinity. The famous chariot shape temples have five monolithic temples built with granite and diorite stones. The 7th century temples’ architecture are in the shape of five chariots of Pandavas from the epic Mahabharta. These are named Dharmaraja Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Bhim Ratha, Nakul & Sahadeva Ratha and Draupadi Ratha. Besides these, there is another edifice named Ganesha Ratha nearby. The single stone temples are beautifully carved beautifully and skillfully into animal figures and human figures.
There are other structures in the area
Descent of Ganga
Or Arjun or Bhagirtha’s penance is located just 0.5km from Mahabalipuram Bus station, it’s a massive open air Bas- relief sculpted monolithic rock 96 feet long and 43 feet high, it is amazing to watch.
Mandapam or cave temples
5 km from the bus station the cave temples are 14 rock cut carves, mythological stories are depicted through carving on the stone. The display is in great details that speak volumes for the sculptors of that era. There are three important cave temples.
Varaha cave temple
5 km away from Bus station, one of the temple from Mandapam or caves is cut through the rocks, a small temple is dedicated to Varaha the avatar of Lord Vishnu.
The biggest of the cave temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, the carvings exhibit Krishna’s adulthood time’s incidents.
Exquisite inscriptions of battle between Goddess Durga and buffalo-headed demon Mahishasur, are the temple’s highlights.
A well architecture temple along the shore facing Bay of Bengal with its entrance on the other side, it’s a five story layered temple, not cut from the rocks like rest of them, recent excavations are revealing many more edifices within the complex.
At a distance of 5 km Tiger caves are located in a coastal village. The cabs and autos are available from the bus station. The big manadapam is dedicated mainly to Goddess Durga, with carvings depicting her battle with demon Mahishasur. There are few more mythological figures that have mandapas there.
A temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu is known as Sthalasayana Perumal Temple. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture,it is located 1.5 km from bus station.
An old light house from year 1894 is also worth seeing.
A unique round huge rock perched on a hill side defying the law of gravity. People get them photographed with the rock there, as if they are lifting the rock.
Museum and Gallery
Located 1 km from the bus station the museum is having great sculptures’ collection of Hindu mythological Gods and Goddesses. Buddhist sculptures are there too. The artifacts tell their own story, surly worth a visit.
Just 2 km from the bus station the sea beach is worth a sight with sparkling waves and sandy landscapes.
Sadras beach resort
Sadras is one beautiful sea beach located 13 km from Mahabalipuram. Surrounded by green Casuarinas, white beaches and blue-green sea, Sadras is one happy spot for a day-out.
When visiting Mahabalipuram one can go and see Puducherry just 99 km from there via east coast road. The buses go there regularly. Originally a French settlement, Puducherry reflects French influence in its old buildings and churches. For scuba divers good facilities are available there.
Activities- One can do and see many things
- Visit to crocodile farm– a famous crocodile breeding center, many reptiles and lizard species are found there.
- Water Surfing and Angling
- Visit to Wild Tribe Ranch- A multi-adventure park
- Bicycle excursions– you can hire bicycles and have a great time in the town.
- Shopping– One can shop sculptures and other artifacts here.
Festivals– A famous Mahaballipuram Dance festival is organized in Jan./Feb., where exponents of classical south Indian dance forms come and perform for a big audience.
In January, people also celebrate Pongal with immense delight and zeal.
Mahabalipuram/ Mamallapuram is a unique tourist place in Tamil Nadu state of India offering insight to history as well as glimpse of natural surroundings.