Tamil Nadu: Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram


Mahabalipuram, the city of seven pagodas, is now known as Mamallapuram. 10 cave temples were carved out of the hills which were nestled in Bay of Bengal. Each of the 9 monolithic chariots was also carved out of the 9 separate stones. The pleasing architectures on the hills are impressive. The shore temple atop the hill definitely deserves a visit. The artistic representations of various edifices, built by the kings of Pallavas dynasty, around the city look amazing. The dotted temples of South India mainly depict the carvings of various Hindu deities but Mahibalipuram is different. Carvings on the walls of the temple of Mahabalipuram depict various stories related to the social lifestyles. Mahabalipuram is famous for its striking Dravid architectures. Palar River is the prime source of water supply of the city.

Mahabalipuram, the business city of Hyderabad was also a famous port city previously. Shiva and Vishnu temples of the locale speak the ancient Indian history.

The meditation of Arjuna has been aesthetically imprinted on the hilly rocks. 27*9 meters wide sculpture depicts the flair of Byas relief architectures. The largest sculpture depicting the Byas relief architecture was created during 630-670. The skillful artists depicted innumerable mythological sculptures on the rocks. The carvings which display the facades of various Hindu deities look marvelous. The Baraha temple in the close proximity is another impressive creation. The deity Vishnu is residing in the form of Baraha and Baman. Devi Gajalakshmi and Durga are the other holy deities residing in the temple. Apart from the architectural grandeur, the temple lovers will be blissful to watch the spiritual deities and temples.

The monolithic pancha pandava chariot is carved on the hard rock of the hills. The wonderfully created chariot which resembles the stunning structure of Buddhist monastery depicts the prominent dravid architectural grace and style. Even though it’s evident from the name that the numbers of chariots are five but in fact the numbers of chariots are nine. Droupadi chariot, Arjuna chariot, Dharmaraj chariot, Bheema chariot and Sri Krishna chariot are the names of the other chariots.

Each of these chariots is marked with far apart architectural styles and grace. The remarkable Droupadi chariot resembles the structures of Homes of Bengal. Some people opine that the idol inside the chariot is of Droupadi where as others say the visage of the idol looks like that of the deity, Durga. Idols of lion, elephant and bull are there at the southern side of the chariot. A huge idol of lion, located in front of the idol of Droupadi, is protecting Droupadi and the temple. The decoration and architectures of the temple prove that a lot of thoughts were put behind the creation of the chariot.

Arjuna, another fine looking chariot, is built on the same platform of Droupadi chariot and resembles the structure of the Buddha Vihar. The idol of the deity, Indra, is engraved on the walls. An idol of Nandi is also there in the chariot.
The Bheema chariot, located at the southern corner, is a three storied monument. The chariot looks majestic for its architectural grandeur. 26 feet tall chariot is the largest of all.

Dharmaraj chariot almost looks like that of Arjuna chariot but is rectangular shaped (48*25 feet).  Nakul and Sahadev chariots, situated adjacent to the Arjuna chariot, depict Buddhist architectural flair.

Holiday makers can only enjoy the sight of one pagoda. Rest of the six pagodas has been claimed by the ocean. The five storied Shore temple, carved on the rocky hills, resembles the structure of ancient Dharmaraj chariot and depict the famous Dravid architectures. Woods and coals are the major materials which were used to form the temple. The base of the temple is built deep into the sea (20 feet). Boulders of granite stones are used to form a wall to protect the temple. This was the last temple which was formed in Pallavas dynasty.

The hexadecagonal shaped temple, located at the eastern tip of the pagoda, houses the deities Shiva, Vishnu and their families. Devi Durga is residing at the backend of the idol of Vishnu. Sculptures of lions, bulls and various Hindu deities are carved out of the hills. The architectural excellences of these idols are worth seeing. But lots of these astonishing creations are in ruins. The temple was invisible for many years as it was well covered by the sands. The temple was rediscovered in 1944-45. The temple looks magical at night. Shore temple has been included in the list of the world heritage sites.
10 cave temples, carved on the rocks, were built at that time. Two of which were incomplete. Krishna temple which is 8*8 meters wide and 6 meters tall is the most beautiful and largest temple. A number of mythological tales of lord Krishna are engraved on the walls of the Krishna temple.

Ganesha temple looks marvelous with its mesmerizing styles and poise. Ganesha temple, one of the magical chariot temples, has a rectangular shape and is carved out of a single stone. The chief deity of this finicky temple is Shiva but in absence of Shiva, the deity, Ganesha is worshipped.

Baraha Mandapam or the cave, located at the south-west side of the Ganesha temple, looks attractive and various mythological tales and sculptures are engraved on the walls of the cave. The sculpture of Vishnu is imprinted in the form of Baraha on the first panel of the temple. The deity is rescuing the world from the devil in this form of art. The deity, Lakshmi, is residing on the lotus on the second panel. The deities, Vishnu and Durga, are carved on the third and fourth panels of the temple respectively.

Interested and ardent tourists can also see three incomplete chariots which were carved out of one stone, located near to the Bakingham canal.

Temples of Mahabalipuram definitely deserve a visit but the prime and imperative enticement of Mahabalipuram is its sea beach. The untamed waves of the blue ocean are hitting and leaving their marks on the walls of the holy shore temple. The empire of fisher men is there at the northern side of the temple. Stroll on the lingering sea shore and enjoy the atmosphere.
Witness the magical sight of the majestic architectures on the stones at the Government College of Architecture and Sculpture and Museum. Gaze at the beautiful sea shore and don’t forget to see the light house. The old light house and the temple are situated adjacent to the sea beach of Mahabalipuram. Visit Mahishamardini temple and 9 caves on the way to the light house. The fascinating architectures on the walls of the temple and the caves will fulfill your emptiness. Besides the deities, Shiva, Parvati and Karthik, Vishnu is also residing on the lap of the snake in the temple. The powerful deity, Durga, looks eminent on the throne of the temple.

The Atomic power research centre, on the sea shore of Kalpakkam, is located at the southern side of Mahisasurmardini temple. Tiger’s cave or the open air theatre, about 4 km towards the north of the research centre, is mind blowing.
One month long classical dance festival shows various kinds of classical dance and music forms. Enthusiastic artists who come from faraway places participate in the festival. Viewers assemble in from different countries of the world.

The petite and secluded city, located in the serenity, has lot of things which can entertain tourists. Hotel, restaurants and shops are there for the holiday makers. Guides are available for the tourists who are interested in looking into the minute details of the city. You can amble around along with a guide of archeological department for free. The museum which recalls the old history of the wonderful spot, Mahabalipuram, is situated on the West Raja Street.

Buy some of the special handicraft items of Mahabalipuram. Artistic touches are prominent on various types of idols of different deities and miniature temples. Carvings on stones are really beautiful.

The tiger cave, about 5 km towards the north of Mahabalipuram, is located on the stunning sea beach. Cross the stairways to reach the temple of Devi Durga. Numerous entertaining festivals are almost a daily routine here in the adjoining places of Tiger cave. The holy Mukunda Nayar temple is located on the way to the tiger cave.

Crocodile Park, about 14 km away from tiger cave, showcases more than 5000 crocodiles of different species.
There is another fascinating beach nearby in Covelong village. Picnic lovers will enjoy the place. Catholic Church, mosque and ancient fort are the other coveted destinations. A number of lodges with normal facilities are available in Covelong village.
A boating complex in Muthukadu, about 22 km towards the southern side of Chennai, attracts many tourists.
The museum “dakshina chitra”, covering 9 acres of area, showcases assortments of arts and crafts. Interested holiday makers can watch and buy beautiful handicraft items. The place is renowned for its cultures and traditions. Take a thrilling boat ride on the neighboring Lake which is formed by the Back water. A boat house of TTDC is also there. The Children Amusement Park, covering a sprawling area of 27 acres, has a lot of items which will entertain and amuse children.
Tiruvanmiyur, about 8 km from the city of Chennai, is hidden in the darkness of coconut and fern trees. The tripurasundari temple, located at Tiruvanmiyur, is a striking temple for the temple lovers.

VGP Golden Beach/MGM Dizni World is another place where a lot of entertainment equipments are kept around the beach. The environment around the beach is fascinating. A lot of film directors and producers prefer this place for their films.
Tourists can stay at VGP Golden Beach Resorts.

Elliot beach, about 11 km towards the southern side of Adyar, is another impressive beach. The beach is connected to the city by bus.

Ennor is another nice beach. Enthusiasts should take the pleasure in boating.

Pundi reservoir, located at a distance of 60 km from Ennor beach, is supplying water to the city.

Pulicat, about 50 km towards the north-east side of Chennai, is popularly known for the ruins of the Dutch fort and an enthralling sea beach. Pulicat also has a Lake of salty water. The spectacular Lake covers 720 square km of area. Various native and migratory birds fly in to enjoy the vistas of Pulicat. The Island nestled in the Lake looks amazing. Enjoy a romantic boat ride and listen to the chirping of the wandering birds.

PWD Bungalow and Forest Rest House are there for the tourists who want to stay overnight.
Interested tourists should visit the space research centre at SriHariKota.

How to reach: Mahabalipuram can be accessed from Chennai by road. Buses from Mahabalipuram are also going to Pondicherry.

Where to stay: Hotel Tamilnadu, Golden Sun Hotel, Beach Resort and Jawaharlal Nehru Guest House.

Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.

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