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General Information about Mahabalipuram

Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, is a town on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s known for its temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. his was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled Kanchipuram. Formerly, mahabalipuram was known and called as Mahabalipuram. The former name of this place ‘Mahabalipuram’ has a history. A very rude cruel king Mahabali reined this place and in a fierce battle king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu and the place was named after the dead, arrogant king Mahabali. The seafront Shore Temple comprises 3 ornate granite shrines. Krishna’s Butter Ball is a massive boulder balanced on a small hill near the Ganesha Ratha stone temple. This is an elegant place to watch which a well established sea port was during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty.

The Group of monuments at Mahabalipuram is a collection of 7th and 8th century religious monuments in the coastal beach resort town of Mamallapuram and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The town was called the "Seven Pagodas" by European sailors who landed on this coast after they saw seven towers of Hindu temples.

The site has 40 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world, the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna's Penance. The site includes several categories of monuments: ratha temples with an architecture of monolith processional chariots built between 630 and 668 CE; the mandapa viharas also called cave temples with narratives from the Mahabharata, Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism with inscriptions in multiple Indian languages and scripts; rock reliefs particularly bas-reliefs; stone cut structural temples built between 695 and 722 CE; and, archaeological excavations some dated to 6th century and earlier.

The monuments were built during the Pallava Period.They were referred to as Seven Pagodas in many colonial era publications, are also called the Mamallapuram temples or Mahabalipuram temples in contemporary literature. The site was restored after 1960, and has been managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.


Distance : About 52 Kms from Chennai and takes about 1 hours 5 minutes to reach.


Places of Interest :
Arjuna's Penance, Crocodile Bank, Five Rathas, Krishna's Butter ball, Mahishasuramardini Mandapa, Open Air Musuem, Sculpture Musuem, Shore Temple, Tiger Cave, Varsha Cave temple.

Some important structures include:

a) Thirukadalmallai, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean.
b) Descent of the Ganges or Bagiratha's Penance – a giant open-air rock relief
c) Varaha Cave Temple – a small rock-cut temple dating back to the 7th century.
d) The Shore Temple – a structural temple along the Bay of Bengal with the entrance from the western side away from the sea. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here.
e) Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) – five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled – each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.
f) Light House, built in 1894.


Best time to visit :
The climate of Mahabalipuram remains hot and sultry throughout the year with a maximum temperature of 35°C and a minimum of 19°C. The best time to visit this place is during October to March. One is advised to avoid the monsoon period. Mahabalipuram Resorts are packed during the peack season, thus advance booking for Resorts Mahabalipuram is advised.


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. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.

An Ideal Itinerary :
Mahabalipuram can be covered within a day. Reach Mahabalipuram in the morning. Visit the Tiger Cave that is located at the entrance of Mahabalipuram. Visit the rock monument called "The Descent of the Ganges", also known as Arjuna's Penance. Visit the Varaha and Krishna Cave temples. After lunch, check out the various handicraft stores that sell beautiful stone artefacts. Then, Visit the Krishna's Butterball and the Pancha Rathas.The India Seashell Museum is also worth a visit. End the trip with a visit to the Shore Temple.

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