Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a laid back beach town, situated 60km south of Chennai. It was the major sea port of Pallava kings in 7th Century, who conducted a thriving maritime trade here with the Far East till 11th century. Mamallapuram is a marvelous open air museum displaying richness of the Pallava craftsmanship. The magnificent Shore Temple, although ravaged by the elements and the pounding ocean waves, still reflects the glorious past of these intrepid merchants. Best of them are The ‘Arjuna`s Penance’ - the immense Bas-relief that is sculpted from one rock. It is done in fascinating detail on a huge whale-back shaped rock depicting the story of the descent of the river Ganga to the earth. The ‘Five Rathas’ Symbolising equality of men & women, represent the five Pandava heroes of Mahabharatha. These rock carvings (Rathas) are the masterpieces of the Pallava temple architecture and sculpture and the famous Shore temple is the land mark of Mamallpuram.

Attractions in Mahabalipuram, around and from Mahabalipuram

  • Caves There are nine rock cut cave temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, contrasting the goddess fighting a demon on one side, and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one.

  • Five Rathas These rock-cut temples are rated as excellent example of Pallava art. Shaped in different styles, the five structures are named after the Pandava brothers of Mahabharatha and Draupadi. These are monol

  • Krishna Mandapam This cave has a big bas-relief, notable for its realistic representation. The panel relates one of the stories of Lord Krishna. Bas-Relief. The World's largest bas relief measuring 27m X 9m is the pri

  • The Shore Temple This is one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th Century AD and is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style.

  • Tiger's Cave It is 5 kms North of the main monument complex, and on the way to Chennai. It has an open-air theatre, where cultural programmes were held for the benefit of the royal family.