Mahabalipuram located around 60 km from Chennai is much known for famous Mahabalipuram Temple. Fascinating world of stone carvings and rock-cut temples that reside inside the historic town of Mahabalipuram is major tourist attraction. A well-known seaport since many centuries, the town acted as the experiment ground of Pallavas who would practice their artistic and architectural skills here. No wonder that Mahabalipuram is today known as the open museum and temple town of Tamil Nadu with well-preserved temples and structures.
Sthalasayana Perumal Temple : Also known as Thirukadalmallai, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It position as the very first structure near to the ocean shore confirms the legend that it was built to save valuable sculptures from corrosion by blocking the sea waves. Flaunting beautiful architecture, the temple is shrines dedicated to Lord SthalasayanaPerumal, Lord NilamangaiThayaarand Lord Narasimha.
The Shore Temple : One among the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Shore Temple is pyramidal in shape and has three shrines, two dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu. Built using granite blocks, the temple has exquisite carvings and a beautiful garden area around. A Lingam (iconic form of Lord Shiva) is worshipped inside one of the shrines. Waters from Bay of Bengal constantly wash the walls of the temple.
Arjuna’s Penance : A 96 feet long and 42 feet high open-air relief, Arjuna's Penance is a monolithic rock carving. Also known as Descent of the Ganges, the amazing monument is believed to depict the legend of how the holy River Ganga (Ganges) was brought from heaven to the earth by King Bhagirath. While others believe that it tells the story of how Arjuna (one of the five Pandavas) performed tough penance to receive a boon from Lord Shiva. Figures of Gods, divine humans and animals carved on the rock are unbelievably beautiful.
Mandapas, the Cave Sanctuaries : Showcasing the unmatchable rock-cut architecture, there are 11 cave sanctuaries covered with bas-relief and collectively known as Mandapas. Varaha Cave Temple dedicated to Varaha, one of the several avatars of Lord Vishnu. Mahishamardini Cave Temple is another among these sanctuaries dedicated to Goddess Durga.
The Five Rathas : PanchaRathas (chariots) is indeed the most enchanting structure consisting of five chariots that are amazing for the fact that each is carved from a monolithic rock. Dedicated to Pandavas (one to Yudhishitra, one to Bhima, one to Arjuna, one to Nakula-Sahadeva and last to Draupadi, Pandavas’ wife). Dravidian architecture exhibited by these pink granite monolithic structures is truly magnificent.
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival hosts vibrant celebration of the Indian classical dance forms like Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali. Eminent classical dancers from across the country perform at open-air stage in front of enthusiastic crowd. The above-mentioned rock sculptures act as the backdrop of the festival venue, adding worth to the overall ambiance.
Nearest airport : Chennai (about 60 km away)
Nearest railheads : Chengalpattu (about 29 km away) and Chennai (about 60 km)
By road : Connected to cities like Pondicherry, Chennai and Kanchipuram through well-maintained roads and efficient bus service.
Mahabalipuram is the best opportunity to witness how skilled the South Indian artists were. The heritage they left behind has been entertaining generation after generation.