Mahabalipuram temple: history, beaches, cave & lighthouse

Mahabalipuram also called as “Mamallapuram” is situated almost 55 kms south to Chennai. It has been recognized as world heritage site by UNESCO for its monolithic rock carvings, sculptures and ancient temples.

How we Mahabalipuram?

There are regular buses from different stations in Chennai like CMBT, T.Nagar, Tambaram and local trains are also available.

The Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram:

Oh! the oldest beautiful monument standing beside sea over 1400 years so its called the shore temple symbolizing Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Nandi, Durga etc. who are carved on walls of the temple. A part of the temples got submerged in the sea over the period of time.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram shore temple
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram near chennai (12)

Next Point: Arjuna’s Penance

A monolithic rock carving telling the story of descent of Ganges on earth by the austerity performed by the great warrior Arjuna after the epic war of Mahabharata with
reliefs of saints, devotees,elephants, dears, mermaids, monkeys, lions, Cobra, ducks and kings etc.
Its hard to make any sense out of so many figures but its cool to see an open air museum.

Mahabalipuram rock carving

Vraha Mandapa:

A rock cut cave temple. Many of the temples are shallow caves carved right into the granite. Others are partially carved out of the rock with pillars, and huge slab roofs, or dry fit stone walls.
A person could wander for hours through this maze of sculptures, climbing around on steps carved into the steeper inclines. The whole area is open to the public with no restrictions. You can see where countless hands have touched this cow being milked, where people can sit on the calf and have their picture taken.

Mahabalipuram vraha cave

Next: Krishna’s Butterball

It is a giant natural rock perched on a hillside, seemingly in defiance of all laws of physics.

Mahabalipuram butter ball

The five Rathas (Chariots):

These chariots are again an example of monolithic rock cut architecture in granite. Though these architectures are unfinished.
Objectively, I was amazed by the sheer ambition, scale, sophistication and the engineering. Examples of the engineering are the perfect curvilinear surfaces that roof the Draupadi Ratha  and the 3-dimensional perspective vision in the Mahishasura mardhini and minor Elephant panel. Elephant and lion sculptures are also among one of them.

Mahabalipuram or five rathas
Mahabalipuram vraha cave

Cool beaches and small streets:

There are beaches on both sides of the Shore Temple and streets are not usually too crowded. Sun-rise in the morning is adorable with cool breezes.

You can go for sun rise in the morning and spend some leisure time on beach, boat rides with local fishermen, fishing, stroll to near by hillocks and turtle walk on beaches. You can also taste local dishes that people sell around the town and along the beach.

Rock carvings and sculptures are encountered widely along the streets. Now a days, metal works are also available there.
Coconut and other local drinks can also be enjoyed on the streets.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram beaches
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram near chennai (2)
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram near chennai (10)

Light House:

There is a century old light house which is still functional. By purchasing tickets, people and go inside to the top of the light house and take a look at the different views of the town.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram light house

Best time to Visit:

December to January (New year time). The town is less crowded and you can celebrate new year peacefully amid shore, sands and sun. Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is also celebrated around this time which last for four weeks. Different dance styles are shown each evening in front of Arjuna’s Penance. Its really  mesmerizing to see the spell-bound dances. Cottages are also available at the affordable rates.

Mahabalipuram dance festival
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram near chennai (1)

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