One of the oldest cities in India, Mahabalipuram is famous for its various stone carved monuments and ancient temples. Mahabalipuram Travel has always enticed travellers with its bag full of irresistible sun kissed beaches, World Heritage temples and grand historical edifices. This beautiful coastal town in Tamil Nadu is blessed with some stunning stone carved heritage sites which narrate exceptional stories about the town?s past which make it one of history's fascinating enigmas. Mahabalipuram remains a popular stopover for tourists coming from Chennai and Puducherry.
Tourist Attractions in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is known for its beautiful beach temples. While on visit here, one will find five rathas (chariots) are architectural vanguards of the south Indian. Among these the smallest chariot is the Draupadi ratha and the largest being Dharmaraja Ratham which is multi-storeyed and sculpted out of a monolithic rock. Other attractions here are Kailasanatha temple, Sri Varadaraja temple, Sri Vaikuntaperumal temple and many others. They stand as an example of the skill and effort of the artists of those times.
Varaha Cave Temple
The 7th century, Varaha Cave Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and highly admired for its Indian rock-cut cave architecture and Pallava Art. Inside, one will find beautifully moulded lion pillars, with reliefs of Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Durga and Lord Vishnu?s Varaha avatar.
A World Heritage Site, Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram is known for its unmatched beauty. It was built in the 7th century and counted among the oldest temples in South India. It flaunts a beautiful Dravidian style of architecture that was a gift from the Pallava dynasty. Shore Temple is a popular haunt for photography enthusiasts, who wish to capture this picture perfect masterpiece.
India Seashell Museum and Aquarium
Largest seashell museum in India, it treasures marine life with more than 40,000 kinds of rare and unique shells. Here, one will find a huge collection of fossils, whale fins and shark teeth. Nearby Maya Bazaar have shops where you can seashell products as well as pearls. Restaurants here serve delectable seafood.
A gigantic open-air sculpture carved on two big rocks, Arjuna?s Penance marks the spot where he worshipped Lord Shiva and received his celestial weapon. Here, one will find 43 feet high rocks with some of the greatest ancient artworks. The carvings here show Arjuna being gratified by the celestial weapon by Lord Shiva. On these rocks, one will find many other displays of Hindu mythology with animals and human figures.
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
Celebrated in the month of December/January every year, this is an occasion for the dance lovers to enjoy the performances of the artists from all parts of the country. The famous Shore Temple forms the backdrop of this festival and the music from instruments mix with the natural music of wind and the sea.
Excursions in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram has a number of interesting sites that are of tourist interest nearby.
About 5 km north of Mahabalipuram is Tiger Caves, a rock-cut shrine, possibly dating from 7th century.
Tirukkalikundram is a pilgrimage center that lies around 14 km from Mahabalipuram. It is a hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that is worth visiting.
An ideal place for water sports, Muttukadu is located 21 km from Mamallapuram. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has a boathouse here. Visitors can enjoy boating, canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing. The Dakshina Chitra of Madras Craft Foundation here has replica of an old agricultural house of Tamil Nadu, replica of Kanchipuram weaver?s house and replicas of ancient houses presenting the lifestyle of South India.
Shopping in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram offers excellent opportunities for shopping for carvings and stone sculptors. These carvings may be in soap stone or on wood. Jewelry and other items are also available. One can also buy decorative items made from seashells.
Best Time to Visit
November to February serve as the perfect time to visit Mahabalipuram, as the city has nice and pleasant weather. One can enjoy sightseeing and adventure activities during this time. June to September experiences hot weather and rainfalls making it difficult to travel and carry out tourist activities.
How to Reach Mahabalipuram
By Air: The nearest airport from Mahabalipuram is Chennai (Madras), which is located around 60 km away. One can get flights for almost all major destinations in India and abroad.
By Rail: The nearest railway station, on the other hand, is at Chengalpattu, which is around 29 km away. Trains for Chennai and several other major cities in South India are available from here.
By Road: Mamallapuram is well connected by road to Chennai, Tirukkalikundram (Pakshithirtham), Kanchipuram (65 km), and Pondicherry. State run as well as luxury buses are easily available alongith taxis and mini vans.
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