Mahabalipuram

Location  : 58-Km From Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Called : Mamallapuram, The City Of Bali
Famous : Centre For Pallava Culture And Arts
Important Festival :  Celebrated Dance Festival In The Month Of December

A excavated town of ‘seven pagoda’
Located 58 km from Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Mahabalipuram is the ancient-most city of India dating back two thousand years.   In sixteenth century, a western visitor discovered a Shore Temple with sculptures on the margin of Bay of Bengal here eroded by waves and winds and named it “Seven Pagoda”.  Other relics buried in sand were discovered later.

Important festivals celebrated here is ‘Dance Festival’ in  December.

History of Mahabalipuram 
As per Srilanka’s national chronicle, Mahabalipuram was already a pilgrimage centre in the 7th century when king Mamalla of Pallav dynasty made it a seaport and rock temples here and named the city after him ‘Mamallapur’.  The construction of earliest monuments is historically attributed to Pallava king, Narasimha Varman I (630-668).  Thus it once thrived as a Pallav centre of art and culture.  A semi-circular groyne wall had been built to its east by Narasimha Varman II Rajasimha. Immediately to the north of the bigger hill there is the temple of Sthalasayana Perumal, much enlarged in Vijayanagar times. All the monuments are Pallava except that the original Sthalasayana Perumal temple was expanded in Vijayanagar times. During the Chola dynasty,  Mandapa(gateway with a pyramid-like structure) at the entrance to the township was added.

But it is popularly known as Mahabalipuram owing to the Hindu belief that the city was once ruled by Bali, the kind mentioned in epic Ramayana.   It was through Mahabalipuram that many Indians including sages and artists migrated to Southeast Asia.

The Sculptures
There are relics of some huge elephants which are the best of their kind in the whole range of Indian sculptures. There is, besides, the hypocritical cat which, pretending to perform penance, draws to it a number of unfortunate unsuspecting rats. Such a sculptural humour is uncommon in Indian art. There are sculptured   Lion, Tiger, Boar etc. There are sculptured rows of semi-divine beings effortlessly flying towards the fissure(supposedly containing water) . There is  an engaging composition of a monkey picking out lice from the head of another.

Monuments at Mahabalipuram
The British searched this spot in India in the 18th century. Today, it attracts a lot of foreigners in search of secluded place for relaxation and sea bathing surrounded by ruins of ancient historical monuments.

It contains the relics of around forty monuments of different types.  There are eleven excavated temples and two "open air bas reliefs", one of which is unfinished, and a third is an enclosed one. There is a temple called "Ratha" which is cut out of a big rock in one of the two low hills, 400m from the sea.  Out of the other smller hill about 200m above the south, five more rathas are cut out from rocks besides big sculptures of a Nandi, a Loin and an Elephant. On the top of another bigger hill there is a structure of temple and the remains of a structure believed to be a palace. 

In the relics of Shore temple which remained buried under the sand a few decades earlier, there are three shrines with the images of various gods cut out from the rocks and evidence of the residences of  Pallavas.  A fissure in the ruins indicates that there was a river in Pallava days and once water flowed down this cleavage from the hill behind where a water tank has been discovered.  Pallava citizens who lived there are believed to have migrated to Southeast Asia after the city was overwhelmed by the sea.

How to Get There
Air : Chennai (58-km) is the nearest airport with both domestic and international terminus. Chennai is connected with all the major places in India through the numerous domestic flights. International flights operate from various parts of the world to Chennai.
Rail : The nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu (29-km) and Chennai (58-km). From these stations one has to take road to reach the Mahabalipuram.
Road :Buses are available from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mahabalipuram daily. The road to Mahabalipuram is good. Tourists can also hire a taxi from Chennai. Create My Trip