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Temples in Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram: Heart of Indian Temple Sculpture

Mahabalipuram: Heart of Indian Temple Sculpture

Mahabalipuram is located in the Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu, and is lauded for being the first destination preferred by tourists and devotees on their trail of temples. Its fascinating temples embellished with exquisite architecture along with the serene beaches have been attracting thousands of tourists every year. This 7th century sea port is fondly also called as one of the kingdoms of Backpackistan, especially with a brilliant mixture of culture, cuisine and devotion. It figures in the top ten most travelled places by the tourists to India.

During the time of Pallavas, Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram was regarded as one of the most important port cities for South India. Thirumangai Alvar, one of the prominent saint of South India, described Mahabalipuram as the 'sea mountain.'. Currently, Mahabalipuram is known for its 3 stone temples, 9 monolithic shrines, 14 rock temples and beautiful beaches.

Following are the main attractions of Mahabalipuram

The Shore Temple: Built in 700 AD, the Shore Temple was constructed under the reign of Pallava king Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha. One can spot the intricate craftsmanship in the finesse and block by block establishment of their contours from pure rocks. Unfortunately, its outer boundaries have been eroded due to the close proximity with the Bay of Bengal. Three important shrines encompass the structural Shore temple, out of which two are dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu.

Arjuna's Penance: This 30 m long and 50 m high 7th century giant relief is lauded for being one of the best works of ancient art in India. This huge open air bas-relief monolith derives its name from Arjuna, one of the Pandavas in Mahabharata who carried out serious self mortification and penance to obtain Shiva's weapon. Other experts also believe that the carvings on the monolith denotes the descent of Ganga after years of penance done by King Bhagiratha.

MahishamardiniMahishamardini Mandapa: Also known as the Cave Temple, the Mahishamardini Mandapa is an eminent example of the Indian rock cut architecture. Along with the other caves, it is perched on the hill. The Mandapam reveals the scenes depicting stories form the 5th century puranas. The sculpture of Goddess Durga is acknowledged due to its finesse.

Pancha Rathas: It is the rock cut temple built by the Pallavas in the 7th century AD. These five rathas are named by the characters the five Pandavas of Mahabharata and these are Dharmaraja Ratha and Draupadi Ratha. The smallest amongst these caves in the Draupadi Ratha. These rathas are the best examples of the evolution in the artistic value of the Dravidian style of architecture.

Mahabalipuram Beach: It is one of the longest and cleanest beaches in India. Few ancient and rare monuments are also located at a close proximity with the beach. Tourists love spotting the crocodile farm where there are almost 5000 varieties of crocodiles belonging to six different species.

Shopping in Mahabalipuram: Tourists love to buy granite statues form Mahabalipuram which is known for being one of the best temple structure complexes in India. The granite sculptures of Mahabalipuram are famous in countries like Denmark, United Kingdom, Singapore and Germany.

MahabalipuramExcursions from Mahabalipuram: Tourists can travel to near by cities such as Chengalpattu (29 km), Chennai (50 km), Kanchipuram (67 km) and Cheyyar (97km).

When to Reach: The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is between October to March, as during this time the temperature is perfect for adventure activities and outing.

How to Reach:
Air: The Chennai Airport is approximately 59 km away from Mahabalipuram. Along with its own international aiport, domestic flights connect Chennai with other cities in India.
Rail: The nearest railway station to Mahabalipuram is located 29 km away at Chengalpattu.
Road: Frequent buses connect Mahabalipuram with near by cities such as Chengalpattu, Pondicherry, Chennai and Kanchipuram.

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