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About Mamallapuram Places to visit in Mahabalipuram Tamil Nadu

Mahabalipuram is an important place of classical Monuments in India, the monolithic and cave temples. It is also known as Mamallapuram. This place attracts large number of visitors from all over the world.  It is situated close to the sea and it is rich in artistic wealth also. These monuments afford scope for not only the study ancient architecture and sculpture in the Tamil country.  The rich portraits in stone of various deities, celestial beauties and epic stories are breathtakingly real. The shore temple, cave temples, the world’s largest is the pride of Mamallapuram India. It was once the flourishing port of the Pallavas an old lighthouse built of stone exists intact till date, proclaiming the glory of Pallava trade and maritime supremacy.  

It is also the birth place of one of the first three Alwars Boothathalwar.  Since Pallava kings were both Saivaites and Vaushnavaites. Mamallaburam has shrines of both beliefs.  Though no formal worship is done today, large number of visitors come every day to enjoy the sculpture and splendour of Pallava art architecture.  The monolithic and scooped out cave temples are of different dates.

The 7th and 8th centuries can be said to be the golden age of Embossed sculptures in Cave temples. Badami, Mamallai and Ellora Cave temples belong to this period. Giant Embossed sculptures can be found here. All of them are the origin of the events following the Puranas.

In the Mahishasuramarthini Mandapam, there are two contrasting images of Vishnu reclining gently and Durga fighting aggressively. In the Varaha Mandapam, the deities are placed in the center and given prominence, and various images are made to surround them. We can see amazing liveliness in these Cave temples.


Magabalipuram town lies on the Coromandel Coast which it faces the Bay of Bengal. It is an ancient sea-side town. This is an elegant place to watch which a well established sea port was during the 7th to 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty. This was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled Kanchipuram.

There is a story behind. The name Mamallpuram king Narasimha Varman I was a great and valiant warrior. He was given the title Mamalla which means ‘the great wrestler’ so the name was converted from Mahapalipuram to Mamallaburam considering the great king and his achievements. It was renamed Mahabalipuram which is called till now.

      The pallavas rose to the pioneer in south India, after the decline of the Gupta Dynasty. They ruled over from the 3rd century till the end of the 9th century A.D. The best period of their rule was between 650 and 750 AD and this period was called as the Golden Age of the pallavas. The pallavas were very powerful. They were profound thinkers.

 Mamalapurm city was during the rule of the pallavas, great poets, dramatists, artists, artisans, scholars and saints emerged. As one can say that the pallavas are the pioneers and forerunners of new styles both in art and architecture.

It is the best place to praise off their skill and talent. New sculptures and unique paintings were innovative and exuberant. This place itself became their exploring field and they made the best use of the resources. They game a shape and creative energy to what they imagined. It became a dream come true as it witnessed innovations in all styles.

 The richness in Mamalapuram was not known to many, as these pallavas did not outlet and expose their quality and innovative creations to the outer world for obvious reasons. The aestheticism of here was hidden until the late 18th century. What is special about Mahapalipuram? Of course every one can point out the rock - cut caves, temples made from a single rock, temples and strives of different structures, and bas-reliefs which are so artistic and sheer creativity. Mamalpuram is referred as an ‘open-air museum’. The great pallava kings Narasimha I and Rajasimha have well preserved these stylistic qualities that one enjoys this place even in the present day.

Sightseeing Places in English

        The beauty of the place is not only due to these architecture but the vast casuarinas trees, the silvery sandy beach the classical hand male crafts around have made them all to form what is a collective splendor. Any visitor who visits Mahabalipuram will remain startled and intoxicated with the grandeur. They feel hand hearted and more out from this historical and fascinating tourist spot in India.

About Mahabalipuram City Tamil Nadu India

It is a small sea side town in Chengalpattu District in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the best world Heritage site said by UNESCO in the 7th and 8th century.

Mahabali puram City ( 12°37'02''N;  80°11'39''E) is about 59km South of Chennai we can reach by East coast road Via Kovalam. It is a famous tourist destination in Tamil Nadu, South India. Private and Government tour operators can conducts trip to mahapallipuram. Regular bus services are available from Koyambedu Bus stand, Chennai. The ancient tradition of stone carving is still alive in mahapallipuram. We can here the rhythmic sounds of hammer and chisels event today. UNESCO has added these group of monuments in the World Heritage List.

Mamallapuram City was an  ancient port of the Pallavas, who have created many marvellous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, monolithic rathas and temples.  The port was constructed by Emperor Mahendra Varman in the 7th century.  The place is among the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture.

Once a thriving port trading with many distant nations, the sculptors have breathed life into stone at this place.  The Pallava art monumental splendour and man y beaches attract tourists from all over the world.

There is a huge rock tub said to be the bathing tub of Draupathi.  Above, on the rocky hill is a shrine of Vishnu without the deity. One can also see the old rock built lighthouse and the modern lighthouse side by side. It is a real feast to the eyes that could read an epic in lively sculpture.

Climate is tropical wet and dry.  During May month the temperature is about 39.1°C. It is the highest temperature. Lowest temperature is about 24.3 °C.

Sightseeing Places in Mahabaliburam Places to Visit

It has 40 ancient monuments and Hindu temples.  Arjuna’s Penance is one of the largest open-air rock relief in the world. This site has several types of monuments such as Ratha. It is made up of monolith processional chariots and Mandapa viharas. Archaeological Survey of India is managing this sites.

 The pallava art at this place emphasizes robust earthly beauty, imbibed with life.  The Pallavas have created many marvelous monuments, sculptural panels, caves monolithic rathas and sculptural panels’ caves, monolithic rathas and sculptural temples.  Mythological episodes, epic battles, demons, gods, animal are all vividly depicted on the wall.  Sculptures are breath taking real and artistic. This fantasy was created and architected by the great chirpy Devadapperunthachan.  These monumental splendors and the sunny beach in attracts tourists from all over the world. These are the well important places in Mahabaliburam Tourist Spot near by Chennai.

About Mahabalipuram Temples List

Shore Temple in Mamallapuram Chennai Tamil Nadu India

Shore temple is one of the oldest temples in Tamilnadu South India. Shore Temple of Mahapalipuram is enclosed by a row of bulls carved on a rock. The stately shrine set elegantly on the edge of the sea is a long survivor among the seven magnificent temples built over here.  The construction originally started around the middle of the 7th century and was later rebuilt during the reign of Narsimhavarma II, also known as Rajasimha.  It is one of the oldest temples in South India standing on the edge of the sea. This Koil represents the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style.  This icon of the soaring aesthetic aspiration of the Pallavas has been listed among the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO and is one of the most visited monuments in Tamil Nadu. Originally, there were seven such temples called as pagodas and only one has been spared. It has a vimana towering over 60 feet built in basaltic rock. A prismatic lingam is on the sanctum facing the sea and Vishnu is seen reclining on the ground (Stala sayana) in his chamber in the rear. The Shore Koil is in fact complexes of three exquisitely carved shrines and are approached through a paved forecourt flanked by weathered perimeter walls supporting striking sculptures of numerous 'Nandi' bulls. A Koil dedicated to Lord Vishnu is flanked by two Shiva Koil, one facing the east and the other facing the west.  Both the Shiva Koil are crowned by soaring spires, while the Vishnu Koil has none, as it may have crumbled with time.  The Vishnu temple was built by Narasimha Varma I or "Mamalla", while the Shivan Koil were later built by his son Narasimha Varman II. The monuments are flood it at night and so it is possible to enjoy this beauty after sunset too. It is said that there were seven such temples of which six have been weathered by the wind and sea or submerged in the sea. Shore Temple is one of the important places to visit in Mahabaliburam.

Arjuna Penance

Arjuna Penance is the splendor of Mamalapuram Town. It is a huge rock in the canvas unfolding a scene of gods and demigods, birds, beasts and natural scenery.  Some are of the opinion that it is in fact Bagirath's  penace to bring the celestial Ganges to the earth. A natural cleft in rock has been cleverly carved into the turbulent river Ganges with serpent gods worshipping like devotees along the banks frozen in their prayer a superb poetry in sculpture which no visitor should miss.This a complicated magnificent piece of skilfully carved work, the largest bas-relief sculptures in the world.  Arjuna, the epic hero of Mahabharata, is depicted here as sage doing penance in order to obtain the divine weapons from Lord Shiva. All the carvings are made out of a huge boulder. There is a natural cleft in the centre of the huge rock which is conceived as the sacred river Ganga descending to earth.  Various divine figures have been carved on all the sides.  This piece of work is a masterpiece of creation in expression, particularly the figures relating to the popular Panchatanthra stories. Bhagiratha Penance is one of the largest and the finest bas-relief measuring 29m*7m, sculpted on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks. The panel is divided by a natural crack between the two rocks. The panel is divided by a natural crack between the two rocks. Originally the water fed from a collecting camber above, flowed down the fissure. A figure of bearded sage with floating ribs, standing on his left foot, deeply absorbed in performing penance is believed to be Bhagiratha praying for the Ganga to descend to earth from the Himalayas. The carvings depict realistic life size images of birds, animals, deities and other divine figures watching the flow of the Ganga. Some others relate this bas-relief to Arjuna's penance, petitioning Lord Shiva for the divine weapon, Pashupatha.  The figure of animals particularly, the two large elephants and scenes from the fables in the Panchatantra are remarkable and unpretentious. The richness in the iconographic content of carvings makes this unique. Arjuna Penance is one of the beautiful places to visit.

Krishna Temple or Krishna Mandapam in Mamalapuram

There is a sculpture on the rock face of one wall Lord Krishna as the protector of all living beings, presenting man, bird and beast. A stunningly beautiful bas-relief showing Krishna lifting the Govardhana mountain in order to protect the cows and the cowherds from the wrth of Indra, the god of rain, is the highlight of this cave temple.  Krishna Mandapam epitomizes real bliss and presents activities that have changed little with time.

Cave Temples

Mamallaburam has more than ten cave temples. They are in different stages of completion. Kodikal Mandapam is very simple and Adivaraha Mandapam reaches the end of sculptural excellence. Most of the cave temples in Mamallaburam are carved in the large one in south north direction. Two cave temples can also be found at Chaluvakuppa, which is little further away. The rock-cut cave tradition is represented by more than thirteen caves, was first initiated here by Mahendravarma – I.  They are known for their simplicity in plan and decoration.  Notable on among the cave temples are Konerimandapa, Tirumurthi cave and Krishnamandapa.

About 4km away is the cave temple complex of Aluvan Kuppam. The Tiger Cave is an excavated cave shrine with aureole of Lion heads.  It was an open theatre where cultural programmes were held in the past.

Mahishasuramardini Cave

The Mahishasuramardhini Cave is carved into three shrines bass relief of Somaskanda in the rear, Anantasayana Vishnu canopied by Shesha, reclining on the serpent bed. Mahishasuramardhini is struck in bold relief in such an awe-inspiring way with the thrill of the beholder in the battlefield. This is another excellent bas-relief depicting Lord Vishnu sleeping on the coils of serpent king Adisesha and goddess Durga fighting with demon king Mahishasura. It is particularly remarkable scooped cave. Mahishasuramardini Cave temple is one of the important cave temple in Mahapalipuram.

The three-chambered temple houses two unique sculptural blocks. Atop the hill is the now damaged Uzaku Oil Ishwarar temple, nostalgically conveying its ancient state.

Pillars with well-carved lion plinths give it a unique charm. A mandapam is erected in front of the middle sanctum sanctorum. All three rooms with gate guards. A bit confusing are the Dwarapalakas, a vegetarian motif in the south and central rooms.

The relief sculpture of Somaskandar on the wall of the central chamber and carved in such a large form is not commonly found elsewhere in Pallavar temples. It is a special thing that Lord Shiva sitting in Sukasana with Vatsalya and his Son Kandan! Kandan is shown very happy. Brahma and Vishnu are seen gathered behind the family of deities. Nandi under the feet is the pedestal for the deity couple. A devotee can also be seen. Apart from this cave, in no other Pallava Somakanda image, Nandi and devotees can be seen.

Mahishasuramarthini Sculpture

A bas-relief sculpture on the right wall of the Artha Mandapam shows Durga performing the Sura samharam to Mahishasura.

Defeated by Mahishasura, the Devas appealed first to Brahman, then to Vishnu, and finally to Shiva. But all of them said that they could not defeat Mahisasura because of his boon. But their combined strength created a goddess that no one could defeat.

Shiva's trident, Vishnu's wheel, Varuna's conch, Indra's bow and arrows became weapons for the eight arms of Durga. Legend has it that Durga, youthful in appearance and carrying all the weapons in his hands, mounted on a lion vehicle and defeated Mahishasura in battle with his wings.

Here we see only seven of the eight weapons mentioned in the Purana, the bows poised and ready; in other hands, we find conch, rope, bell, wheel, etc. Ambarat pillar is seen with arrows on the left Sholder. When an arrow is shot, they are doing their assigned task for eight moments. Their movement is visible in the sculpture. For a moment, one of them holds the umbrella that signifies his divinity. Another moment the Samaram blows. A female figure is seen in other moments of bearing.

The still undefeated Mahishasura is seen. But it is well understood that this is the end of the war. Because the asuras fleeing from there is a reality in the sculpture. The sculptor has made clear to us their fear-filled outlook and the momentary joyous effort to move forward. The hostility on the face is evident as he happily presses his leg firmly on the ground with the weapon in hand. The angle from which the monster stands on that he is poised and poised to move the story along gracefully. But the commotion seen in the crowd of Asuras, the moments of joy, the confidence, speed and fearlessness on the face of the Goddess clearly and vividly show the state of war at that time. Mahishasura's buffalo head and human body are exquisitely carved by the sculptor, a highlight!

In this sculpture, a Taniyamsam, its balance, Satapati has shown the fullness of his thinking power in the sculpture.


On the southern wall, Ananda Sayana Vishnu can be seen dancing on a mantle. This story is told in the Markandeya Purana.

After giving Brahma the task of creation, Vishnu falls into a deep sleep on a blanket in the ocean of milk. Two Asuras appear in his ears and seek to grant Brahma's creative work. Threatened, Brahma applies to Lakshmi. Awakened by Lakshmi, Vishnu destroys the demons.

The two-armed Lord Vishnu reclines on the bed of the five-headed serpent named Adisashan. The right arm is extended and the left is folded. The left hand is in a crab seal. The head and chest are slightly raised. Left knee is slightly bent, other limbs are straight.

Under the feet of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Bhudevi appears with outstretched arms. Conch, wheel, sword and shield are seen as weapon men, two below and two above.

Near the feet two ghosts named Madhu and Kaidapan can be seen plotting something. The one on the right plans to attack. The back of one hand is close to the back of the other. This system is alive.

This block and the one opposite it are very fine in sculptural detail. Art experts. They have written in awe of the beautiful thinking power and artistic beauty of the sculptor in this sculpture block. The image of Vishnu in yogic slumber as though he is asleep but still awake is incomparable. His calmness and the menacing demeanor of the Asuras are contrasted with each other and suggest an ongoing drama. While some of the characters are seen with movement, Vishnu's motionless position in a horizontal position suggests the elegance of the sculpture and the mastery of the sculptor.

Varaha Cave Temple

Varaha Cave Temple is a small rock cut mandapam featuring four panels of fine looking door keepers and four interesting bas-reliefs. Lord Vishnu is shown in this Cave Koil in the incarnation of Varaha (boar) and the Vamana as a dwarf.  This is an exquisitely caved bas-relief. Varaha Cave illustrates the legend of rescuing the earth Boodevi by Vishnu incarnated as a boar.

The Tiger Cave

 Tiger cave is about 4km north of the main monument complex. There is a beautiful monolithic stage where cultural programmes were held during the Pallava period. Though very near the sea this place is serene and calm.

This can be considered as one of Adhyanda Kaman's innumerable artistic upheavals! Its unique character, unlike any other temple, arouses curiosity as to what the purpose of its construction might have been.

The facade of this structure which is a stadium has the heads of 11 yalis in a semi-oblong circular shape. All heads seem to be looking towards the stage of the arena. All of them are designed in the best possible way, with one yazhi like no other. On either side of the arena, guards watch over the flowing tigers.

There are some unfinished sculptures on the southern side of the rock. Deities can be seen in Ambaris on elephants with curled trunks and large ears. What these image systems are trying to explain is also a puzzle. Similarly on the northern side of the rock we find a huge lion standing in the initial position and a crescent on its belly. It seems that they tried to create an image similar to the lion temple in the complex of beach temples.


Mamallapuram mind cover images are the chariots there! Carved out of a single stone, these can be considered as one of the wonders of the world. These are replicas of temples built of stone.

Buildings of this type were first created by the Pallavas. Why, many people do not practice this method anywhere but Mamallapuram remains a mystery! Mamallapuram stands out in this respect as well.

There are nine such temples here. Among these are five important ones known as Panchapandavar Rathas. Apart from these there is a Ganesa Rath. A little further, there are three more chariots. Two of these are called Pitari Rathams and one is called Valyankuttai Ratham.

Apart from these some Raths are stopped soon after starting. Some of the puzzles that have been started in many areas and stopped without continuing.

Pallavars have shown their talent in unique works. Each is unique in settings; The Dharmaraj chariot is square in shape; Bhimarat has an oblong square shape; the chariot of Sahadeva is oblong in shape. There are also changes in the structures. In some, the number is angular peak like the Dharmaraja chariot; peak like cart nest in Bhimarat; A hut roof-like ridge on the Draupadi ratha.

Unlike structural building systems, these are carved from a single stone. It should be started from the top so that there is no mistake from the beginning when carving! Even a small mistake, for example in one of the sculptures in the nests, can ruin the whole work! Besides, the sculptors who worked in different positions - standing, sitting or lying down - must have put in a lot of hard work! Due to this, in many places, the sculptures seem to have unfinished parts.

There rock-cut temples, named after the five Pandava brothers and Draupadi are the excellent examples of the Pallava art.  All the five monuments are called Rathas as they are full sized models and look like the chariots of the Koil.  However, they recall the earlier architecture of the Buddhist chapels and monasteries. In addition, the Ganesha Ratha in the north side is also a beautiful piece of art. The architecture resembles Dravidian temples with their imposing towers and multi-pillared halls and sculptured walls.

Ganesh Ratha

Ganesh Ratha is cut out of a single rock, the shrine resembles a chariot. The oblong monolithic structure is the only Rath which has been completed. Thought this temple was a Shiva temple earlier, not it is dedicated to Lord Ganesh.

Tirumurthi Temple

Tirumurthi Temple has three shrine to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Pillar of this temple are ornamented with multifaceted figures and the facade with a standing in Mahishasura mardini (Goddess Durga).

Pandava Rathas or (Punh) Five Rathas Or Monolithic Temple Or Panchapandavar Raths

Mamallapuram is home to five Ratha temples of the Panchapandavar ragas carved into two series of hills running north and south. Seeing these chariots is an unforgettable experience. When seen. Although these types are arranged as if they are scattered in an irregular manner, they create confusion in the mind of the beholder. Something must have been done with a plan. We see them as immortal epics, carved in many different ways and placed in completely different settings. The various ratha formations here are basically huge stone sculptures carved into the hills, but are precursors to the architecture of the later temples, helping us to understand their history correctly.

A set of five monolithic rock temple are located in the sandy compound.  It is consider as an architectural prototype evolution of Dravidian temple architecture. Five Rathas are also known as Pancha pandava Rathas. Pandava Raths or Monolithic Shrines are five in number out of which four are carved, out of a single rock, while the fifth is scooped from a small rock. The hut-like Draupadi Rath sports door-keepers, Durga with a worshipper cutting and offering is neck, and the outer walls of Arjuna's rath have most lovely and graceful figures of gods and mortals carved by a skilful sculptor.  Nakula-Sahadeva rath stands with a huge Monolithic elephant in front.  Bhima's rath has two storeys and lion-based pillars.  Dharmaraja's rath is the biggest and has 8 panels of exquisite sculptures. They are richly carved with art motifs and wall panels depicting many Hindu divinities and royal portraits.

Dharmaraja Chariot

From the inscription in this temple we know its name is 'Adhyanda Kama Pallavesvara Krigam'. This Shiva temple is a great testament to the sculptural skill of the Pallavar Satapati. A feast for the eyes in height and beauty.

The three-storied temple was originally built with a sanctum on each floor. They have tended to build a sanctum sanctorum in the middle of the lower floor and a circle around it. But the work did not come to an end. The sanctum sanctorum with Somaskandar as the source is completed on the upper floor. The steps from the bottom to the second floor are not finished. From the second floor to the third floor there is a step in the eastern direction.

This unfinished art form has some unique features.

There are many relief sculptures of Shiva and Vishnu on all three floors. The sculptures here can be considered as some of the finest sculptures in Tamil Nadu. These are examples of the later temple sculptures of Tamil Nadu.

Only this one chariot has inscriptions. But there is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to who is the Athyantaka Kaman mentioned here.

While the lower level is square in structure, the peak and the neck that supports it are angular in shape. At the ground level there is an Artha mandapam and pillars with lion bases. Both sides have relief carvings on the crescents.

Floor sculptures

There are seven deities like Hariharan, Arthanari etc. in total eight sculptures on each corner on four sides. The eighth figure may be that of Narasimha Pallava. A similarity can be seen in these relief sculptures. All these are neutral. Samapada is like a sanctum sanctorum set up for prayer. The right hand is placed in the abhayamutra and the left hand is placed on the hip.

Bhima Ratham

Bhima Ratham is the temple next to Dharma Raja Ratham is a big and majestic in form. Its upper structure is like a cage cart, so the structure of this temple is called 'road form'. The temple has two floors but there is no way to go to the upper floor.

The base consists of four pillars and two half-pillars flanking seated lions. After that they have decided to set up a sanctum sanctorum. The path around the sanctum was started and not completed. The work, which has been completed in various stages, has stopped halfway. The unfinished condition may be due to a natural crack in the middle of the rock. There are no sculptures or inscriptions on the lower floor of this temple.

As it is in oblong square structure, it can be assumed that this temple must have belonged to Pallikonda Perumal.

The cage-like top structure is curved. The round neck below it has five windows. These are called Nasika (noses). These are supported by half pillars. In some crescents, royal figures are seen on the bust.

These are carved along the existing wooden structure. The makaras on both sides are beautifully depicted with flower arrangements coming out of their mouths. Delicate bearings are at the four corners. In the middle, there is a copy of the temple figure with a square base, carved in relief. Similar structures, with slightly different bases, can be seen in the Sahadeva Ratha and Ganesha Ratha. A Shiva temple in a similar setting is found near the beach temple, next to the Varaha image.

Arjuna's Ratham

The Arjuna Ratham is a magnificent temple with an octagonal peak and two floors, next to the Bhima Ratham. Looks like the Dharmaraja Chariot but smaller in size. There is no way to go to the upper floor. This and the adjacent Draupadi Ratham are carved on a single pedestal supported by elephants. There is an arthamandapam in front of the sanctum facing west. There is no sculpture inside.

On the exterior of all the three walls the magnificent sculptures are very well carved like Dharmaraj Ratta. But unlike the Dharmaraja Rath, the sculptures are slightly different. Not everyone will be impressed.

Deities can be seen in the crescents in the middle. Other crescents often contain royal figures. Next are the idols of Dwara Balagar.

Draupadi's Ratham

The smallest of the rathas, this temple carved in the shape of a small hut with exquisite elegance is designed for worshipers. The image of the goddess carved in the sanctum is a special feature of the temple. The Pallavas are very devoted to Durga. At many places in Mamallapuram, the form of Durgai was created by the Pallavas.

Arjuna's Rath and Draupadi's Ratham are on the same pedestal. The sides of the plinth are carved with lions and elephants standing in succession. A vimana is carved like a simple hut on top of the square shaped sanctum sanctorum. Beautiful flag work is seen at its ends.

The gate door and adjacent crescents are decorated with beautiful makara toranas. In addition to these, designs of flowerpots under the roof eaves. Delicate slats guard the gate. Though similar in appearance, there are subtle differences between them.

On the back wall of the sanctum there is a sculpture of Koravai. The goddess is depicted standing on a lotus flower with four hands. Both the upper and lower limbs are seen with moments. One arm of the goddess is mutilated. In the other hand she carries a wheel. One of the lower two arms is Abayam sign. The other hand on his thigh. We see a scene where one is in a state of consecration with a flower, while the other decapitates with a sword. We have seen the same scene in Varaha Mandapam.

On the crescents on the three outer walls, relief sculptures of the goddess can be seen in different stages of completion. Above each of these are makara toranas.

Sahadeva Ratham

The wonderful vision of the Pallavas to try all kinds of systems is seen here. In shape it resembles the back of an elephant and is called Gajaprashtam (rest) or Saba (initiated bow). The temple has the same shape from the base to the top.

This rock must have been separate from the other rocks. The three tiered temple is facing south because of the natural position of the rock. The upper structures resemble the chariots of Dharmaraja, Bhima and Arjuna. Its decorative arches and arches on the south side resemble the sides of Bhima's chariot. A small sanctum is found. There is no source god or gatekeeper in the sanctum sanctorum. Therefore it is not known for which deity this temple was built.

A large elephant image is carved near this temple. Patience can be found in the design of the elephant and the sleeper. Perhaps this elephant sculpture was placed here to show the importance of the iconography?

Mahabali puram Mandapams

Early temples were simple. The only sculptures in them were those of Dwarapalaka. The pillars in them are not much carved and thick. The central part of the pillar is octagonal and square above and below it. These are known as 'Mahendran Pillars'. It can be seen that the beams are carved to support the deck. Dharmaraja Mandapatu can thus be considered as one of the earliest temples.

As time goes by, you can see that the pillars are beautified. The thick square pillars of Mahendran's time became cylindrical over time. A plinth below, a cylindrical design above, and a decorated shaft are in circulation. A good example of this is the back pillars of Koneri Hall. Next, we see pillars with a seated lion as their base. This can be seen in Varaha Mandapam.

You can see the constant change of the facade, which is not even leveled in the early structure, Dharmaraja Mandapam. These are later beautified and seen with decorative structures like Thirumurthy Mandapam. Also, on the inner walls, relief sculptures are placed. These are based on mythological stories.

In the beginning the image of moolavar God is projected on the wall of the sanctum sanctorum. There may also have been figures carved in wood. As the paintings and wooden figures have disappeared with time. Now we see blank walls. But only in Thirumurthy Mandapam and Draupadi Mandapam, the image of God is carved in relief on the sanctum wall itself. The ovaries are normally guarded by burrowers. If the goddess of the womb is female, the guardians are also female.

Shallow halls resembling porticoes in various parts of the area, some of them left in an unfinished condition.  These are remarkable for their sculpture combined with simple architectural treatment. 

Kodikal Mandapam

A simple temple with a single room, it was built for Durga. Two female Dwarapalakas guard the empty womb. Both have a slim and attractive figure. They are almost identical when standing in the same position, but some changes can be seen. A woman rests her hand on a stick. Another is holding a bow. They wear a girdle on the chest and a girdle on the waist. A skirt-like bandage can also be found. They are also decorated with braided crowns.

Koneri Hall

The temple may have acquired this name in recent times as it is located in front of a clan known today as Koneri Pallam. Apart from that, it is the only five-and-a-half temple in Mamallapuram Tamil Nadu. It is a guess as to which deities may have been in its sanctums! This mandapam is like the Pallavars are teasing us and having fun. Because its front pillars are square in cross-section. But the second row also has decorated circular pillars. Two models in the same temple! So where does the method of calculating time by keeping the pillars fail!

All the five sanctums are individually guarded by two Dwarapalakas. Here too the Dvarapalagar figures, though similar in general structure, differ in minute details. They have plaited crowns, two horns, and thick miters with Siva canons. One Dvara Balagar figure on the left side is completely defaced and the other is partially defaced.

Dharmaraja Mandapam

Judging from the thick square pillars and the unadorned figures in the Dharmaraja Hall, it appears to be one of the earliest temples. We find the Pallava stamp on the Dwara Palakaras here. It is distressing that both of these were later completely destroyed.

A beautifully written Sanskrit inscription in Granthic script on the south wall reads, 'Atyantakaman, known as Ranajaya, who defeated his enemies and conquered his enemies' places, built this temple for Lord Shiva'. From this it is clear that it was built by a person with the name 'Adyantagaman'. Similarly inscriptions with the same text are found at two other places.

Adivarga Mandapam

Adivaraga Mandapam is situated to the south-west of the Mahishasuramarthini cave. Worship is still going on in this temple. In front of this hall, there is a later tiled hall. The gate is locked except during worship hours. There are very few fully-enclosed cave temples in Mamallapuram; this temple is one of them. The temple is unique in its sculptural design. Some beautiful sculptures are carved here. Here you can see some of the images developed from the sculptures of the Varaha Mandapam. There are also sculptures of two royal families.

An enigmatic inscription adds to the significance of this temple. But the mandapam, which we have mentioned above, which was built later, somewhat diminishes the beauty of this temple. The limestone image now worshiped in the sanctum sanctorum was added at a later date. Similarly, a later inscription refers to this temple as Paramesvara Vishnu Graha. So it is clear that the temple was founded by a king named Parameswaran. Facade, lion pillars, sculptures on the inner walls are similar to Varaha Mandapam.

Pallava King and Queens

On the north wall of Adivara Mandapath, the block of sculpture that we see belongs to the Pallava king. With the inscription 'Sri Simma Vishnu Bodharajati Raja' above, it can be assumed that this is Simma Vishnu Pallavan.

The king sits on a high throne. Since the right hand of the king, seated on the throne in Sukasana posture with a Chin Muthiri on the broad chest, he can be assumed to have attained spiritual enlightenment. The left hand is placed on the thigh. A crown adorns the head. Apart from earrings and a garland around the neck, the sculpture bears no royal ornaments.

The king is seated in a royally balanced position. But queens look alive. Both wore thin clothes but they were not identical. They wear Pathira kundalas and Karanda crown. The queen on the left wears a chain around her neck, while the other queen does not even have it. Both are shown with a tone of reverence.

Pallava King and Queen (another sculpture)

Even in this sculpture on the back wall, the standing king is not wearing much jewellery. The figure shows movement with the underskirt and pleats. The king's two queens stand to the left. The appearance of the king, holding his goddess in his left hand and pointing to the temple with his right hand, and the beauty of his attire, highlight his status as an incomparable emperor.

The queens are dressed as in the previous sculpture, wearing a kadibandham, garland, a large Patira kundalam in one ear and a makara kundalam in the other. As 'Sri Mahendra Potrati Rajan' is written on the top of this sculpture, it can be assumed that the king in it is Mahendra Pallavan.

All three are seen with normal movements. Joy and devotion are seen on the king's face. It is also seen that the queens are happily facing the divine vision.

Shiva as Gangadhara

First seen on the north wall is Shiva as Gangadharana with Ganga War braid. The right hand is in the abhaya mudra, the left hand rests on the thigh, the back hand holds a rudraksha garland and the other grasps a wind of hair ready to single out the speed of the descending Ganges. Ganges in a female figure descends from the sky in anjali mudra. Wearing a living Nath on his waist, Shiva wears a cloth poonula on which the Vastra Yanjopaveedam is draped.

The image of Lord Shiva standing with a smile and majesty is the unique beauty of this sculpture.


A four-armed figure of Vishnu with royal majesty is found on the east wall. Standing on a lotus, the back two hands of this figure hold conch wheels, the front right hand rests on the abhaya mudra and the left hand rests on the hip. One of the devotees kneeling and bowing seems to be Adhisation by the image of a snake on his head.

Adisesha's figure is beautifully engraved on the crescent next to it. Despite the narrow space, these figures have been beautifully carved!


On the lower wall next to it, we see the image of Kotravai. The appearance of the goddess is different from the one in the Varaha Mandapam. Durga, who is charming with eight hands, is seen in his right hands holding Azhi, knife, mani and kapalam. Conch, shield, bow and parrot are seen in the left hands. The design of Durga standing on the severed head of Mahishasura is different from the one usually shown. Due to the high position of the neck, the grace of the goddess is more visible. On the left hand of the natural fold, a parrot sits with its intense attention on something. The goddess is beautifully depicted standing wearing a braid, a crown, patira kundalams, a breastplate, a vaikakansha shaped like a poonool and other ornaments. Following the canons, lion and deer faces are in the background. Both of these have been prominent in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam period as symbols of Koratavai. On either side of the feet are two warriors worshiping the Goddess of Victory. Beyond them are Guard women dressed like the goddess. The woman on the right side of the goddess holds a sword in her hand and a shield in her left hand, and a long bow in her left hand. There are moments on both sides of the above. Below are devotees kneeling and praying.

Varaha Mandapam

It is a temple dedicated to Vara Murthy, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. During this period, Vishnu's avatars Varaha and Narasimha were the only deities worshipped. The mandapam is a feast for the eyes with a beautiful lion plinth, two pillars with decorative designs and two semi-pillars embedded in the wall. The elaborate facade on top of it is also a delight for art lovers. Above the pillars are elements in the dome. Carved in the shape of a lotus, small temples with road roofs are designed. They are connected by corridors called Harandhara.

On the inner walls of the mandapam there are two large scenes of Varah who saved Bhudevi and Trivikram who subdued Mahabali. Apart from these, relief sculptures of Gajalakshmi and Durga have also been created.

Thirumurthy Mandapam

Its majesty, distilled into a poem, declares it superior to the other cave temples of Mamallapuram Tamil Nadu. There is no hall-like structure in front of the sanctum sanctorum. All three chambers are lined up. First, there is an image of Subramanian in the north sanctum, an image of Shiva in the middle room and an image of Thirumal in the third room. But the sculpture of Durga carved on a dome in Tenkodi stands above all others in beauty and sculpture.

The collection of Kudaivara temple, all the chariots and beach temples can be said to be the masterpiece of Mamallaburam sculpture. Its structure resembles that of the Pancha Pandava chariots. This temple is the only one that is mostly complete.

In this effort the sculptor can be seen to have carved the sanctums straight into the wall, avoiding the front halls in other cave temples.

A room for each of the three Thirumurthys; Additionally, a separate attic for Durga. Murugan replaces Brahma in Pallavan Adyanta Kaman's new venture! And surprisingly, his ordeal is not over. Direct relief sculptures for worship in sanctum sanctorums. Further above the façade is the kapodum, nesting decorations. Combined with all these, the majestic appearance of the temple is ecstatic. A room for each of the three Thirumurthys; Additionally, a separate attic for Durga. Murugan replaces Brahma in Pallavan Adyanta Kaman's new venture! And surprisingly, his ordeal is not over. Direct relief sculptures for worship in sanctum sanctorum. Further above the facade is the kapodum, nesting decorations. Combined with all these, the majestic appearance of the temple is ecstatic.

All the sculptures are designed in the same way, with the right hand giving the Abhayam seal and the left hand resting on the hip, conforming to canonical norms. Liveliness becomes clear to us through the seated devotees. It is the deva moments in the Vishnu room that defy the rules.

Ramanuja Mandapam

Ramanuja Mandapam is divided into three chambers with Lord Shiva as the main deity. The beautiful figure of Someskandan has been sculpted here. Similarly, there are signs that there were sculptures belonging to the Pallavas in this hall. All these were destroyed after a few centuries. Had these not been destroyed, this cave temple would have been one of the best temples in Mamallapuram Tamil Nadu. The few surviving sculptural details suggest this. Later sculptors thought that they could build further, as is evident from the facade.

Parts of the front look are fine. There are models of two deeply carved square-shaped temples here. A special feature of these temples is that they are completely finished from the bottom to the top. Similar temples are also found in the Arjuna Dhava sculpture block. The rows of pillars with lion plinths shine with extreme beauty.

A beautiful inscription written in the Pallava Granth script is also found here. Here are the same curse lines as found in the Adivara Mandapam: 'Those who do not have the contemplative mind of Rudra (Shiva) who has the power to save from evil ways will be cursed six times.'

Athiransanda Mandapam

Chaluvakuppam on the coastal road from Mamallapuram to Chennai has two caves. One is called Pulikukai. Another is the cave temple called Athiransanda Mandapam, which has a mixture of early and later features. Apart from this, there are two important inscriptions in this hall. There is also a small but beautiful open air relief sculpture. The Sivalingam placed inside and the Nandi outside are of later date.

The thick, simple pillars here, without much carvings, belong to the early Pallava period, while the beautiful Somaskanda figures on the other side belong to the slightly later Pallava period. Artifacts from two different periods in one place?

Two bas-relief sculptures of Somaskandar are found in the Arthamandapam of this temple. This is not the case in any other multi-period temples.

On the side wall of the temple two inscriptions in attractive style are worth seeing. Pallava Granth on one side and Devanagari on the other. It can be considered as the oldest Devanagari script in the South. Despite the two types of alphabets, the pronunciation of Sanskrit verbs in both is almost the same.

From these inscriptions, it seems that Adityantagaman built this temple for Lord Shiva. Similarly, the presence of inscriptions with almost the same meaning in two more Mamallapuram temples is a great mystery.

Mahishasuramarthini Open Air Relief Sculpture

In front of the cave temple, a small natural rock on the south side depicts the battle of Devi with Mahishasura. It can be considered that this is a series of smaller than the sculpture in the magnificent Mahishasura Mardhini Mandapam of Mammallapuram. But it differs in morphology. It is less of an alternative than the former in structure and beauty.

The specialty of this is its liveliness, we see Durgai getting down from the lion vehicle ready to chase away the monster, and the monster is running away on its back. The goddess rests her right leg on a lotus flower, her left leg on a lion, and fights with a bow. She is depicted with six arms. A sign of victory is visible on his face. Behind her, moments explain the battle column. The sculpture is a magnificent sight. Moments of joy, fleeing monster soldiers, fear-weariness evident on their faces; all these destroy the vitality that is vital to the sculpture.

The sculptor has created the goddess as a radiant beauty. Slender body, slender crescent-shaped crown, pods; she is seen wearing a pearl garland around her neck. The satisfaction of having done the task perfectly is seen on her face. The sculptor has vividly rendered the scene of the bereft monster running with a defeated face, slightly parted mouth and nostrils flared with a sigh. The scene seems to be really happening before our eyes and is a feast for the eyes.

Dwara Balakars of Vishnu Temple

These two Dwara Balakas belong to the Vaishnava style of the Pallavar period. They are set in a narrow room as young men of royal appearance, formally dressed and crowned, greeted with a smile.

Subramanian Temple

The single-faced Murugan stands as a bas-relief sculpture of Brahma Sasta. The standing image of Murugan is majestic in appearance. There are four arms. This is how Murugan Vedo preached to Brahman.

According to the Agama Shastra, where the image of the deity should be in an Samapanga position, the Palanivel Abhaya mudra, the left hand on the hip, a lotus in the upper hand, and a Kamandalam (maybe an aksara garland) in the other.

The Urudharaksha garland called sannaveera is worn diagonally from both sides of the chest. The above Devaganas are seen holding a Neivediya vessel in one hand and a shaft in the other.

At Murugan's feet are two jatamudi-clad servants, clothed in ponul, kneeling. One hand is placed in prostration and the other on the chest. Moments are seen on both sides of the top. A bowl is held in the hand of the south side man. On both marungs, braided haired, ponul-clad ascetic sages guard the sanctum.

Krishna's Butterball

Krishna's butter ball a huge boulder with just a tip of it touching the rock giving the on-looker an impression that it may roll on him any moment. The Krishna butterball is near the Ganesha Ratha. It is near the narrow rock base. Pallava kings attempted to move it, but all the kings and there elephants are not able to move the boulder even by an inch.

Government College Of Architecture And Sculpture

Government College of Architecture and Sculpture was started in 1957. College of Sculpture which imparts training is given in various branches of temple art and architecture. According to the Sirpasastra.  The college also has a display hall, which exhibits beautiful traditional sculptures.

Open Air Museum

Open air museum is located near the Shore Temple. The newly setup modern open-air museum of sculptures reflects the cultural heritage of the Tamils from the Pre-Sangam days.  The objects on display, shaped mostly from granite by 200 sculptures, include chains of stone, ornamental wheels and a host of other items.  The themes here are many, including those relating to historical and cultural events of the past, placing the contribution of the Tamils in proper perspective. Situated very close to the Shore Koil. We can have a glimpse of the past as well as the progress being made in the present in the field of art in Tamil Nadu.

Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple

Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple is situated in a distance of 42km from Chennai and 16km from Mahabali puram City. This holy shrine is one among the 108 temples called Tirupathy.  The presiding deity is holding her on the left side. So it is called Thiru-idatha Eanthai.  It over a period of time came to be called as Thiru-Vidanthai. Tamil saint Thiru Mangai Alwar has sung the glory this holy place in the ten places in his famous ‘pasuram’. There are several messages relating to this is available in the stone scripture of first Raja Raja Cholan and Vijaya Rajendra Cholan.  Garuda Sevai during the Tamil month of Aani Pooram during the month of Aadi, spring festival during the month of Vaigasi are the important festivals. Timings: Morning: 6.00am to 1.00pm, Evening: 3.00pm to 8.00pm

Cholamandal Artists Village

Cholamandal Artists village was established by the community sculptures bronzes, icons and paintings. It is situated on the East coast Road on the way to Mamalapuram at Enjampakkam.   Timings: 9am to 7pm.

Dakshina Chitra

Dhakshina Chitra is adjacent to MGM. This complex is run by Chennai craft foundation. Here we can see the models and replica or traditional houses and other artefacts of Tamil Nadu. The rest of South India.

Tourist Places List


Thirukkalikundram is about 14km from Mamalapuram Tamil Nadu. There is an ancient Shiva temple with lofty tower at this place.  Nearby is a hill called Vedagiri, 160m high, on the top of which also there is a small Shivan Koil.  It is said that two kites arrive regularly an noon to the summit of this hill to receive food from the hands of the temple priest.  At the south-east of the town is a spacious tank whose waters are said to have curative properties.  Once in 12 years, a Shanka(conch) comes out of the tank according to the local tradition. A number of such conches obtained in the past are displayed at the temple.

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is about 60km away from this Mamalla puram city.  This is one of the major water bird sanctuaries in India.  It is the home of thousands of such birds which migrate to the vast tank for breeding.  Situated amidst pleasant surroundings and nurturing a mass of study mangrove trees with large spreading crowns in the centre, this lake attracts from the temperate zones every year between September and March, such birds.  The birds include cormorants, darters, egrets, storks, herons, spoon bills, ibises, pelicans and many other water birds.  Many of them arrive punctually even from far off places like Siberia. This is a very popular place for the bird Watchers and photographers.  A path shaded by tree atop a raised bund allows the visitors to observe nestling colony of birds.  A small rest house is built at the village for overnight stay. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the important tourist spot near by Mahabaliburam.


Thiruporur is 16km from in place. An ancient Koil dedicated to Lord Muruga is located here.  There are some historical inscriptions on the walls of the Koil as well as some interesting sculptures.


Sadras is 16km away from Mahabali puram Tamil Nadu. An old fishing village on the sea-shore which was one a Dutch settlement.  A massive fort with 14 well cut tomb stones attract the attention of the visitors to the place.

Mamalapuram is now a flourishing tourist centre and has a number of modern lodgings and rest houses to cater to the need of the visitors.  State and private buses operate in this route at frequent intervals.  However, hired taxi would be ideal to visit most of the interior places.


Alamparai is about 50km from Mamallaburam Tamil Nadu, India. There is a ruined fort built by the Nawabs. Backwaters and cool sands provide a nice for picnic spot in Magabalipuram.

Covelong Beach in Mamalapuram

Covelong beach is a small fishing village. It is about 40km from Chennai on the ECR road.  There are the remains of a fort which now functions as a luxury beach resort. Facilities for windsurfing and swimming are available here.

Crocodile Bank

Crocodile bank is about 16km from Mamalapuram and 44km from Chennai.  This crocodile breeding and research center is run by the Chennai Crocodile Bank Trust Today. The reptiles in open pools and natural surrounding can be viewed. This center was started by Romulus Whitaker in 1976.  He was the founder of Gundy Snake Park. A tribal society is also here. It runs a snake venom extraction centre. Mamalapuram was succeeded in its endeavour to protect the endanger Gharial and Marsh crocodile. It houses different species of Indian and continental crocodile and alligators. These reptiles are kept in open pools and can be viewed from safe proximity. Timings: 8.00am to 6.00pm

MGM Dizzee world

MGM Dizzee world is about 25km from mahapallipuram. Many amusement items such as Giant wheels, Toy rains, water rides, Roller Coaster etc.  Timings: 10.00am to 7.30pm.

Mudaliarkuppam Boating

Mudaliarkuppam Boat house ply Rowboats, pedal boats and Motor boats. A snack bar will also be provided shortly. This boat house attracts the tourists travelling on the ‘East coast Road’ in large numbers and provide good quality entertainment. It is about 92km from Chennai and 36km from Mamalapuram on the East Coast road. Timings 10am to 6pm.

Muttukadu Boat house

Wind surfing, Canoe kayak, Pedal Boat, Row Boat etc. are available for the public. It is located at a distance of 80km from Kanchipuram.  It is a good place to get away for a day. The Backwaters of Muttukkadu have been developed by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation to serve as a picnic spot and a centre for water sports. Training and demonstration programmes are organized for beginners.

Thameem Ansari Baba Darga

A devoted follower of the words and deeds of prophet Mohamed was born in Medina. Soon after his demise and as per his last wish his mortal remains were put in a coffin and immersed in the sea. However it reached the shores of Kovalam beach.  Thus came into being the holy shrine of the Muslim saint Thameem Ansari Baba. The first Thursday after full moon day in observed as a day of devotion open from 5am to 10pm.

Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival

Mamallapuram dance festival is organized during the months of December and January in the city of Mahablipuram in Tamil Nadu. This event witnesses performances on the Indian classical dances such as the Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathakali. The people from prominent respected fields gather for this cultural event that is also promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department as one of the major cultural attraction of these parts of India. This dance festival is celebrated for four weeks. It is held at the venue of Arjuna’s penance. A bass relief sculpted on the face of two adjacent enormous rock in Mamalapuram. The magnificent back drop is provided by the Pallava Rock sculptures.

How to Reach Mahabalipuram Tamil Nadu India

How to reach by Air

The nearest Airport is at Chennai. It is about 52km away from Mamalapuram Tamil Nadu India.

How to reach by Rail

The nearest railway station is Chengalpattu. It is about 30km From Mahabaliburam City. Trains to Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai, Chidambaram, Rameshwaram, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari etc.

How to reach By Road

The bus services from Mamallapuram City are operated by MTC and TNSTC. The travel routes are Chennai, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Thiruttani etc. It is well connected by Chennai to Pondicherry ecr. SETC operates buses to Chennai, Puducherry (95km) and Kancheepuram (65km) via Chengalpattu (30km from Mamalapuram). Chengalpattu is also the nearest railhead. Regular bus service is available from Chengalpattu to Mamalapuram. Taxis are available from Chennai airport. 

MTC bus Routes towards Koyambedu to Mahapalipuram City Bus Route Number: 568C and 588C

Mamallapuram Photo

mahabhalipuram Varaha cave Koil
Five Rathas
mahabali puram temple Pancha Rathas Photos
Pancha pandava rathas Photo
mamallapuram Koil pancha rathas Photo
rathas of Mahaballipuram city photo
Important Tourist Places in Mamallaburam five rathas
Sea shore temple
Renganatha statue in
Mahishasuramardini cave temple
mahabali puram monuments Photo
Krishna Butter Ball
Unfinished mandapam
Vishnu Cave Temple Photo
Mahaballipuram unfinished Mandapam
mahabali puram Vishnu Upholding the Universe from the stone sculptures
Mahaballipuram Mahishasuramardini Cave
mahabali puram Light House


Area: 8 sq. km.

Altitude: Sea level

Population: 12,000



Max. 36.6°C

Min 21.1°C


Max. 30.5°C

Min 19.8°C

Rainfall: 32.5 cm average

Clothing : Tropical

Languages Spoken : Tamil and English

Tourist Season: Throught the year

Frequently Asked Question

If you want ask question Contact this Mail Id: gkarthikeyan2k@yahoo.com

How much distance is from Chennai to Mahabalipuram City?
The distance from Chennai to this place is about 56km by road.