Mamallapuram Places to visit in Mahabalipuram Tourist Places India
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. Mahabalipuram 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.
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram History
Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. 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. Formerly, mahabalipuram was known and called as Mamallapuram. The former name of this place ‘Mahabalipuram’ has a history.
It was during the reign of King Narasimha Varman I(630 - 668AD), the name Mahabalipuram was changed. It was renamed mahabalipuram which is called till now. 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 Mahabalipuram to Mamallapuram considering the great king and his achievements.
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.
It 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 and mahabalipuram is the best place to praise off their skill and talent. New sculptures and unique paintings were innovative and exuberant. This place mahabalipuram 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 Mamallapuram 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 in mahabalipuram was hidden until the late 18th century. What is special about mahabalipuram? 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. Mamallpuram is referred as an ‘open-air museum’. The great pallava kings Narasimha I and Rajasimha have well preserved these stylistic qualities that one enjoys in mahabalipuram even in the present day.
Mahabalipuram Sightseeing Places
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.
Mahabalipuram City Tamil Nadu
Mahabalipurm is a town of 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.
It ( 12°37'02''N; 80°11'39''E) is about 59km South of Chennai we can reach by East coast road Via Kovalam. Mahabalipuram is a famous tourist destination in South India. Private and Government tour operators can conducts trip to Mahabalipuram. Regular bus services are available from Koyambedu Bus stand, Chennai. The ancient tradition of stone carving is still alive in Mahabalipuram. We can here the rhythmic sounds of hammer and chisels event today. UNESCO has added these group of monuments in the World Heritage List.
It 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. Its present name is derived from the title given to Narasimha Varman as Mahamalla meaning a great warrior. 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 of Mamallapuram 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.
Mahabalipuram Places to Visit
Mamallapuram 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 temples. It is made up of monolith processional chariots and Mandapa viharas. Archaeological Survey of India is managing this sites.
Shore Temple Mahabalipuram
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 Narsimha Varma II, also known as Rajasimha. It is one of the oldest temples in South India and 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 Temple 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 temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is flanked by two Shiva temples, one facing the east and the other facing the west. Both the Shiva Temples are crowned by soaring spires, while the Vishnu Temple has none, as it may have crumbled with time. The Vishnu temple was built by Narasimha Varma I or "Mamalla", while the Shiva temples were later built by his son Narasimha Varman II.
Arjuna's Penance in Mamallapuram
Arjuna Penance is the splendor of Mamallapuram. 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.
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.
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.
Lord Vishnu is shown in this cave temple 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.
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 temple. 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.
Pandava Rathas or Monolithic Temple at Mahabalipuram
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.
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. 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.
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.
The Tiger Cave
This cave is about 4km north of the main monument complex. There is a beautiful monolithic stage where cultural programmes were held in olden days. Though very near the sea this place is serene and calm.
Open Air Museum
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 Temple.
Mahabalipuram Tourist Places
Thirukkalikundram is about 14km from Mahabalipuram. 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 Shiva temple. 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 Mamallapuram. 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 b;irds. 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.
Thiruporur is 16km from Mahabalipuram. An ancient temple dedicated to Lord Muruga is located here. There are some historical inscriptions on the walls of the temple as well as some interesting sculptures.
Sadras is 16km away from Mahabalipuram. 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.
How to Reach Mahabalipuram
How to reach Mamallapuram by Air
The nearest Airport is at Chennai. It is about 52km.
How to reach Mamallapuram by Rail
The nearest railway station is Chengalpattu, 30km from Mamallapuram. Trains to Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai, Chidambaram, Rameshwaram, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari etc.
How to reach Mahabalipuram By Road
The bus services from Mamallapuram 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 Mamallapuram) . Chengalpattu is also the nearest railhead. Regular bus service is available from Chengalpattu to Mamallapuram. Taxis are available from Chennai airport.
Area: 8 sq. km.
Altitude: Sea level
Rainfall: 32.5 cm average
Clothing : Tropical
Languages Spoken : Tamil and English
Tourist Season: Throught the year
Frequently Asked Question in Mahabalipuram Or Mamallapuram
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How much distance is from Chennai to Mahabalipuram?
The distance from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is about 56km by road.