Mahabalipuram Tour

Mahabalipuram Tour

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Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

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Tour Information & Highlights
Mahabalipuram, is a city of state of Tamil Nadu, situated around 60 Kms from the capital Chennai. Also known as Mamallapuram, Mahabalipuram is a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas. It is believed that the city have been named after either the demon king Mahabali or the Pallava king Mamalla.

Several historical monuments built between 7th century to 9th century stand at Mahabalipuram, and these has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the monuments are rock-cut and monolithic, which portray the early stages of Dravidian architecture, in addition Buddhist elements of design are largely visible.

The monuments are comprised of temples inside the cave,monolithic rathas (chariots), sculpted reliefs and structu01ral temples. The pillars are carved in Dravidian order, while the sculptures are fine examples of Pallava art. British traveller J. Goldingham who was told of the"Seven Pagodas" first of written about Mahabalipuram, when he visited the place in 1798. Mahabalipuram set on a rocky surface, between the beach and a lagoon is famous for its scenic beauty.

The town presents a good combination of history with expanded beaches and fabulous fish and lobster. Despite a large number of tourists the environment of the town is friendly and relaxing. Mahabalipuram is best known for its series of spectacular rathas and the nicely carved relief depicting Arjuna's Penance. Tourists visit the town to enjoy their vacation in its miles of unspoiled beach and watching rock-cut art.

The sculptures of the Mahabalipuram have are quite interesting because it depict scenes of one's day-to-day life, instead of depicting gods and goddesses. Mahabalipuram is a favourite shopping destination for South Indian Artefacts, both wooden and granite based.

Major Tourist Attractions in Mahabalipuram: Arjuna's Penance, Caves Mahabalipuram, Rathas, Krishna Mandapam, Shore Temple etc.
Arjuna's Penance, Mahabalipuram
The 27 metres long and 9 metres high, Arjuna's Penance is perhaps one of the biggest open-air rocksculptures in the world. The skillfully carved edifice is named after Arjuna, the Epic hero of the Mahabharata.

It is said that the sight have aroused the curiosity of the animals of the world, which gathered around the soaking God. Some of the famous fables from the Hindu Panchatantra books are depicted here.

There are more than 100 images of gods and flying celestial creatures, birds and animals including giant elephants, human beings andsaints in this beautifully sculpted surrounding.
Caves, Mahabalipuram
The Varaha Cave, a small rock-cut mandapam (hall) portrays the twoAvatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu as Vishnu Varaha (boar) and VishnuVamana (dwarf). Four panels of the famous Pallava door keepers are must seeing here. They are in a mood of contemplative reverie, a lyrical softness and subtle grace, totally in their respective role as guards of the gods imposeson them.

The Dharmaraja Cave of early 7th century comprises three empty shrines.

The Mahisasurmardini Cave built in mid 17th century has finebas-reliefs on its panels. The Somaskanda sculpture depicts peace, power,and wisdom while Lord Vishnu is shown in a pose of masterpiece of Dhwani (the art of suggestion). A huge theatrical panel located on the other sideshows fight of goddess Durga with the demon Mahishasura. Another rock-cutcave of 7th century called as Tiger Cave lies 5 km north of Mahabalipuram.
Rathas, Mahabalipuram
Rathas(chariots) are a famous group of structures, lying amidst Casuarina trees, at the southern tip of Mahabalipuram. The Pancha Pandava Rathas are five in number, in which four are carved out of a single rock, while the fifth on the west is scooped out from a small rock.

They are in different forms like the square Draupadi and Arjuna Rathas, the linear Bhima Ratha, the taller Dharamraja Ratha and theapical Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha. In addition there are Ganesha Ratha and two Pidari Rathas. The hut-like Draupadi Ratha depicts doorkeepers and Durga with a worshipper offering his head.

The Arjuna Ratha has its outer walls carved with the most beautiful images of gods and mortals. The Sahadeva Ratha has a huge monolithic elephant in front, while the Bhima Ratha has two storeys and lion-based pillars. The biggest Dharamraja Ratha have eight panels of massive sculptures, provide the visitor with insight into the craftsmen's skill.
Krishna Mandapam, Mahabalipuram
The temple is one of the oldest rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram. The walls of the temples portray images of pastoral life. One image of Krishna shows him lifting the Govardhan Hill in his finger tips to save his people from Indra.
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
The Shore Temple situated at the sea-shore is the ultimate expression of Mahabalipuram. A Vishnu temple positioned between two Shiva temples reflects an architectural grandeur. Onother side of the temple the sea spreads endlessly.

The surrounding wall of this temple is lined with beautiful sculptures of Nandi, the bull of Vishnu while the figure of Vishnu is also present. The Shore Temple is the venue of annual Mahabalipuram Dance Festival held every year in the month of January/February every year. In the occasion artists from all over the country come at a platform to perform.
Famous Excursions from Mahabalipuram
The beautiful beach resort of Covelonglies about 19 Kms from Mahabalipuram. This is a calm fishing village with the remains of a old fort. Facilities like wind-surfing, swimming and watersports, attract the tourist to visit here.

Crocodile Bank
Situated around 14 Kms from Mahabalipuram, the Crocodile Bank lies on the Chennai-Mahabalipuram road.Founded by an American , Romulus Whitaker in the year 1976, the number of crocodiles here increased in its first 15 years from 15 to over 5,000.Nearby the bank a snake farm stands, where anti-venom is produced fortreating snakebites.

Kanchipuram,also known as the city of thousand temples, is located 65 Kms away from Mahabalipuram. In Kanhipuram around 650 stone inscriptions are present that belong to different dynasties. The temples here depict the maturity and beauty of Pallava art. The ornate and often imposing embellishments were built later by the Chola, Vijayanagara and Chalukyan kings.

Situated at a distance of 21 Kms from Madurai, Muttukadu is perfect place for water sports. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has a boat house here. One can enjoy boating,canoeing, kayaking, and wind-surfing here. The Dakshina Chitra of Madras Craft Foundation 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.

Vedanthangal is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in India, located 53 Kms away from Mahabalipuram. A large number of birds visit the sanctuary every year. It is assumed that around 1,00,000 species of bird including storks, cormorants, darter, egrets and flamingos visit this sanctuary between October and March.
Accommodation in Mahabalipuram
In Mahabalipuram there are many hotels available to suit all ranges. The main hotels of the town include Golden Sun Hotel and Beach Resort, GRT Temple Bay, Hotel Mamalla Heritage, K G Emerald Beach Hotel, Mamalla Bhavan Annexe, Vindodhara Guest house, Ashok Beach Resort, Silversands and the state-run Tamil Nadu Beach Resort Complex etc.
Best Time to Visit in Mahabalipuram
The climate of Mahabalipuram remains hot and humid throughout the year.Therefore the best time to visit the town is between October and March
How to reach Mahabalipuram?
By Air - Chennai (58 Kms) is the nearest airport with both domestic and international services. Chennai is connected with all the major cities in India by several domestic flights.

By Rail - The nearest Railway Stations from Mahabalipuram are Chengalpattu (29 Kms) and Chennai (58 Kms). From these station you have to take road journey.

By Road - Regular bus service is available from Chennai ( 58 Kms), Kanchipuram (65 Kms), Chengalpattu and Pondicherry.
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