Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram as it was formerly known, is an enigma for historians. Mamallapuram is a popular tourist destination in the south India tour. It is coastal town around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu and was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas.
Mahabalipuram is famous for its rock-sculptures and other historical monuments. Most of the monuments here were constructed during the 7th/8th Century CE during the Pallava period. Considering its historical importance, the monuments here have (collectively) been designated as UNESCO world heritage site.
Mamallapuram is also the venue of a vibrant dance festival organized during the months of January and February. Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and other exponents of Indian dance forms perform against the magnificent backdrop of the ancient stone temples.
There are plenty of sight-seeing options here – all that can be covered in a day and still have plenty of time to relax by the sea. The three major attractions here are Arjuna’s penance, Five Rathas and the Shore Temple. Apart from this there are couple of cave temples near Arjuna’s penance, Krishna’s butterball, Tiger cave, a lighthouse and a few other rock carvings on the way. The rock carving on Arjuna’s penance are nothing short of spectacular. The view from the Lighthouse is not to be missed. The Five Rathas are to be seen to be believed. And finally the Shore Temple is another masterpiece in stone.
Chennai is close to Mahabalipuram at only distance of 54 kms. However, other cities like Bangalore (346 kms), Hyderabad (708 kms), Pune (1168 kms), Nagpur (1215 kms) are quite far from Mahabalipuram.
By Train: The closest rail station is Chengalpattu placed at distance of 29 kms. Talking about big railway station Chennai is close and linked to almost every city of India. Train for Chengalpattu is available from Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Voyagers can also get the train to Salem which is 311 kms away from Mahabalipuram.
By Air: closest big airport is CIA (Chennai International Airport) at only distance of 54 kms. Two terminals of Chennai airport allow domestic and international flights both so travelers from India and abroad both can reach to Chennai easily. Chennai airport is having flights from Colombo, Middle East nations, Singapore, Gulf countries and various other nations.
By Bus: TNT (Tamil Nadu Transport) Services are having buses for Mahabalipuram. Even buses to Mahabalipuram are available from some more cities of India.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year.
Image Credit: IWT on Flickr