Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram), is a seaside town near Kanchipuram, 60 km south of Chennai. Mamallapuram was a trading port under the reign of the Pallava Dynasty (from the 3rd century to 9th century CE). Pallava willed us many stunning stone carvings and rock-cut structures which have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As a traveler, Mahabalipuram gives you an opportunity to explore the beautiful beaches, world-famous monuments and to enjoy the pleasant weather. Described below are a few important places to visit, but you are sure to discover even more!

Sightseeing

Thirukkadalmallai

This temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu (also known as Sri Sthalasayana Perumal temple), is one of the world's 108 Divya Desams. These are Vishnu temples mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars (saints). Divya means 'premium' and Desam indicates 'place' (temple). Of the 108 temples, 105 are in India, one is in Nepal, and two are supposedly outside the earthly realms. According to legend, the temple was built by a Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the sea. Thirukkadalmallai was the birth place of Boothathazhwar, a saint who followed Vishnu.

The Shore Temple

Classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Shore Temple is a complex of three temples which was built in the 8th century AD on a promontory sticking out into the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the oldest rock-cut stone temples in South India. The main credit for the architectural elegance of the Shore Temple complex goes to the King Rajasimha (700–28 AD), also known as Narasimhavarman II, of the Pallava Dynasty. Visiting hours for this temple are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. The entry pass costs 250 INR for foreigners and 10 INR for Indians, which includes entry to see the Five Rathas as well as the Shore Temple.

Five Rathas (Five Chariots)

Dating from the late 7th century, the Five Rathas (also known as Pancha Pandava Rathas ), is in the Five Rathas village, and an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture. These five monolithic pyramidal structures are named after the Pandavas: Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva. Despite their large size, each is carved from a large single piece of stone rather than being assembled. The Five Rathas Village is also home to numerous sculpture shops and sculptors, many of whom trained in the government-sponsored sculpture college near by.

Krishna Mandapam

Also known as Krishna Cave Temple, Krishna Mandapam is made out of a single rock and is one of the oldest cave-cut Hindu temple in Mahabalipuram. It was built in the mid-seventh century with carvings portraying the myth of Krishna lifting the mythical Govardhana Hill in order to protect the cow herds and 'gopis' (milk maids), from heavy rains and floods caused by Lord Indra (god of rain) to punish locals who stopped praying for him.

Arjuna's Penance

A giant open-air bas relief carved out of two monolithic rock boulders, Arjuna's Penance talks about Arjuna, the faithful companion of Krishna, and his illumination after long and deep meditative practice.

Krishna's Butterball

Krishna's butterball is a giant balancing rock perched on a smooth slope. According to legend, the Lord Krishna's mother 'Yasoda', tied him to a rock for stealing butter from neighbor’s houses. Upon return, she was shocked to see him pulling the rock around with him.

Varaha Mandapam

Also known as Adivaraha Cave Temple, this small rock-cut temple dating back to the 7th century talks about an avatar taken by Lord Vishnu. Among the many carvings of mythical figures, the most prominent sculpture in the cave is that of Lord Vishnu in the incarnated form of Varaha (a boar), lifting Bhudevi, the mother earth goddess, above the ocean. According to legend, the demon Hiranyaksha stole the Earth (Bhudevi) and hid her in the primordial waters. Vishnu appeared as Varaha to kill the demon and rescue his love. He then married her.

Trikkazhukundram

The word Thirukazhukundram (known as 'Thirukazhugukundram' in ancient times), comes from the Tamil words Thiru (respectful), Kazhugu (eagle), and Kundram (mount). Eagles were said to land in the Vedagirishwarar temple around 3pm. A pooja (ritual), is performed every day at 5-6 pm and participation in the ritual can be an enriching experience.

Perched on top of a hill, Vedagirishwarar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The view from the top is breathtaking. The hill temple consists of 600 steps. Considering it was built in the first millenium, the labor that went into building the steps and the temple is amazing. The name Vedagiriswarar means 'the Lord of the Vedic Mountains' in Sanskrit.

Thirupura Sundari Amman Temple

The temple at the foothills is dedicated to Parvathi, the consort known here as Thirupura Sundari Amman. The temple at the foothills has four towers (gopurams), closely resembling the architecture of Thiruvannamalai Annamalaiyar temple.

Sangu Theertha Kulam

Sangu Theertha Kulam which means 'Conch temple tank', is located in Thirukkazhukundram. It is here that a conch is believed to appear once every twelve years.

Important Festivals

Pongal Festival begins January 14th for 4 days
Tribal Festival February
Diwali October to November
Pongal Dance Festival December 23rd to January 25th

Travel Information

Airport Chennai International Airport (57 km far from Mahabalipuram)
Train station Chennai Central Railway Station (56 km from Mahabalipuram)

Weather

Mostly sunny with a monsoon season from November to mid-December. Pleasant winters from November until the end of February.

Taxi Rates
Trips Rupees Euros Dollars Pounds
Chennai Airport - Mahabalipuram
Chennai Central railway station - Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram - Chennai Airport
Mahabalipuram - Chennai Central railway station
Mahabalipuram - Tiruvannamalai
Mahabalipuram - Varadiahpalem
Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry
Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram

* Given as an indication only. Exchange rates updated daily.