Mahabalipuram (also known as “Mamallapuram”) is one of the prominent towns in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu. Mahabalipuram was the port city of Pallava dynasty during 7th century. Number of monuments (Shore temple, Pancha Rathas, Descent of the Ganges, etc) were carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast during those times and still can be seen in this town. The group of these monuments has been announced as World Heritage site in 1984.
The wedding was in the early morning and all the rituals got over by 9 AM. After 9 o’clock, there was nothing much to do in the wedding hall, we came back to our hotel, checked out, and went back the wedding hall at around 11.30 AM. We finished our lunch by 1 PM, told bye to all our relatives, and started towards Mahabalipuram at 2 PM.
Mahabalipuram is around 60 km from Chennai. The road that we took to reach Mahabalipuram was Each Coast Road (ECR), a state highway (SH49) built along coast of Bay of Bengal. The sun was scorching hot. ECR is maintained well (except for few kilometers in the beginning of the road (in Chennai)). After some distance, we could see the sea on one side of us. It was a pleasant ride. We reached Mahabalipuram at around 3 PM.
Descent of the Ganges (Arjuna’s penance)
As soon as we entered the town, we had to pay 40 Rs for the entry. Within a kilometer, “Descent of the Ganges”, one of the famous monuments of Mahabalipuram was in front of us. This monument is a massive open-air relief measuring 29 m X 15 m depicting the story of descent of sacred river Ganges to earth from heaven led by Bhagiratha. This is also called as “Arjuna’s penance”. The intricate carvings describe the intellects of our ancestors. One will become speechless in front of the beauty of these carvings.
Krishna’s Butter Ball
This is the giant rock balancing on the small slippery area of a hill, situated just behind the “Descent of the Ganges” relief. This rock is said to be around 1200 years. This rock weighs 250 tons and still, stands miraculously on a narrow base.
If you go further, you could see a beautiful cave temple called Varaha cave temple. The carvings inside the cave are absolutely amazing. The sculptures looked similar to the ones in Badami cave temples.
Few more steps from Varaha cave temple, you would see “Rayar Gopuram”. This is an incomplete temple. Though the name of the monument has “Gopuram” in it, a gopuram was never constructed. Only the structure to support the gopuram was erected. Still, this unfinished structure looks magnificent and makes this a perfect place for photography.
- Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
- Entry fee: 10 Rs/person for Indians and 250 Rs/person for foreigners
- Parking fee: 30 Rs (for car parking)
Shore temple is the most popular monument among the Mahabalipuram group of monuments. The temple is 1300 years old and is built on the shore of Bay of Bengal. As we walk towards the temple from the parking lot, the view of the temple becomes more and more beautiful. The temple is huge and is a very peaceful place. The temple’s minute carvings have been eroded due to salty winds. ASI (Archaelogical Survey of India) has taken necessary measures to protect this precious masterpiece from further such damages. Despite this erosion, the temple looks extraordinarily beautiful. This is why, the place is an attraction for number of tourists from all over the world.
- Entry fee: 10 Rs/person
- Parking fee: 30 Rs (for car parking)
One more main attraction of Mahabalipuram is “Pancha Rathas” (meaning, five chariots). These are the five temples in the form of different shaped chariots. The temples are absolutely flawless. What is even more astonishing is that each of these temples is carved out of a single rock. The animals like lion and elephant are also carved out of a monolith and they look perfect. Mahabalipuram is truly a must visit place for those who are interested in art and history. I have read that, every year, from December to January, tourism department of Tamil Nadu government organizes Indian dance festival here. In this grand festival, many famous artists of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam, and Kathakali perform in front of these wonderful sculptures. I am sure it will be a treat for eyes for dance lovers.
The total toll fee that we paid during our journey is as follows:
|Toll Plaza Name||Fee (Single journey, Car)|
|Toll to Mahabalipuram-Pondy Road||24|
|Toll at Chengalpet||35|
- Route Travelled: Chennai > Mahabalipuram (via East Coast Road) > Chengalpet > Kanchipuram > Vellore > Hosur > Electronic City > BTM Layout
- Photos: Day 2 – Mahabalipuram Photos