With a group that spans several generations, it is always a task to find activities that all can do and enjoy. With such requirements, Mahabalipuram is a great place, right by the sea, holding some delightful surprises for everyone in the family. Mahabalipuram is a great place to explore the marvelous features of sculpture, culture and architecture.
It is situated at a distance of 60Km from the Chennai airport. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is lorded by Shiva temples on either side. It is the most photographed monument of India. It is from the Pallava period and is based on the architecture that was followed by the Dravidians. It dates back to 8th century AD. It was built by the king Narasimhavarman ll, (Rajasimha). It is India’s oldest structural stone and is declared as “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO. It is located on the shore of Bay of Bengal, facing the sea.
Pancha Rathas (5) chariots
The five rathas look like different buildings and are carved out of large individual rocks. It was built by the Pallavas. The five rathas are namely called as the Draupadi Ratha, Dharamraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha and Nakula- Sahadeva Ratha, who are the famous personalities of Indian Epics. It is also declared as a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO.
It is also called as the descent of the Ganges. This sculpture has a story referring to the origin of the Holy River Ganges on Earth. It is 27 metres long and 9 metres high. The Arjuna’s penance is also the world’s largest bas-relief. This sculpture depicts the Hindu Mythological thoughts and the lifestyle of the people of South India who lived during the reign of the Pallavas.
It is a massive rock that is the most popular and favorite spot for tourists visiting Mahabalipuram. It is balanced on a hill side and is 5 metres in diameter and it is called a butterball because it is referred to Lord Krishna’s favourite butterball as it resembles like a big ball of butter.
Thirkadalmallai is a temple that is built for Lord Vishnu. This was built by the Pallava King as an initiative to protect all the sculptures from the ocean. The interesting part is that the sculptures were not corroded from the waters of the sea after this temple was built.
The place has several caves with intricate sculptures and patterns throughout. The five famous caves situated here are the Varaha Cave, Dharmaraja Cave, Tiger Cave and Mahishasura Mardhini Cave.
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
In December, every year, Mahabalipuram has something special to offer the tourists. The Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is hosted during this month and is dedicated to Indian classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Odissi. Kathakali is held during the month of January.
Mahabalipuram has yet another attraction, the famous Sculpture Museum. It houses over 3000 sculptures including those depicting the Hindu Mythological characters, Gods and Goddesses. It also houses several ancient rock carvings from the Pallava Dynasty period.
Sea Shell Museum
It is the largest sea shell museum in Asia and the second largest in the world. It houses over 40000 specimens of rare and unique seashells, all are collections of a single person. It is the greatest collection by a private collector and all the shells are neatly arranged and categorized.
Madhumitha is an expert travel writer who loves world cultures. She is also a freelance blogger for the Heritage Hotels in Mahabalipuram. According to her, getting out all on paper may not be possible, but it is rewarding as it allows her to lead someone through the journey that she once did.