Mahabalipuram: Where history lives at the shore #myfriendalexa

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I enjoyed strolling barefoot along the sandy beach as I breathe in the salty air; and admire the beautiful structures as they echo the history with flair. These two lines surmise about my recent trip to Mahabalipuram, a shore town in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Also known by the name Mamallapuram or Seven Pagodas, Mahabalipuram, is a perfect blissful destination for those who want to lap up not only the frothy ocean but a little bit of history too during their stay; since this town is home to UNESCO world heritage sights, found in the form of rock-cut and monolithic monuments and temples.

Shore temple: It’s a place where you can witness the perfect combination of sand, sea and rocks; a unique phenomenon where the rock-cut temple stands majestically amidst golden sand near the shores of Bay of Bengal. Built in 7th century during the reign of Pallava dynasty, the complex consists of three elaborately carved temples: two dedicated to the god Shiva, and one to lord Vishnu . Explore the shrines at your own pace, delving into the fine details of architectural brilliance and of course, capturing beautiful images into your camera.  And Once you are done exploring the entire premises , sit calmly on the stairs of the temple and listen to the tales which silent stones try to tell you.

Interesting facts and tips about the temple: 

  • The whole temple is designed in such a way that the first rays of the rising sun falls on it  making the temple looks magnificently attractive  in the mornings.
  • Since its constructed on bed-rock and not on sand , it even withstood the devastating effects of Tsunami which struck the coromandal coast in 2006.
  • Avoid going during afternoon as it becomes really hot at that time.
  • There are many shops around shore temple from where you can buy local memorabilia.
  • The entrance ticket for Indian is rupees 30 and for NRI’s 500. Do hire an authorized guide to know in details about the temple.
  • If you plan your trip to Mahabalipuram during the month of Dec-Jan, you can catch the Mamallapuram Dance Festival held every year, in which exponents of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali perform against the magnificent backdrop of stone sculptors. 

Though Shore temple is the main attraction of Mahabalipuram , there are other places too which are worth paying visit.

Panch Rathas: According to a plaque displayed at the site by the ASI, the Pallava dynasty had planned the structures as models of chariots in rock based on prototypes of ancient rathas built in wood. The five named as ‘Dharmaraja Ratha’, ‘Bhima Ratha’, ‘Arjuna Ratha’, ‘Nakula Sahadeva Ratha’, and ‘Draupadi Ratha’ are made out of large block of stone and are known for its rich carvings. All rathas are chiseled with sculptors of gods, demi-gods, animals and other beautiful motifs.

Mark my words when I say that the carvings are so beautiful that there is high probability of you standing in front of these structures for some time and do nothing but gape in astonishment.

Located at the short distance from the shore temple on coromondal coast of bay of Bengal , the Panch Rathas are open daily from 6am to 6pm.

Arjun penance: It’s an Another amazing monolithic structure in Mahabalipuram  which is located so close to main road that I could take its picture from the window of the car only. Feeling a little tired after visiting the above two monuments, we dint feel like getting down from the car and admired its beauty from a distance only. 

Let me tell you a little bit about the monument : Arjun Penance showcases, scene from Mahabharata including that of Arjuna performing a penance. Adjacent to Arjuna’s Penance is another monolithic rock structure known as  Descent of Ganges , and the two combinedly formed the world’s largest ‘Bas Relief’ at Mahabalipuram (100 meters long)

Krishna’s butterball: The phenomenon of zero gravity is not only restricted to Moon but you  can see the situation  on earth also if you visit Krishna’s butterball in Mahabalipuram. Here a granite boulder weighing 250 ton ,standing 20 feet high and occupying just 5 meters area underneath it,balances  itself on an extremely slippery area of  hill.

It is said that in 1908, then-governor of the city Arthur Havelock made an attempt to use seven elephants to move the boulder from its position due to safety concerns, but failed.

Mahabalipuram could also be described as a sculptors city with many roadside shops packed with rock-cut statues, idols  and small items all for sale.

How to reach:

Mahabalipuram is one hour’s drive from Chennai. The whole drive on the east coast road from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is scenic and serene. Within Mahabalipuram all sites are within a radius of 2 kilometres.

Chennai airport is the nearest to Mahabalipuram . Taxis, cabs and buses are easily available from airport to reach Mahabalipuram.

Where to stay:

Accomodation is available for every budget, from luxury beach side resorts to Airbnb and home-stays.

Check my story on Mahabalipuram on my Instagram page @bytetrails

Also read tips and tricks for budget travel:

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22 thoughts on “Mahabalipuram: Where history lives at the shore #myfriendalexa”

  1. Mayuri Nidigallu at 9:15 am

    Having visited Mahabalipuram , I would say your photographs and description have done full justice to the beauty of the place. You post has all the information a first time traveler would need. Good one, Milan.

    1. bytetrails at 3:32 pm

      You are one lucky person to stay close to such a beautiful place.
      And thanks for appreciating the blog; glad you liked it.

  2. Shamik at 11:06 am

    Lovely post.
    Your post took back me to my visit to the beautiful Mahabalipuram. Its an absolutely great place and if you are a traveler you cannot miss Mahabalipuram in your list.

  3. Rashi Roy at 11:38 am

    Have heard a lot about it but never planned to visit. You have described the place beautifully. Hope to visit someday.

  4. Lancelot at 1:15 pm

    I am planning to visit that part soon and hopefully should keep this in my wishlist. Anyway the stone really is gravity defying!!

  5. Prerna wahi at 3:54 pm

    Beautiful write-up and pictures. I have gone there and so felt that you did full justice to paint a picture of Mahabalipuram. Keep writing!

  6. arv at 2:02 pm

    I used to visit Mahabalipuram every time I was in Chennai. It’s been quite some years now!

  7. Disha at 5:27 pm

    Mahabalipuram has rich history. I had visited it with my family and have fond memories of that trip. Mamallapuram Dance Festival sounds exciting.

  8. Paresh Godhwani at 6:08 pm

    As I read the title I thought it will be related to Bahubali or something but there is a great amount of history on the shore. I would love visit the temple which is a perfect combination of sea, sand and rock.

  9. Aditya Sathe at 4:55 pm

    Those photos of various temples of Mahabalipuram are beautiful. I really wish ti witness it first hand. Thanks for the virtual tour.

  10. Maheshwaran Jothi at 11:23 am

    I love this place and don’t know how many times have been here. But, the only difficulty is walking in the hot sun! Appreciate your patience in taking the picture. Almost all picture has no or minimum people, esp in such a crowded tourist destination.

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