Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram


About

A monument complex famously known as Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram lies on the Bay of Bengal's Coromandel Coast. This place is located near Chennai in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu. The place houses the biggest open-air bas-relief in the entire world, with roughly forty sanctuaries. In 1984 it was distinguished as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

These monuments were constructed during the period of the Pallavas. The site includes Descent of the Ganges; cave temples or mantapas, namely Krishna Cave Temple, Varaha Cave Temple, Panchapandava Cave Temple, Mahishasuramardini Cave Temple; and structural temples like the Olakkannesvara Temple and the Shore Temple. The Pancha Rathas or temples in the form of chariots, namely the Dharmaraja Ratha, the Bheema Ratha, the Arjun Ratha, the Nakula Sahadeva Ratha and the Draupadi Ratha, are seen along with the Ganesha Ratha.

This place has several names, such as Mahamallapuram, Mamallapuram, Mavalipuram and Mallapuram. The European sailors nicknamed it as the 'Land of Seven Pagodas' after the seven stupas or pinnacles of the temples. One can visit a museum that showcases architectural pieces and sculptures found here. A course on history of sculpting and stone-carving is taught in an architectural school here. The 7th- and 8th-century architectural grandeur makes Mahabalipuram one of the renowned tourist destinations in South India.

History

During 7th century the Pallava kings established this place as a town. Subsequently it was named after the 7th century Pallava king Narasimhavarman I became famous for the caves, temples and structures that were built during AD 630 to AD 728. It is said that some of the architectural edifices were also built during the reign of Mahendravarman I, who was the father of king Narasimhavarman I. The era of rock-cut architecture, including construction of temples, started in South India from the 7th century, when the Dravidian style of architecture was adopted. The temples and monuments built during this period include rock-cut ornamented caves, temples, and the famous Descent of the Ganges - the largest ever open-air bas relief of the ancient times. The Shore Temple, one of the magnificent temples in Mahabalipuram, was built during the reign of Rajasimha, another Pallava king in the 8th century, when structural temples gained prominence over rock-cut monolithic temples. Now the place stands as a testimony to the ancient architectural brilliance initiated by the Pallavas.

Location

The town of Mahabalipuramis is situated on the Bay of Bengal's Coromandel Coast, located in the Kanchipuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The state capital Chennai is at a distance of 58 km from Mahabalipuram.

Best Time to Visit

Mahabalipuram experiences moderate and humid climatic conditions round the year. During winters from November to February, the days remain pleasant and the nights colder, with a minimum temperature of around 16 degrees centigrade. From March to May, summer prevails, with maximum temperature rising up to 42 degrees centigrade and minimum around 21 degrees centigrade. Enjoying sightseeing and outdoor activities become quite tiresome during this time. June to September experiences heavy rains with humidity. The ideal time to explore this ancient town is from October to March, especially during the dance festival organized by tourism department that begins every 25th December. The festival comes to life with classical music and different forms of dance such as folk dance, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathakali and Kuchipudi.

Opening Timings

The Group Monuments of Mahabalipuram remain open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Entrance Fees
  • Entry fee is Rs. 10 per head for citizens of India, the SAARC, and the BIMSTEC countries.
  • Entry fees for others is US$ 5 or INR 250 per head.
  • Free entry for children up to 15 years.
Where to Stay

Mahabalipuram offers its visitors proper accommodation facilities with a good number of hotels and resorts. The hotels include budget hotels as well as lavish ones. The resorts are comparatively costlier and offer panoramic view of the beach that is spectacular and unmatched. Facilities for business groups are also available that include banquet halls, conference rooms and venues for events and seminars. Some of the hotels are even located in the vicinity of the sculptures and caves, thus facilitating a visitor to just take a walk and explore the architectural extravaganza.

How to Reach

The nearest railhead from Mahabalipuram is Chengalpattu, about 29 km away. Taxis are available from Chengalpattu to reach Mahabalipuram. The major railway station is in the state capital Chennai, which has good connectivity with other major cities, including metro cities of India.

The nearest airport, about 54 km away, is also located in Chennai (the Chennai International Airport). The airport has two terminals, international and domestic, and is well connected with major Indian cities. International flights from Middle East countries, Gulf countries, Colombo and Singapore land here. Taxis are available to reach Mahabalipuram.

Public transport buses, tourist buses and hired cars ply regularly from adjoining cities and from Chennai, which can be availed to reach Mahabalipuram. Once you are in the city you can take a taxi or an auto rickshaw to visit the monuments. It is also possible that you walk down to visit the monuments if your hotel happens to be in the vicinity of the site.



Last Updated on : December 31, 2013



     


     

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