Mahabalipuram | India
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Mahabalipuram

Mamallapuram (Tamil: மாமல்லபுரம்), also known as Mahabalipuram, is a tourist town 60 km south of Chennai famous for its stone carvings.

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Planning a Trip

Arjuna's Penance bas-relief Buses arrive in the centre of town from CMBT and Tiruvanmiyur in Chennai and from Kanchipuram. There are direct buses from CMBT, but you can take any bus that has ECR written on the front. The ECR bus, which can be picked up at Tiruvanmiur, is the most economical way of getting to Mamallapuram from Chennai, costing less than ₹40 (1 hour). The ECR bus will drop you about 2 kilometers outside of town, and rickshaws will be outside waiting (can be bargained down to ₹30). You can also catch the ECR bus from Pondicherry for ₹65 (2 hours). To get to the ECR from Triplicane, walk to Kamarajar Promenade running parallel with the beach. Walk to the beach side of the road and head to the nearest bus stop. Take bus SP19 or SP19x to Tiruvanmiyur (₹15). The ECR bus stop is 30 meters before the Tiruvanmiur stop. A taxi from Chennai will cost ₹600-₹800 one-way (USD 15 to 20) though the rates are likely to be higher based on the season, cab operator. Visitors outside Chennai, even Indian nationals and most definitely from Overseas are likely to be asked for higher rates. To or from the airport will cost ₹800-₹1,200 and will take one hour off peak and 1 1/2 hours peak time. Please negotiate the cab fares at the beginning of the journey and remain firm if the operator asks for more. The drive from Chennai on the East Coast Road is, by Indian standards, a wonderful experience: it is one of the few toll roads in India and maintained well. That said, it's still only one lane per direction with no divider, so overtaking tends to be hair-raising and high-speed head-on collisions are all too common. The road runs parallel to the coast of Bay of Bengal making it a scenic driveway, although you will not see the sea until the last few miles. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami wreaked havoc around here, so you will see shanty-towns built for affected fishermen and much of the greenery has been swept away.)

Mahabalipuram

Top Attractions

A combined entrance ticket to the Shore Temple and the Five Rathas costs ₹250 for foreigners and ₹10 for Indian citizens. Local guides, who speak multiple languages, are available for around ₹200 for a tour of all main attractions. You can also hire a cab (non-ac) for about ₹150 for 2 1/2 hours, during which you will be taken to all the major tourists spots in Mamallapuram. Krishna's Butterball 12.6191480.192411 Krishna's Butterball. This is a giant natural rock perched on a hillside, seemingly in defiance of all laws of physics—it's a common sight to see visitors placing hands under the stone posing for pics, which looks as though they are holding it! The rock provides welcome shade if you dare to sit underneath it, and local kids have discovered that the slippery nearby hillside also makes a great natural slide.  Three of the Five Rathas, with an elephant standing guard 12.6089380.189512 Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas.). This site contains five rathas, literally chariots, dating from the 7th century. The sculptures are complemented by some enormous stone animals, including a large elephant.  Approaching the Shore Temple 12.6158580.193653 Sculpture Museum (Meganath Sculptures), No. 32, Five Rathas Road, East Raja Street. This museum has hundreds of sculptures in stone, wood etc.It is well worth a visit. ₹2 entrance fee..  12.6164480.199234 Shore Temple. The oldest structure in the area, build c. 700 AD, this temple has been here for more than 1400 years. However, unlike Mamallapuram's other monuments, the Shore Temple is a building (not carved from rock) and the bulk of the current structure is a reconstruction after it was struck by a cyclone. It's not particularly large, and the carvings have been badly eroded by the wind and the sea, but this adds to the sense of antiquity. The area around the temple is now a landscaped park, with guards keeping the hordes of souvenir hawkers at bay. A Shiva lingam is enshrined in the central building and the site can get very crowded on weekends.  12.61666780.1986115 Thirukadalmallai (Sthalasayana Perumal Temple). The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean. It is told that after building this temple, the remaining architecture was preserved and was not corroded by sea.  The following structures are all carved straight out of rock in the central hillside area, so you can travel between them on foot. The scenery within the hills is also quite unusual, with smooth rock rising out of the forest and carved stairways leading between the mandapas (pavilions), caves and carvings. Walking through the forest 12.6177480.192646 Arjuna's Penance (Descent of the Ganges). A giant bas-relief filled with detailed carvings, including a family of elephants and monkeys. Archaeologists still squabble over what, exactly, the bas relief depicts; the central figure may actually depict Bhagiratha, not Arjuna.  12.6152380.19167 Mahishamardini Cave (Mahishamardini Rock Cut Mandapa). The central carving in this cave is of Shiva and Parvati and Murugan  12.657180.209318 Tiger Cave, Saluvankuppam. Rock Cut Hindu temple noted for its carvings of tigers. The mouth of the cave forms the entrance to the temple.  Varaha Cave. Varaha Cave has four impressive carvings of Vishnu, Gakalakshmi, Trivikama and Durga.  Old and new light houses provide views across the area to the sea. There are several unfinished temples nearby, and the December 2004 tsunami exposed more previously submerged temples.

Mahabalipuram