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India is a beautiful country with a unique color, history, and ancient traditions. Anyone who has been here will not be able to forget all the colors of this great country. You can not only enjoy relaxing on the soft sand in luxurious hotels, but you can also visit many historical sights that you will be delighted with. Mamallapooram or Mahabalipuram is considered the most attractive tourist destination in Tamil Nadu. There are different stories associated with its origin, and you will find this destination the most special place in the country. Some say this place is named after the demon Mahabali, who was famous for his benevolence. There are countless historical monuments here that will amaze you. There are many such activities in Mamallapuram which attract one. Visiting temples is also the main attraction here. If you want to take some beautiful moments out of your everyday life, then a trip to Mamallapooram is the best option for you. Let's know about the attractions of this place -
Knowing about the history of Mamallapooram, we find that it was once a trading town established during the Pallava dynasty. Mamallapooram had become an important port and a splendid center of flourishing activity here. The Pallavas dynasty has left behind a wealth of glorious history, architecture, and culture, which included stunning monoliths, rock temples, attractive statues of gods, etc. However, the history of Mahabalipuram is considered to be a 7th-8th century old, even before the Pallava dynasty. Mamallapooram is a small town, rather even a tourist village, fifty kilometers south of Chennai. Mamallapooram was founded in the Palava dynasty's era and was the empire's main seaport. There seem to be even more historical monuments here than there are inhabitants. Mamallapooram's vast sculptural heritage has made the town the stone-carving capital of Tamil Nadu and the state's premier tourist attraction on the Bengal coast. However, it seems that the former glory of Mamallapooram, as a quiet, cozy, calm place, has remained in the past. Even though all guidebooks talk about the abundance of seafood and good cuisine, the local gastronomic tradition seems to have fallen into complete decline.
Mamallapooram is now a couple of streets of shops, hotels, and restaurants, surrounded by many ancient monuments. In Mamallapooram, the hammers of stone carvers can be heard on the streets all day. You can buy carved stone products directly from the master on every corner. For a small fee, you can sit nearby and try your hand at this craft. Unfortunately, most of the things here in the stone-cutting shops are of the same type, like nesting dolls on the Arbat. To find something worthwhile, you need to make your way to the southern outskirts of the village, where artisans work, working not for tourists but for locals. The choice and prices here will be much more enjoyable.
The architecture and craftsmanship are the most important in Mahabalipuram, spread over a radius of about five km on the sea coast. We could not live without being impressed by the calm and lively atmosphere of the area. The temples here are beautiful specimens of architecture that have been battling sea winds for centuries. UNESCO has declared them as World Heritage. We were restless to see this aristocracy.
English archaeologists discovered this unique art world. The temples of Mamallapuram are built in three styles of monolithic crafts. In the first category, there are temples made by cutting rocks in the form of a cave. In these, sculptures have also been carved on the walls inside. In the second category, rocks have been cut and carved and given a pavilion-like appearance. Whereas in the third category, the same rock was cut and carved from a height to give the form of a beautiful temple. Excavating hard rocks and molding them into the shape of temples was a new experiment. The message inscribed by Mahendra Varman in an inscription on a cave temple is worth noting in this context. Brick, mortar, wood, and metal are not used in constructing these temples. How difficult it must have been to give an attractive appearance to the hard boulders scattered in the coastal area by cutting and carving them with chisel-hammer-like tools can be estimated only by looking at them. In Mamallapooram, you can stay for a few days. Here, quite a pleasant and relaxed European audience, very friendly Kashmiris in the shops, and there are no pestering and beggars. But, by and large, two or three days will be enough for Mamallapooram.
You can get around all the city's main attractions in a whole day, but if you stay in Mamallapooram for a longer time, stretch the pleasure for several days. In general, here are the main attractions of the town:
Among the places of interest in Mahabalipuram, the Pancha Ratha Temple is a rock-cut temple built by the Pallavas in the late 7th century. Introduction to the Ratha Temple at Mahabalipuram these five chariots are named after the Pandavas and other characters from the Mahabharata. Draupadi Ratha, Dharma raja Ratha, and other Pancha Rathas are included. Panch Rath Temple has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage. Among all these cave temples, Dharmaraja Ratha is the largest multi-storeyed temple, and Draupadi Ratha is the smallest. The hut-shaped Draupadi chariot is the first chariot located at the entrance and is dedicated to Goddess Durga. There is an attractive lion carving on the pillars of the Bhima Rat Temple. In comparison, beautiful carvings of elephants are seen on the Nakula-Sahdev chariot, which is dedicated to Devraj Indra. The enormous chariot among all is that of Dharmaraja and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Shore Temple or Temple of the Coast is located on the shores of the sea. Pyramid-shaped and dedicated to the god's Shiva and Vishnu, this temple produced different feelings in us; while it seemed unremarkable to me, Toni thought it was photogenic and was entertained by every detail by taking non-stop photos. Shore Temple is the main attraction of this place that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, situated on the Bay of Bengal along with the entrance from the western side of the sea. It is one of the most impressive World Heritage Sites as well as one of the prehistoric rock-cut temples across the country. It is known for its beautiful craftsmanship, graceful motifs, and intricate carvings. The architectural design of this Shore temple is beautiful. There are many activities to do in Mamallapooram as you can enjoy the architectural experience of this temple and increase your knowledge, as well as feel proud of your country!
Tiger Cave is located north of Mamallapooram near Salurankupam village. The carvings in Tiger Cave represent an incident that happened in the life of Goddess Durga. This Mamallapooram cave is known today as a great picnic spot. Eleven imposing carved lion heads above the entrance to the rock cave give Tiger Cave its name. This cave, also belonging to the Pavalla period and built in the 8th century, is among the most interesting in Mamallapooram. A few years ago, they revealed a new inscription that led to discovering a new find in the area. It is a little separated from the rest of the carved rocks, but it is well worth visiting and perhaps imitating the locals, who come here for a picnic.
Mamallapooram Beach is divided into two parts by the Shore Temple. Northern - European. Here, the balconies of hotels and restaurants come ashore, merchants of beads and rags walk around, and middle-aged Europeans sluggishly loiter among fishing boats. South is Indian. Noisy and stormy. Pilgrims in black lungi and red saris crowd here, and children ride horses, ice-cream bells ring, and oracles with parrots in cages sit under umbrellas. Indian tourists come here to swim to see the sights of Mamallapooram. Behind the Indian beach, far to the south, there is a broad, endless desert strip of sand, and in the distance, on the horizon, one can see the snow-white dome of the nuclear power plant at Kundakulam. These beaches are popular among tourists for beach activities like sunbathing, diving, windsurfing, and motor boating. The North Beach stretches along a line of hotels and then along endless fences that fence off sold the land. As soon as the chain of hotels ends, mountains of garbage begin on the beach. Near the cape on which the Coastal Temple is located, the beach is more or less picturesque. Small lakes in the sand; fishing boats stand on the shore. Near the cape itself, there is a rock in which there is an artificial cave at the height of about two meters above the water.
Krishna's Butter Ball is a curious thing to see. It consists of a rock with a diameter of approximately 5 meters and weighing 250 tons. The curious thing is that it is located on a ramp and is immovable. Nobody has been able to modify its location, neither man, earthquakes, nor any other natural catastrophe.
Thiruklukundaram Temple is a must-visit place in Mahabalipuram, situated on top of a hill. This scenic temple is situated at a distance of 15 km to the west of Mahabalipuram. The main deities of the Thirukalukundram temple are Arulmighu Vedagireshwara and Arulmighu Thirumalaiyuldayar.
From the point of view of excursion, the stone crafts of Mamallapuram are broadly in three directions. First, we went to see the temple situated on the hill. There are eight cave temples in these. These cave temples situated on the hills are known by the names Koneri Mandapam, Varaha Mandapam, Mahishamardini Mandapam, Adivaraha Cave Temple, Ramanuja Mandapam etc. Worship is also held in Trimurti cave and Adivaraha temple. Stairs have been made to reach the cave temples situated on the hill. There is a lighthouse on a hill. Some distance away from the cave temples is the Panchapandava Mandapam. Of these, Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhima, and Dharmaraja's chariots are in a row. These chariots are facing west. The craftsmanship of these chariots made from one to three stories is worth watching closely. Traveling on the sand spread around the chariots, the tourists were looking desperate to capture their form in cameras from every direction. Because from every direction, while carving a boulder in the middle of the central hill, Ganesh Rath has been made. At some distance from it is the Pidari Rath. This village is dedicated to the goddess. Almost all the pavilions are built in a few different styles. Beautiful sculptures are visible on their pilasters.
The restaurant Mahabalipuram serves you a variety of cuisines. The colors and spices of street food, an elaborate, traditional, and authentic thali, and a long list of western dishes. You can also have a typical South Indian thali here. In which you will find Idli, Dosa, Appam, Vada, Upma Sambar, Sweet Pongal, Kesari, Payasam, and many more.
Mamallapooram is the most unique, extraordinary, and historically rich place. Worth a visit if you come to India. Here you can see the ancient culture of India, from which you will be delighted, as well as many historical monuments, which, fortunately, have survived to this day.
Attesting to the fact that it is a fishing village, dozens of colorful boats flood a beach that, despite not being the most desired place to take a bath given the state of the sand and the wind, is pleasant for a walk if you manage to avoid the many sellers of necklaces and other jewelry, of course.
This small temple carved into rock shows us the "trinity" of Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the most crucial sanctuary being the one dedicated to Shiva. Trimurti Cave is an actual example of Pavalla architecture, but it is unclear which ruler built this cave. Some small steps lead us to its interior, where we will observe the carvings in detail. The back has a relief with, once again, beautiful elephants and other animals.
Ganesh or Ganesha Ratha is one of the most striking chariot-shaped temples in the entire complex of monuments. Entirely carved out of stone, following Pavalla architecture, it was built in the 7th century and was initially dedicated to Shiva. The upper part has a three-story stepped tower with sculptures of guardians and some other shapes, such as horseshoe-shaped windows. Some of them are not carved in much detail.
About 4km from Shore Temple, we find Varaha Cave Temple or Varaha Mandapa, probably named for its most striking sculpture, that of Vishnu in the form of Varaha (serpent) raising mother earth Bhumi. This temple is carved in rock and with decorated columns supported by lions. The cave is not located next to the best-known Mamallapuram, and they say it is one of the oldest sculptures in the area.
If we have an extra day in Mamallapuram and want to see something different, we can always go to the shell museum, the India Seashell Museum. They say it is one of the largest in India and were born from the dream of its founder after starting to collect unique seashells.
Proof of this is the area near the beach where there are plenty of more or less cheap hostels, restaurants and bars, and souvenir shops where you can renew your travel wardrobe, turning the place into a tourist attraction in itself.
In this coastal town, we will find numerous establishments where they do massages. Many hotels or resorts, depending on our budgets, have spas. You have to look closely at the posters and decide which will be the one that gives us the most confidence.
Although one day is more than enough to see the sculptures carved in stone if you have the time, it is not a bad idea to stay a couple more days and quietly enjoy all that Mamallapooram has to offer between chais, masalas, and yoga classes.
As it was written on the Net, there are many workshops for making stone sculptures in Mamalla: from small elephants to giant deities’ one and a half human height. It would probably be possible to still bargain, but it seemed to us an acceptable price, and the seller was pleased. Stone souvenirs are sold throughout the village, but their most extensive selection and best prices are on the street, stretching from 5 chariots on the way to the lighthouse. In the future, similar stone souvenirs were found throughout India, but at times more expensive, so if your path takes you to Mamallapooram, do not forget to spend rupees on a stone elephant.
You can visit Mamallapooram at any time of the year but the best time to visit here is between Novembers to February, as the weather is favorable for traveling during this time.
You can choose between flight, train, and bus to reach Mamallapooram tourist place. There are all types of options available to reach this scenic spot.
By Flight –
If you have chosen the air route to travel to Mahabalipuram, then let us tell you that there is no direct flight service to Mamallapooram. The nearest airport to Mamallapooram is Chennai Airport, located at a distance of about 40 km.
By Train –
If you have chosen the railway route, let us tell you there is no direct train service to Mamallapooram. But the Egmore railway station is the nearest railway station in the city of Chennai. From the railway station, you have the option to hire a taxi.
By Bus –
If you want to visit by bus, then let us tell you that Mahabalipuram is very well connected to all the nearby cities via road. You will quickly reach Mahabalipuram via bus or taxi from the Chennai route.
Mamallapooram, south of Chennai, was the main seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based in Kanchipuram. No wonder tourists and pilgrims from all over the world come here. For the city's residents, these are not just historical values, such as museums, but actual religious temples, which they treat with great respect. For example, temples in the rocks are called Rata, as they resemble chariots. By the way, they can be seen during the holidays. All Rathas are carved from a monolith. This whole complex can be called a masterpiece of medieval Indian culture, which has survived to this day. The city's population is hospitable to tourists and is always ready to offer their services, whether it is hotel staff or just those stone masters from whom you can buy souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones. A trip to Mamallapooram will be excellent and informative in any case, as many attractions will not leave you indifferent.
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