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Mamallapuram (mahabalipuram) Travel Guide

Discussion in 'Destination Guides' started by ChaiNashta, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. ChaiNashta

    ChaiNashta Active Member

    Mammalapuram (Mahabalipuram) is ancient town in Tamil Nadu State. This historic town was busy seaport in 1st Century to 140 Century CE. When ancient traders need to visit South East Asia countries, they used to travel by water from Mahabalipuram. From 7th Century, it became empire of Pallavas and sanctuaries such as Rathas, Mandapas, Shore Temple, Descent of Ganges and sculptures were carved alongside the famous Coromandel Coast. Now these monuments are included in World Heritage Site UNESCO.

    Mammalapuram is just 60 km away from worth visiting place Chennai. In British Raj, it was re-established as a seaside legacy. Now it is one of the most visited towns that attract sightseers from all over the world. Town is developed so tourists can easily find resorts, restaurants and amusement parks. While visiting monuments in this historical town, get ready to meet snake charmers, gypsies and guides all the way.

    Mahabalipuram is center of attraction due to amazing stone cravings, mandapas, bas reliefs, and superb temples. It is included among ten most visited towns by foreign tourists. It is an ideal location where tourists prefer to stay some days to see monuments and enjoy water activities near white sand beach.

    Attractions in Mammalapuram

    • Five Rathas
    First glance on Five Rathas gives an impression as if these are building. In fact, these are engraved from rocks. Marvelous work of 7th century was dedicated to god; later on the names were given after five brothers of Mahabharata epic. From centuries, these Rathas were out of sight and taken out from sand 200 years ago by British. In Sanskrit language, the word Ratha is used for chariot. It is considered that these temples were the gods’ vehicles. Tourists appreciate these amazing rathas and sculptures of animals.

    • Shore Temple
    Just like Five Rathas, it is an oldest temple that was constructed in 700 AD. More than 1400 years have been passed but this temple has maintained its artistic looks. It is not rock engraved temple. Cyclone and extreme weather effects have damaged Shore Temple but its antiquity does not let tourists to ignore this points.

    • Dakshinachitra
    Craft village, named as Dakshinachitra (close to Mammalapuram) is another great attraction for overseas tourists. Heritage model homes are developed to show 19th century culture of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    • Thirukadalmallai
    There are 108 temples that are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Thirukadalmallai is one of these temples designed in 8th century BC. Pallava King gave order to build a temple that could protect sculptures from sea. Design of temple is similar to Dravidian Pallava way.

    • Sculpture Museum
    While visiting Mammalapuram, you can find hundreds of stone sculptures, rock engraves and wood sculptures in museum. There are above 3,000 sculptures of Indian gods and goddesses in this museum. Monolithic statues describe the time in power of Gupta Empire. Side by side Hindu sculptures; there are many Buddhist sculptures as well.

    • Descent of the Ganges
    Descent of the Ganges is familiar as Arjuna’s Penance. Basically, it is huge bas-relief along with family of monkeys as well as elephants. Archaeologists are interested to know in detail about bas relief.

    • Krishna’s Butterball
    It is gigantic rock hanging on hillside that does not obey Physics laws. It is situated on hill slopes in 45 degrees angles. It is the place that cannot be overlooked. Majority of sightseers love to take photographs by putting hands under the giant rock to show as if they are holding the giant stone. Many visitors sit under the shadow of this rock and try to find out the reasons of perched rock.

    • Caves & Carvings
    Mahishamardini Cave shows statues of Murugan, Parvat and Shiva. On the other hand, Varaha Cave has remarkable carvings of Durga, Trivikama, Gahalakshmi and Vishnu. Carved sculptures were developed to pay homage to Hindu deities. Some of the famous cave temples are Krishna, Trimurti, Tiger, Panchapandava, Atiranachanda and Kotikal.

    • Mahabalipuram Light House
    First light from this lighthouse was spotted in the year 1887. Aside from modern lighthouse, there is oldest lighthouse, built by Pallava King in 640 AD. Lighthouse is made of stones in form of spherical masonry tower. It is more than a fun to visit modern and oldest lighthouse. Archaeological Survey of India is given responsibility to maintain historical lighthouse.

    • Arjuna’s Penance
    It is masterpiece of art work that is inscribed on adjoining boulders with Hindu myth images and life of South Indians. There is water filled fissure of snakes in the center. On the left side, self mortification of Arjuna to get commanding weapons from Shiva is an incredible art work. There is incomplete cave temple of Panch Pandava Mandapa near Arjuna’s Penance. In fact, each temple or craving has some historical connection with Hindus Lords. Guides give detail of Hindus beliefs and association of temple to develop interest of foreign tourists.

    • Trimurti Cave Temple
    In North of famous Ganesh Ratha, there is cave temple named as Trimurti. This temple was developed on the name of three gods Lord Brahama (Creator), Lord Shiva (Destroyer) and Lord Vishnu (Protector). There is specific part in temple for each of these lords.

    In addition to temples and monuments, Mandapas are also part of historic culture. These were designed in Pallava dynasty and adorned with motifs. Biggest Mandapam is associated with Lord Krishna whereas amazing sculptures represent courageous legends. Apart from Mandapas, there is rock cut temple Mahishasuramardini Mandapam. It shows warfare between Mahishasura demon and Durga goddess. These Mandapas are incredible architectural designs that portray spellbound effect on visitors.

    Things to Do in Mammalapuram

    Visiting Mammalapuram does not mean to visit different temples, monuments and caves. There are many fun activities for tourists to rejuvenate their energies.

    • Beach Side Activities
    Charm of town and captivating beach can mesmerize any visitor in seconds. White sand beach, amazing panorama of sun set and a lot of water activities never let tourists to go anywhere else. If you are exhausted and want to get relaxed, sunbathing is best option near this tranquil beach area. Beach area offers never-ending exciting options to make each and every moment full of fun. It is great fun to go for fishing or play games with children on beach. Huts are available near the beach area to get relaxed and enjoy night activities. There are music shows and dance party on white beach sand to amuse tourists.

    Coromandel Coast is visited to enjoy crashing waves and endless beauty. If you have an adventurous nature, surfing, motor boating, scuba diving and windsurfing are some of the best activities here. Tourists can get boards, surfing gears and ropes on rent to have some thrilling activities with friends.

    • Trekking & Bike Trips
    Though there are a lot of places to visit but trekking is perfect activity in the morning. Sunrise panorama behind trees and explore out of sight beauty of nature. Many bike trips are arranged in this town to challenge the adventure lovers.

    Festivals in Mammalapuram

    • Pongal Festival
    In January, festival of Pongal starts which attracts visitors from all over India. There is particular day when Hindus offer their prayers to Rain God and Sun God. Basically, Pongal festival is related to harvest. It is a way to show gratitude to God, cattle and earth.

    • Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
    There is Mahabalipuram Dance Festival in which folk as well as classical dances are performed. Artists from all parts of India come here to perform in open air stage. In this festival, Tamil Nadu dance Bharatanatyam, Kerala dance Kathakali and Andhra Pradesh dance Kuchipudi are performed to get appreciation from visitors.

    Learn Stone Craving

    If you have passion to learn something interesting and stimulating, Mammalapuram gives you opportunity to learn stone craving. Just five hours are required to learn simple locket craving. It depends on tourists to get training classes for a day or more to become skilled at craving stones. Foreign visitors appreciate sculpture art and visit local artists to view how they work. These sculptures are considered as best gifts and decoration items in house.

    Places to Eat

    In Mammalapuram, there is variety of food stands. Five star restaurants and food streets are in range to select food of your choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Othavadi Street is famous for standard restaurants where western food is delivered in sophisticated way. It is well said, “To do in Rome as the Romans do”. While staying in Tamil Nadu historical town, try to taste some of the local foods and drinks as well. Your first choice can be grilled fish, salad and French fries.

    • German Bakery (Breakfast Options)
    German Bakery is famous for a variety of breakfast options like toast, dark bread, fried potatoes, pasta, sandwiches and momos.

    • Nautilus (Indian French Food)
    Nautilus customers are served French food such as Crepe, Salads and seafood. There are many Indian foods as well. Fully decorated inside and outside table options are available.

    • Mamalla Bhavan
    As the name shows, it is traditional house where rice, vegetables, chapati, papad, Puri Masala Dosa and Idli many more are in list.

    • Blue Elephant Restaurant
    Blue Elephant has an extensive menu in form of non vegetarian and vegetarian options. Fresh food and variety of items give good value for your money.

    • Sunrise Restaurant (Sea Food)
    Wonderful sea food like fish, squids and prawns are hot favorite of foreign visitors. You will find a great number of customers in winter season here.

    • Surf
    Sea food lovers need to search no more as Surf is their final destination. This restaurant has all kinds of sea food items. It is good place for those who desire to change taste of tongue.

    Drink Options

    Mammalapuram's famous drink is coconut milk which can be purchased from hawkers. There are restaurants and night clubs where tourists are served coffee, juices, tea and beer. Masala Café, Drink & Dine, Monrakers, Gecko Café and Latitude 49 are some of the places where quality drinks are available.

    Best Season to Visit Mammalapuram

    While visiting a place, tourists need to spend a lot of money on transport expenditures, residence, food and shopping. To explore historical places, enjoying with family on beach and viewing splendid beauty, visitors select Mammalapuram. If you are travelling for the first time to Tamil Nadu town, you must be well aware of its weather.

    Summer season starts in Month of March and ends in May. During these months, temperature goes above 42 C, whereas lowest temperature in summer is 21 C. Visiting monuments, temples, caves and beach means to get exposed to sun that can affect on your health therefore it is suggested to avoid visiting Mammalapuram during these months.

    After summer season, Monsoon season starts in June and ends in September. Though it rains heavy in Monsoon season but excess of humidity does not let foreigners to enjoy this place or plan outdoor activities. Just like Chennai, best season to visit Mahabalipuram is winter. It starts from October and ends in month of March. During these months, climate is ideal for outdoor activities. During winter season, temperature remains within 15 C to 30 C. Pleasant climate, splendid views, cool nights and awesome days motivate tourists to spend maximum time in outdoor areas.

    Shopping in Mammalapuram

    Unlike Chennai, Mammalapuram does not have luxurious shopping malls where branded items are within access. Though there are many street shops and markets but sculptures, wood and stone craved items are favorite gift items here.

    • Mahabalipuram Markets
    You have spend time in exploring the marvels of historic heritage so it would be great to bring back some of the fine carvings and statues to remember your visit. In this regard, Mahabalipuram market, Southern Arts & Crafts, Little Art Gallery, Handicraft Emporium, Sky Blue Handicrafts, and Queen Arts Emporium are the best shopping places for all age groups. Apollo Books is another place where informative books in different languages attract visitors a lot.


    Finding desired accommodation in Mammalapuram is not difficult. Plenty of hotels and quality service keep tourists satisfied here. Note down your room options, amenities, location, dining option, budget and travel guide requirements and customize your search to find the best accommodation for your stay. Blue Breeze, Ishwarya, Baywatch and Ramakrishna are highly recommended hotels.