Skip Navigation

Mahabalipuram

Travel Guide Asia India Tamil Nadu Mahabalipuram

edit

Introduction

Krishna's Butter Ball

Krishna's Butter Ball

© All Rights Reserved Budai

Also known as Mamallapuram, Mahabalipuram is a coastal town in eastern Tamil Nadu famous for its lengthy stone-carving tradition. Between the fifth and ninth centuries AD, during the Pallava dynasty, it was a major port though there is little evidence of seafaring bustle now. Instead, its fame has arisen from its granite monuments that were carved during the latter half of the Pallava period. Collectively, these monuments have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. This stone-carving custom is still going strong today, with sculptors providing a soundtrack of chip-chip-chipping throughout the town.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

  • The Shore Temple is unlike most of Mahabalipuram's monuments in that it was built from stone rather than carved from solid rock, and it is considered to be the oldest temple of this type in south India. The scenic shoreline has exposed the temple to the ravages of the elements for over a millenium, with the result that much of its surface detail has been smoothed, however it is still an iconic Indian image. A ticket (R10/250 for Indians/non-Indians) also includes the Pancha Pandava rathas, if visited on the same day.
  • Arjuna's Penance (also known as Bhagiratha's Penance or the Descent of the Ganges) The scene depicted on this large and lively bas-relief is still under debate - it is believed to show either the story of the Ganges' descent from the sky, as requested by Bhagiratha after a thousand years of penance, or the tale of Arjuna doing penance in order to acquire one of Shiva's magic weapons. Whatever the truth, the bas-relief is exceptionally detailed. Look out for the cat mimicking both the pose and the skinniness of the Arjuna/Bhagiratha figure.
  • The Pancha Pandava rathas (also known as the Five Rathas) are five exquisitely-carved temples hewn from pink granite in the seventh century AD. Their design was based on existing wooden architecture, as can be seen from the timber and beam details visible in the rock. They were constructed from top to bottom, to avoid the risk of damaging the lower sections. Dotted amongst the rathas (literally chariots) are carvings of animals, such as an elephant and a lion. Note that the ratha nearest the elephant has a rounded end, the Sanskrit architectural term for which is "elephant's backside". A ticket (R10/250 for Indians/non-Indians) also includes the Shore Temple, if visited on the same day.
  • The Krishna Mandapa is the largest cave temple in Mahabalipuram. The main bas-relief inside depicts Krishna raising Mount Govardhan with his little finger in order to protect his people from the rain. Other carvings show his life as a cowherd.
  • Krishna's Butter Ball is a large, round rock perched precariously on a slope.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Train

The closest train stations are Chengalpattu (29 kilometres) and Chennai (aka Madras) (58 kilometres).

By Car

A taxi from Chennai (aka Madras) will take 1-1.5 hours and cost about Rs600 (Feb 2006).

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Foot

Mahabalipuram is small enough that all its sights are accessible on foot.

Top

edit

Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hotel Mamalla HeritageNo. 104 East Raja StreetHotel76
Chariot Beach ResortFive Rathas Road, Near Five Rathas MonumentsHotel-

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost 50rs to 200rs. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

Contributors

Help contribute to this article to share the ad revenue.

Mahabalipuram Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Mahabalipuram

This is version 7. Last edited at 10:49 on Feb 2, 12 by sleepBot. No articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License