10 marvellous places to visit in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is the most beautiful and the most preferred tourist destination in south India. There are more than a dozen historically significant as well as fun zones to explore in Mahabalipuram. And the best part is you can visit these places all year round. Be prepared to stay in Mahabalipuram for 2 to 3 days because it is impossible to see all the arts and exhibits in a single day. Here is a list of 10 marvellous places to visit in Mahabalipuram.
10 marvellous places to visit in Mahabalipuram
1. Mahabalipuram Beach
You can indulge in a lot of fun activities on Mahabalipuram Beach like wind surfing, diving and motor boating. The pristine beach is 20 km long and located at a distance of 58 km south of Chennai. The best time to visit the beach is between November and February. Besides enjoying all the regular beach activities you can also visit various monuments, and rock-cut temples near the beach. It is frequented by tourists from all over the country who stays at the many resorts nearby.
2. Shore Temple
The Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by the Pallavas and dates back to 8th century AD. It got its name as it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. Its unique feature is that it is dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. There are three shines built using blocks of granite, and features the Dravidian style of architecture. The architectural beauty of the temple is truly fascinating. Beautifully embellished motifs and complex sculptures adorn the temple. It is one of the oldest five-storeyed structural temples in South India, and is built in pyramid style – standing tall at 60 ft on a 50 ft square platform.
Visit Dakshinachitra to get to know more about the art and culture of south India. It is a heritage village where you get to see the heritage homes of not just Tamil Nadu, but Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. There is a collection of 18 authentic historical houses with related exhibitions in each house. Dakshinachitra is located overlooking the Bay of Bengal, at Muttukadu, and was developed as a model village representing the 19th century era.
4. Pancha Rathas
Pancha Rathas, a rock-cut temple built in the late 7th century by the Pallavas, is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Pancha Rathas or Five Chariots were carved out from monolithic rocks and are named after the Pandavas and other characters from Mahabharata. The largest multi-storeyed temple among the five is Dharmaraja Ratha and the smallest is the Draupadi Ratha. It is shaped like a hut and is dedicated to goddess Durga. Each has its own significance. Arjuna ratha is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and has carved pillar stones. The Bhima ratha temple pillars sport lion carvings, while Nakula-Sahadeva ratha has huge elephant carvings. The tallest among all is Dharmaraja Yudhisthira ratha, which is devoted to Lord Shiva. The site was excavated almost 200 years ago by the British.
5. Arjuna’s Penance
The most popular 7th and 8th century stone carving at Mahabalipuram is the Arjuna’s Penance, named after Arjuna of Mahabharatha fame. It is a wonderful relief – 30 m long and 15 m high. It is so huge that a person standing in front of it could hardly touch the feet of the elephant. The carving has figures of semi divine creatures, Gods, beasts, birds and animals.
6. Tiger Cave
Tiger Cave is situated near the coastal villages of Saluvankuppam, which is just 5 km to the north of Mahabalipuram. It is a popular picnic spot and tourist attraction. The temple was built in the 8th century by the Pallavas and has a stunning mandap that comprises a shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga. The mouth of the cave is quite stunning as massive tiger heads adorn it.
7. Mahishamardini cave
Mahishamardini Cave, dedicated to mother goddess, was built in the 7th century by the Pallavas. It is a monolithic sculpture located in the Chingleput District of Mahabalipuram. You will find figures of Murugan, Shiva and Parvati carved in the centre of the cave. One of the sculptures represents Lord Vishnu, sleeping on serpent and surrounded by gods. Another carving shows Goddess Durga killing the buffalo-headed demon. You will also find the battle scene of the goddess killing the demon Mahishasur.
8. Sculpture museum
Sculpture Museum is located just 1 km away from Mahabalipuram bus stand. It has more than 3,000 sculptures of gods and goddesses. These are monolithic statues, the Rathas (chariots), sculptured relief and their miniature can be seen in the museum. You can also see Buddhist sculptures along with Hindu mythological sculptures. The museum is open on all days from 10 am to 5 pm.
9. Crocodile Park
The Crocodile Bank, situated 14 km away from Mahabalipuram, is one of the largest reptile zoos in the world. It was established in 1976 by Romulus Whitaker, a herpetologist. You will find different species of African and Indian alligators and crocodiles here. They’re kept in pools, which are open and made in such a way that it looks like a natural habitat.
1o. Trimurti Cave Temple
The Trimurti Cave Temple is a 7th century ancient rock-cut temple built on a cliff, which is 100 ft high. It is located in the same park near the Arjuna’s Penance carving and is dedicated to Bhrama -the creator, Vishnu -the preserver and Shiva -the destroyer. You can also visit a rock-cut zoo near the temple, which has sculptures of elephant and other animals.
Author Bio :
This article is written by Manu Vipin, a journalist and travel writer, for INDeco Hotels, the leading heritage hotels & resorts in Mahabalipuram.