Mahabalipuram was earlier known as Mamallapuram. It is not a port anymore. I was amazed to see the great contributions of the Pallava artisans. I can very confidently say Mahabalipuram is a Jewel in the crown and it presents outstanding Dravidian art and architecture.
I loved the serenity prevailing all over Mahabalipuram. It is disturbed only when some visitors reveal their excitement by shouting in praises. It presents an eloquent witness of its creators. But, regrettably, most of the works are incomplete.
The rock wonders left me enthralled as they looked they were conveying the opulence of their beauty. I had a plan of just visiting for a day and returning, but God wished something else. Suddenly, it started raining and I had no other option and stayed overnight. The monuments are beautiful at night with floodlights. The beauty after sunset makes viewers speechless.
Mahabalipuram is located at about is 60 kilometers from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The main languages spoken are Tamil and English. It is popular for its Temples with Pallava arts and culture. The important festivals are in the December month. This is also known as the temple city located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
The Ideal Time to Visit
Mahabalipuram is hot all through the year. It is hot in summer and winter is also not very cold. The ideal time to visit is from October to March.
Fortunately, being the December-January month, the dance festivals took place on the weekends and are performed by well-known artists. All these dance forms are performed keeping the ancient stone temples as the main backdrop.
Places to Eat
This is an ideal paradise for seafood lovers. There are several restaurants offering fresh prawns, fish, crabs, and lobsters. There are vegetarian eateries as well, offering hygienic and simple meals. Restaurants are mostly dotted in the Othavadai Cross and Othavadai Street for tourists. In fact, you can get breakfast in the range of Rs.25-50 and dinner or lunch for Rs.75-150.
Places not to miss!
The fascinating places that are worth visiting include Shore Temple built with granite blocks. This temple is a masterpiece creating, representing the Pallava architecture zenith. It features a combination of a Vishnu temple built amidst two Shiva temples.
Arjuna’s Penance is made on two boulders. Ganesh Ratha is a temple resembling a Dravidian style chariot. The Trimurti cave temple has Lord Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma in individual sections. Five Rathas have the chariot shape. Tiger’s cave is an open-air theatre featuring cultural programs. This is a calm and serene place. Varaha Cave temple depicts the boar, Varaha, and holding the earth goddess, Bhudevi. Dharmaraja cave and Krishna’s Butterball is a natural giant rock that is precariously perched on a hillside and the way it appears balanced is astonishing.
How to Reach?
There is transport from the town of Mahabalipuram. You can get rented motorcycles and also buses. The bus fares range between Rs. 10 and 30. Taxis from Chennai may be around Rs 1000 and the rented motorbikes are from the rental agencies and they charge around Rs. 300-400, based on the motorcycle type you choose.
The shopping is excellent. Handmade crafts are the specialty. These are stone statues carved to look like the originals. These statues are in granite which enhances their beauty. I found soapstone images, jewelry, wood carvings, and local seashells items sold in the local shops. Stay away from the main road big shops and settle for small side road shops for a good bargain.
- Avoid visiting during the rains. The sea becomes rough.
- Carry suntan lotion if you plan sunbathing.
- Do not talk to strangers.
- Carry mosquito repellents