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                                                                                                          HOME >> PLACES TO SEE >> PILGRIMAGES >> MAHABALIPURAM
 

Though it is no longer a port, Mamallapuram has retained its fame in stone, thanks to the great contribution of Pallava artisans. It is among the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture and a jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu. In a land that is liberally strewn with some of the best in temple art, Mamallapuram holds its own and stands as a silent yet eloquent witness to the glory of its creators. Unfortunately, most of the work was left incomplete and time and nature have also eroded the remains of this once great port.

Yet, Mamallapuram's wonders in rock leave visitors enthralled, conveying as they do, an impression of beauty and harmony. The monuments are floodlit at night and so it is possible to enjoy their beauty even after sunset. The Mamallapuram dance festival is conducted every year during Dec-Jan. It is a month long festival and dances take place during the weekends. Classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Odissi, Kathak etc., are performed by well-known exponents of the art.

 
General Information

Area

8 sq. km.

Altitude

Sea level

Population

12,000

Climate

Max.

Min.

Summer

36.6°c

21.1°c

Winter

30.5°c

19.8°c

Rainfall

32.5 cm average

Clothing

Tropical

Season

Throughout the year

Languages spoken

Tamil and English

STD Code

04114

Places of Tourist Interest

Caves
: There are nine rock-cut cave temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, contrasting the goddess fighting a demon on one side and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one.

Krishna Mandapam: This cave has a big bas-relief, notable for its realistic representation. The panel relates one of the stories of Lord Krishna.

Five Rathas: These rock-cut temples are rated as excellent examples of Pallava art. Shaped in different styles, the five structures are named after the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata and Draupadi. These are monolithic temples, each created in a different style. They are also known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas and the four of the Rathas are supposed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation.

Arjuna's Penance: The world's largest bas-relief measuring 27m x 9m is the pride of Mamallapuram. This huge whale-back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts and birds and in fact, can be said to represent creation itself. 

The Shore Temple: This is one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th century AD. and is a good example of the first phase of the structure of temples constructed in the Dravidian style.

Other Interesting Monuments: The Ganesha Ratha, the Varaha Cave, the Old Light House, Krishna's Butter Ball, Gopi's Churn, Valayankuttai Ratha, Kodikal Mandapam, are some of the other monuments that catch a person’s interest.

Varaha Cave: This is a small rock-cut mandapam featuring four panels of fine looking door-keepers and four interesting bas-relief.

Krishna's Butter Ball: The huge boulder near the Ganesha Ratha is popularly known as Krishna's butterball. It rests precariously on a narrow rock base. It is believed that several Pallava kings have attempted to move the stone, but legend is that neither the kings nor their elephants could shift the boulder even by an inch.

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