Mamallapuram, but fondly addressed as Mahabalipuram, is a historic town in Tamil Naidu. Located 60 KM from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a breezy drive away on the East Coast Road. Being the port city during the Pallavas in the 7th century, situated on the Coromandel coast, life in the town is Locals Only. Slang it as Mahabs.
Me & my photographer guide (passion reborn) wander around the following must visit places in Mahabalipuram in scorching heat in the historic town in Kanchipuram district.
O, I forgot my camera here! Pictures are poor and real. If you know what I mean. Laugh!
The life of Mahabalipuram, the majestic two-towered temple overlooking the fine line of the Bay of Bengal & the sky left to the imagination- shapes upon shapes. A sweaty affair at the sea shore.
Named, for it is located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, the tall beauty was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The Shore Temple was intensified with granite stones (one of the oldest stone structure in South India) in the 8th century at the busy port during Pallava Dynasty. A magnificent chapter from the history.
The portmanteau shrines Kshatriya Sinhesvara (East) and Rajasimhesvara (West) collectively known as The Shore Temple. The reclining statue of Lord Vishu between the two shrines is a sight to behold. Passage is narrow though. Identified as one of the Seven Pagodas, The Shore Temple is being affected by the salty winds. Head ere you see heaps of salt and melted ruins. Haha!
We didn’t carry our sippers and were dehydrated over here. To our rescue, I asked a school boy loitering in the temple to help us quench our deadly thirst. Oh, the people here warm-hearted.
Entry fee is INR 10 for Indian Nationals and INR 250 for Foreign Nationals; it includes an entry ticket to Panch Rathas as well. The temple is open all days of the week from 6 AM to 6 PM.
As we (Tamil guide not to be forgotten) were sinking into the imprints of long fought wars and the mystical gods, a modern blast from the past, we were unfolded to the Panch Rathas, a sheer exaggeration.
The heritage Panch Rathas (Five Chariots) is a fine instance of monolithic rock –cut architecture. Each of the five monuments is carved out of a single stone of granite and named after the five Pandavas and their wife from The Great Indian Epic- Mahabharata. Neatly carved & conveniently placed Elephant stone is where you should be captured.
The archaeological wonders have no connection to Pandavas. No strings attached. Neither any religious significance. Human and animal in a frame or a half man and woman the other half. I was perplexed at the complexity of the mindset. Kehna kya chahte ho..... (what you wish to convey).
Unfinished and coastal beauty, I head to Panch Rathas to be captured in a painting.
Overlooking the new Mamallapuram Lighthouse, The Cave Temple holds my notorious narration. How I climbed those tough rocks in my torn shoes with the aid of my local Tam guide and entered from nowhere. We didn’t buy the tickets and were up for an adventure. Life Mein Ek Baar
Picturesque, panoramic view from archaic Olikaneeswara Temple Light House of the historic city and the white swirls kissing the sky. Climb a few steps and invade the contrast. Doors are close, look at the new Lighthouse from here. Spend some time at the top to be filled with the chilled breeze and tranquility.
Arjuna Penance & Krishna’s Butter Ball
Left or right, where ever you look, it’s either a rock formation or a local craft shop. So, we spotted them and oh, here they’re. Mahabalipuram is a surprise if you wander unplan. Arjuna Penance & descent of the Ganges are the intricately carved narrations on the monolithic structure. It depicts the descent of The supernatural Ganges from the heaven to earth. Carved out gods, nature, human figures and animals on the stones.
Hold it! Hold it tight! It may fall. And it doesn’t. Krishna’s Butter Ball is a challenge to the gravitational force. Damn it! Don’t mess with me.
No entry charges | located on the main street
Beach & Surf School
Less swarmed and can be mistakenly visited as a Parikrama to The Shore Temple. What I really absorbed here is the beauty of the sky against the waves. Slowly and gently the flow melting in the crimson sky. Ah the horizon! It’s a perfect setting for all the couples who hang out here, looking for that ideal romantic escape. I am no kidding. During the evening, you might spot them behind the trees or boats. A historic, yet romantic affair.
Though I didn’t visit Mumu Surf School as it was monsoon, but it is definitely worth an inquiry (provided you like the thrill) admiring the beauty & laidback nature of a small town in India.
Lil moments of happiness
Pleasure may burst & live a moment of happiness, as you purchase those small antiques & postcards of Mahabs and help a warm-hearted local. I had my moment. Where was my guide to capture it? Lol! Don’t forget to try butter milk at The Cave Temple. These duo serves delicious dry mango with masala and chilled butter milk.
As you don’t forget to gaze at the bas-relief, so as to visit a local shop near the beach for a local masala chai. I had my morning chai here, served with a warm smile by this lady owner and I loved it.
Mahabalipuram is also famous for sculptures and carvings on sea shells. Every nook and corner, we find artists carving on stones, wood and even sea shells or antique replicas at local shops. Roaming around in the streets here is a sheer bliss & utopia for artists and art admirer.
Don’t bargain, and appreciate the efforts & ecstasy of these artists and their rare art.
Since I didn’t accommodate myself here overnight, I can’t recommend where to stay. But there are several guest houses and luxury hotels in the town, being a popular tourist destination in South India. Search on Tripadvisor.
The frequency of buses from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is great. It takes around 02 hours to reach Mahabalipuram. The nearest airport is Chennai International Airport. Recommended to hire a four wheeler or bike to experience the thrill of East Coast Road.
Archaeological wonder, Manabalipuram is for everyone- History Buff, Beach Bummer, Architect Inspiration, Photographer, Laidback Traveler or A Secret Couple
Explore by bicycle or on foot. Get your butt out and soak in the beauty of heritage.