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Mahabalipuram India, Mahabalipuram Tourism, Mahabalipuram City, Mahabalipuram Travel, Travel to India.

Mahabalipuram City

MahabalipuramWorld famous for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram, was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. 58 kilometres from Madras, situated on the Bay of Bengal, this tiny seaside village is set in a boulder-strewn landscape. Tourists are drawn to this place by its miles of unspoiled beach and rock-cut art. The sculpture of this place is particularly interesting, because it shows scenes of day-to- day life, in contrast to the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu, where carvings generally depict gods and goddesses.

Mahabalipuram art is divided into four categories: open air bas-reliefs, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas ('chariots' carved from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna's Penance and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen manmade caves in different stages of completion are also seen scattered through the area. Mahabalipuram with its picturesque location on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon is a happy combination of history, good beaches, hassle-free tourism and fabulous fish and lobster. Despite the many visitors, drawn by the former Pallava dynasty town, the place is friendly, relaxed, and the villagers are remarkably unperturbed by their crowds of visitors.

Location: In Tamil Nadu, India.
Significance: An open art museum of sculpture.
Climate: The climate of Mahabalipuram remains hot and sultry throughout the year with a maximum temperature of 35oC and a minimum of 19oC. The region experiences heavy rainfalls during monsoons.

Shopping Attractions
Mahabalipuram has kept alive and, to a great extent, revived the ancient art of stonemasons and sculptures including deities for temples and other forms for restoration works. These images and statues are available at several handicraft emporia scattered around the city. Some marvelously carved images of Hindu gods in soapstone or on wood are popular buys along with jewellery and decorative items made from seashells.

Prime Attractions

Arjuna's Penance
Arjuna's Penance, a colossal and massive relief made on two huge boulders, is the universe itself in stone. 27 metres long and 9 metres high, it is perhaps the world's largest bas-relief. The cleft in the rock depicts the descent of the Ganga, brought to earth by King Bhagiratha to redeem the cursed souls of his ancestors. The two large elephants are remarkable for their artistry, and so are the scenes from the Panchatantra. There is a forest with tribal people and all forms of animal life, just as they would appear in their habitat. Women are clothed in an aura of ineffable grace, a rich inner beauty transfiguring the plainest of them. The whole scene has a delicate edge of humor. Juxtaposed against the ascetic is a cat doing rigorous penance too.

The Varaha Cave, a small rock-cut mandapam (hall), is a faceted and finished gem with two incarnations of Vishnu-Varaha (boar) and Vamana (dwarf). Particularly noteworthy here are four panels of the famous Pallava doorkeepers. There is about them a mood of contemplative reverie, a lyrical softness and subtle grace totally at variance with the primordial machismo their role as guards of the gods imposes on them. The Mahisasurmardini Cave (mid-seventh century) has fine bas-reliefs on its panels of enduring beauty. The Dharmaraja Cave, built in the early seventh century, contains three empty shrines. The Somaskanda sculpture radiates peace, power, and wisdom while Lord Vishnu is shown in omniscient repose in a masterpiece of dhwani (the art of suggestion). On the opposite side is a huge theatrical panel showing, Goddess Durga's fight with the demon Mahishasura, an episode culled from the celebrated Sanskrit poem Devi Mahatmya. About 5 km north of Mahabalipuram is another cave called Tiger Cave, a rock-cut shrine possibly dating back to 7th century.

A group of structures lying at the southern extreme of Mahabalipuram, amidst casuarina trees, are the famous Rathas (chariots). The Pancha Pandava Rathas, as they are called, are five in number. Out of these, four are carved out of a single rock, while the fifth on the west is scooped out from a small rock. The square Draupadi and Arjuna Rathas, the linear Bhima Ratha, the taller Dharamraja Ratha and the apsidal Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha, constitute the complex.

Krishna Mandapam
The Krishna Temple is one of the earliest rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram. The walls of the temples depict scenes of pastoral life, one with the image of Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill in his fingertips to protect his people from Indra.

Shore Temple
Shore Temple - MahabalipuramThe windswept and surf-beaten Shore Temple, the mute tireless sentinel of the shore, is the ultimate expression of Mahabalipuram. A three-in-one abode of God-a Vishnu temple positioned between two Shiva temples, is a visual delight with its precincts abounding in architectural masterpieces. On either side of it the sea spreads, illimitable and infinite. The compound wall of this temple is lined with charming sculptures of Nandi the bull while the figure of Vishnu is present in the sanctum sanctorum.

Mahabalipuram Dance Festival:
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is an occasion for the dance lovers to enjoy the performances of the artists from all parts of the country. The festival is celebrated in the month of January/February every year. The Shore Temple forms the backdrop of this festival and the music from the musical instruments mixes with the natural music of wind and the sea. The Mahabalipuram Dance festival is an occasion when artists from all over the country come together to perform.

How To Reach

By Air: The nearest airport from Mahabalipuram is Chennai, 60 km away, which ahs both domestic and international airports.
By Train: The nearest railway station, Chengalpattu, is around 29 km away from Mahabalipuram. Trains connect it to and from Chennai and several other major cities of South India.
By Road: Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is well connected by roads to Chennai, Tirukkalikundram or Pakshithirtham, Kanchipuram, which is 65 km from here and and Pondicherry.

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