Tourist Places in Mahabalipuram India
Mahabalipuram ( Mammalapuram ) is an important tourist place of Tamil Nadu and is most famous for its spectacular monolithic structures. Some of the monuments in Mahabalipuram have also been recognized by the UNESCO and are must see for the tourists on their tour to Mahabalipuram. Besides, Mahabalipuram is quite popular for its sun – kissed beaches that are idyllic retreats for cooling off or taking long strolls in the evening. The tourist attractions in Mahabalipuram carry their individual significance and reflect the historic charm of this place.
Mahabalipuram is a beautiful temple town situated along the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The pure sculptural display of the rock – cut temples gave way to an entirely new style of architecture, which came to be known as the South Indian temple architecture. Find out more about the various tourist attractions that can be included in the sightseeing tours to the place.
Shore Temple, which dates back to 8th century AD, is a combination of three shrines. This temple also includes Vishnu temple, which is constructed in between two Shiva temples. Built using blocks of granite, the structure features Dravidian style, which is a beautiful creation by Pallavas and is situated on the seashore of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the oldest, five – storeyed Hindu structural temples in South India. This structural temple has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. More than a temple, it is considered as a form of display of art by the Pallavas. The temple is built in pyramid style standing 60 ft high and resting on a 50 ft square platform. Apart from the shrines of deities, the temple also incorporates beautiful artistic depiction.
Five Rathas is a rock – cut temple built in late 7th century by the Pallavas. These Five Rathas are named after the Pandavas and other characters of Mahabharata. Draupadi Ratha, Dharmaraja Ratha and others comprises the five rathas. UNESCO has classified this architectural work as a World Heritage Site. Dharmaraja Ratha is the largest multi – storeyed temple and Draupadi Ratha is the smallest among all these cave temples. Based on the Buddhist viharas and chaityas, these temples are carved out from one piece of huge rock.
Sculpture Museum in Mahabalipuram has approximately more than 3,000 collections of sculptures of gods and goddesses. These are monolithic statues depicting the reign of Gupta Empire, which are carved out from rocks. Buddhist sculptures are also present in this museum along with Hindu mythological sculptures. The sculptures of Hindu deities are made in wood, brass and cement. Some of the sculptures in the museum are made by the students of Mamallapuram College of Sculpting.
Arjuna’s Penance, 27 metres long and 9 metres high, is a gigantic relief made on two huge boulders and is perhaps the world’s largest bas-relief, a universe itself in stone. The cleft in the rock describes the descent of the Ganga, brought to earth by King Bhagiratha to emancipate the cursed souls of his ancestors.
Ganesh Ratha Temple in Mahabalipuram is located towards the north of the Arjuna’s Penance. It is a temple carved out from a rock to resemble a chariot and is built in Dravidian style. It was once dedicated to Lord Shiva. But when the original lingam was removed, the temple came to be known as the temple of Lord Ganesh.
Trimurti Cave Temple
Trimurti Cave Temple, Mahabalipuram is located towards the north of the Ganesh Ratha. This temple is dedicated to the three chief gods of Hindu pantheon, namely, Lord Brahma – the Creator, Lord Vishnu – the Protector and Lord Shiva – the Destroyer. There is a separate section in the temple for each of them.
These are the rock – cut temples in Mahabalipuram carved in the shape of a chariot and were built during the Pallava period. The five rathas are called the Draupadi Ratha, Dharamraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha and Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha, named after the five Pandavas and their wife of Mahabharata. The smallest and the simplest is the Draupadi ratha and the largest is the multi-storeyed Dharmaraja ratha scooped from a monolithic rock.
This cave is located just 4 km north of Mahabalipuram. It was built as an open-air theatre, where cultural programmes could have been held during the Pallava period. Though it is very near the sea, the place is very serene and calm.
Varaha Cave Temple
This is a small rock – cut mandapam dating back to the 7th century. Inside the temple side walls there are large sculptured panels depicting Vishnu as Varaha, the boar, holding up Bhudevi, the earth goddess.
Also known as the Atyantakama mandapam, this seventh century structure consists of three empty shrines. Past the mahamandapam, there are two full Mahendra type pillars and two half pillars with a plain kapota. There are three garbagrihams ( cells ) for three deities, though now all of them are empty.
It is a giant natural rock perched precariously on a hillside and startles the visitor with the way it’s balanced.
Festivals in Mahabalipuram
The most important festival of the Tamil Nadu is Pongal celebrated in mid-January every year. 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 in the precincts of the Shore Temple. The music emanating from the musical instruments blends with the natural music of wind and the sea creating an enrapturing ambience. The Sthalasayana Perumal temple festivals, Masimagam and Brahmothsavam, are held in the month of March.
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