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Karthik Raja | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Incredible India >> Mahabalipuram - Tamil Nadu tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Mahabalipuram - Tamil Nadu

We set out to Mahabalipuram with a lot of skepticism about touts and pesky beggars and vendors. But Kart and I were determined to visit another 'World Heritage Site' and squeezed in this quick trip. The drive was excellent with the beach on one side and back­wa­ters on the other. If lucky one can even spot Porsches and Ferraris on this road.

The toll road was probably one of the best roads in the south and the many shades of blue of the sea water were very inviting. We reached there in good time and headed straight for the Shore temple. The entry fee for all the protected monuments is a paltry Rs 10. We were surprised to find land­scaped lawns, clean sur­round­ings and organized shops inside the premises.

The name Mahabalipuram evolved from Mamallapuram, named after the great Pallava ruler Mamalla (c.630-68). It lies 58 kilometers from Chennai, and the monuments here dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries are protected under Unesco's World Heritage Sites. The Shore temple, our first stop, speaks of the grandeur of the Pallavas and has weathered the forces of nature for cen­tur­ies. Having Balaram Periappa as our guide was a big plus. Then we headed to the Five rathas which were carved out of a single rock. Each ratha has its own ar­chi­tec­tur­al style and exudes grandeur and splendor. Our next halt was the old light house where one can still see a chamber where logs were burnt to signal to the ships. The view from the top is breathtaking and offers a 360 degree view of the coastline and monu­ment­s. Around the light house one can see the numerous caves each depicting a myth­o­lo­gic­al story. Prominent among these are Krishna Mandapam, The Varaha Cave, Dhar­ma­raja Cave and the Mahisasmardini Cave.

Set out early to beat the heat and the touts. Carry water and sun pro­tec­tion. Even in February it can get op­press­ive. As the sun rose above, we had to don our coolers and caps. One can spend from a few hours to a few days learning about the architecture and stories behind the sculptures and whicever it is you decide to do, do not miss Mahabalipuram.

History 1 - Mahapalipuram
History 1 - Mahapalipuram
The Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal
Alone in the Indian Ocean
Alone in the Indian Ocean
The back waters and rocks landscape
The back waters and rocks landscape
Present day light house, Mahabalipuram
Present day light house, Mahabalipuram
History 2 - Shore temple
History 2 - Shore temple
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Guarded by bulls, Mahabalipuram
Guarded by bulls, Mahabalipuram
View from the side, Mahabalipuram
View from the side, Mahabalipuram
The magnificent Gopuram, Mahabalipuram
The magnificent Gopuram, Mahabalipuram
Piercing the sky, Mahabalipuram
Piercing the sky, Mahabalipuram
Sculptures in the temple, Mahabalipuram
Sculptures in the temple, Mahabalipuram
Durga on Vahana, Mahabalipuram
Durga on Vahana, Mahabalipuram
The many arms of God, Mahabalipuram
The many arms of God, Mahabalipuram
A simple pose, Mahabalipuram
A simple pose, Mahabalipuram
The lion face, Mahabalipuram
The lion face, Mahabalipuram
An excavated statue of a pig, Mahabalipuram
An excavated statue of a pig, Mahabalipuram
Carvings and the moon, Mahabalipuram
Carvings and the moon, Mahabalipuram
Recent excavations, Mahabalipuram
Recent excavations, Mahabalipuram
History 3 - Five Rathas
History 3 - Five Rathas
The Pancha Pandava  Rathas, Mahabalipuram
The Pancha Pandava Rathas, Mahabalipuram
Draupadi's Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Draupadi's Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Decapitation stone, Mahabalipuram
Decapitation stone, Mahabalipuram
Arjuna Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Arjuna Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Nakula and Sahadeva Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Nakula and Sahadeva Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Bhima Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Bhima Ratha, Mahabalipuram
Bhima to Draupadi, Mahabalipuram
Bhima to Draupadi, Mahabalipuram
Elephant, Mahabalipuram
Elephant, Mahabalipuram
Nandi, Mahabalipuram
Nandi, Mahabalipuram
Lion of Durga, Mahabalipuram
Lion of Durga, Mahabalipuram
Sculptures on the Arjuna ratha, Mahabalipuram
Sculptures on the Arjuna ratha, Mahabalipuram
Ardhanariswara - half man, half woman, Mahabalipuram
Ardhanariswara - half man, half woman, Mahabalipuram
The female form, Mahabalipuram
The female form, Mahabalipuram
The eternal couple, Mahabalipuram
The eternal couple, Mahabalipuram
Shyness, Mahabalipuram
Shyness, Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram, Descent of the Ganges, India
Mahabalipuram, Descent of the Ganges, India
or Arjuna's penance, Mahabalipuram
or Arjuna's penance, Mahabalipuram
Descent of the ganges - In Detail, Mahabalipuram
Descent of the ganges - In Detail, Mahabalipuram
Krishna mantap - Govardhana Giri, Mahabalipuram
Krishna mantap - Govardhana Giri, Mahabalipuram
Milking Scene, Mahabalipuram
Milking Scene, Mahabalipuram
Nandi - Shiva's bull, Mahabalipuram
Nandi - Shiva's bull, Mahabalipuram
Mahishamardini Mandap, Mahabalipuram
Mahishamardini Mandap, Mahabalipuram
Ananthapadmanabha, Mahabalipuram
Ananthapadmanabha, Mahabalipuram
Mahishasuramardhini, Mahabalipuram
Mahishasuramardhini, Mahabalipuram
Flying consorts, Mahabalipuram
Flying consorts, Mahabalipuram
Varaha sculpture - Adivaraha Mandap, Mahabalipuram
Varaha sculpture - Adivaraha Mandap, Mahabalipuram
Ready for battle, Mahabalipuram
Ready for battle, Mahabalipuram
Resting God, Mahabalipuram
Resting God, Mahabalipuram
The flight of the Elephants, Mahabalipuram
The flight of the Elephants, Mahabalipuram
The famous Krishna's butter ball, Mahabalipuram
The famous Krishna's butter ball, Mahabalipuram
The old lighthouse, Mahabalipuram
The old lighthouse, Mahabalipuram
The sea facing side, Mahabalipuram
The sea facing side, Mahabalipuram