The temple city of Mahabalipuram (also Mamallapuram)
is situated just 60 km off Chennai on the
Bay of Bengal coast in the south Indian
state of Tamil Nadu. It extends from latitude
12°37' in the North to longitude 80°14'
in the East. The city is well connected
through a network of roads from Chennai
and other important cities of South India.
Many of the Resorts Mahabalipuram are strategically
located close to the tourist spots.
Mahabalipuram is a temple town that is situated
along the Coromandel Coast 55 kilometers
off Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu. The
place is famous for its Ratha temples that
are a part of the famous shore temple complex.
The Pallava king Narsimha built the magnificent
'Ratha' cave temples of Mahabalipuram. The
beauty of the sculptural art of the rock-cut
temples tells about the architectural contribution
of the erstwhile Pallava rulers. These 7th
century temples are regarded the pioneer
of an entirely revolutionary style of architecture
that came to be known as Dravidian architecture
These 'Ratha' temples of Mahabalipuram are
commonly called the Pancha Pandava Ratha.
These temples are considered pioneer of
the Dravidian monolith era and mark the
point of transition between the earlier
tradition of rock-carved temples and the
later tradition of freestanding stone structures.
There are actually eight Rathas at Mahabalipuram
out of which five are named after the five
Pandavas of Mahabharata and one after Draupadi.
The five rathas that can be seen are Dharmaraja
Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi
Ratha and Nakul Sahadev Ratha.
The interesting features among all these
Ratha temples are the fact that all of them
are monolith and are based on the Buddhist
Viharas and Chaityas. The largest and the
smallest among them are three-storied Dharmaraja
Ratha and one-storied Draupadi Ratha respectively.
The magnificent way in which these Monolithic
Cave Temples were excavated by scooping
out the scarp of the hill from front to
back is a real treat for the eyes.
Apart from the famous Rathas, there are
other magnificent temples in Mahabalipuram
too. These temples are renowned for their
Mandapas (cave sanctuaries). A Mandapa is
an open pavilion or a hall with cells in
the back wall and is cut out of a single
piece of rock. The giant open-air relief
such as the famous 'Descent of the Ganges'
and the temple of Rivage, with thousands
of sculptures to the glory of Shiva, are
the most attractive. Both of these temples
attract a lot of crowd every year.
The climate of Mahabalipuram remains hot
and sultry throughout the year with a maximum
temperature of 35°C and a minimum of
19°C. The best time to visit this place
is during October to March. One is advised
to avoid the monsoon period. Mahabalipuram
Resorts are packed during the peack season,
thus advance booking for Resorts Mahabalipuram
- Air: Chennai is the
nearest airport from Mahabalipuram. Flights
are available for almost all major destinations
in India and abroad.
- Rail: The nearest railway
station is Chengalpattu. You can easily
get trains for Chennai and several other
- Road: Mahabalipuram
is well connected by road to Chennai,
Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Madurai and
other towns and cities of Tamilnadu.
in Mahabalipuram Rathas
There are a number of Mandapas in Mamallapuram,
which are adorned with intricate carvings
and reliefs. The sculptures display the
artistic skills of Pallavan rock cutters.
The main objects seen carved here are the
figures of Gods and Goddesses. The Ganesh
Mandapam is an active shrine even today
and bears the figure of an Elephant God.
Varaha Mandapam is dedicated to the incarnations
of Lord Vishnu, namely Varaha - the boar
and Vamana - the dwarf. Mahishasurmardini
Mandapam depicts Goddess Durga, slaying
a demon. Panch Pandava Mandapam is unfinished
and is adorned with delicate carvings.
There are eight rathas here, which are in
the form of monolithic temples - designed
as chariots. The fascinating fact about
these rathas is that their carvings are
done with such meticulous details that it
appears as if the rathas are made up of
wood. The fine lines visible in timber are
engraved in stone to give it the required
look. Five of theses rathas are dedicated
to the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi.
Dharmaraja Ratha is the largest, while the
Draupadi Ratha is the smallest.