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Mahabalipuram Monuments UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mamalappuram Monuments, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kerala, India

UNESCO World heritage Site Mahabalipuram monuments / Mamallapuram is a monument complex on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is located near Chennai.


Mahabalipuram Monuments, Tamil Nadu, India
Mahabalipuram Monuments, Tamil Nadu, India

Details of Mahabalipuram Monuments

The most renowned landmark of Mahabalipuram / Mamallapuram is the Shore Temple. Standing alone on the shore, this temple is protected by a wall constructed to minimise erosion. It is believed that at one point there were seven such temples, six of them were victims to the natural elements of erosion. King Rajasimha built this exquisite temple over 1,200 years ago in the 7th century AD. It has three shrines; one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the other two to Lord Shiva. The frothy waves from a striking backdrop to the temple, protected by rows of rock-carved hills.

The most unique feature of the temple is that it houses shrines to both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The 2.4 m long bas-relief of Lord Vishnu reclining on his serpent conch can be seen in his shrine. The 16 sided granite lingam in one of the chambers is said to have touched the ceiling once. The entrance is guarded by deities and the temple was given the world heritage listing a few years ago. A classical example of the best Dravidian architecture, the unique temple will leave you in awe of the sculpture’s talent. Also worth seeing in Mahabalipuram / Mamallapuram are the eight magnificent Mandapams- caves carved out of the hillside with solendid sculptures and pillars. Each of the shallow temples has five bas-reliefs with scenes from Hindu mythology and two of them remain unfinished. In the Krishna Mandapam, the bas-relief shows Lord Krishna sheltering the shepherds and their cattle from the fury of the Rain God Indra with his enormous umbrella. On the hill rests a dangerously balanced boulder named Krishna’s butterball after his legendary affinity for fresh butter.

mahabalipuram Monuments, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kerala, India
Mahabalipuram Monuments, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kerala, India

In the Mahishasura Mardhini Mandapam are splendid sculptures of Goddess Durga fighting the evil buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura. Lord Vishnu sleeping on the coils of Adishesh the serpent can be seen too. Varha, the boar, an incranation of Lord Vishnu is seen emerging from the sea clinging onto the rescued Earth Goddess in the Varaha Mandapam. The five monolithic Rathas of Mahabalipuram / Mamallapuram are named after the victorious Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharata and their wife Draupadi. Though the temples are incomplete, they exude architectural brilliance of the Dravidian style, seen in the magnificent gopurams, vimanas and carved walls. The majestic lion, an Elephant and the sacred Nandi Bull guard the rathas. People practice worship in the Trimurti Cave and the Adivaraha Temple. Beautifully sculptures of mythical creatures, monkeys and yalis cover the walls. The revival of the Pallava art and craft can be seen in excellent replicas of ancient sculptures in granite, soapstone and marble at the Government School of Sculpture. You can buy these beautiful objects of art at various shops. Exquisite carving in wood and dazzling jewellery are available too.

Tourist Information
Open on all weekdays from sunrise to sunset.
Entry fee for those above 12 years: Rs. 5.00.
Free entry on Fridays.

Best Time To Visit
December & January.

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