Arjuna's Penance, Mamallapuram
Mamallapuram City - Center of Aura
Situated some 60 km south of Chennai, Mamallapuram has become famous for its monuments and stone carvings. Mamallapuram once served as a port city to the great Pallava kings, the history of this city dates back to more than 2000 years. Many temples were built in that era and most of them were fashioned out of rocks, are considered among the oldest in south India and showcase the Dravidian style of architecture to perfection. The most famous of all is the Shore temple situated at a picturesque location just by the side of Bay of Bengal. The temple is at its imperious best to look at under the moonlit skies. The temple was battered by waves and winds of 13 centuries and too was a victim of people's inattention, but now, after Mamallapuram being tagged as a World heritage site by UNESCO, it gets all the deserved attention and accolades. There are other tourist places worth a visit in Mamallapuram like the Panch Rathas, Arjuna's Penance and many well carved caves like the Mahishasurmardini Cave.
Being adjacent to a sea, the climate here is pleasant throughout the year and can be visited at any time in the 12-month period. The people in the city of Mamallapuram are very warm and hospitable. Majority of the population here understands English, which makes moving around in the city easier for the international tourists. Travelers who love to explore new and fascinating things are in for a treat in this resplendent city. Every monument is completely different from the other and is a marvel in itself. Nature has also been very generous to the city, beaches are quite pleasing and tempting, so bring along your swimming suit and enjoy the refreshing waters. Shopholics too will not leave Mamallapuram empty handed, there are ample of items to choose from like locally made handy crafts, artifacts and many homemade delicacies. Come aboard for an experience so rare and precious that you would like not to forget even a single moment of it.
Attractions - World Heritage Sites
Mamallapuram is a city that has monuments as grand and as majestic that you will not find a competition anywhere in whole of India. The monuments here have everything that make a site memorable, tradition, history, piety, and magnetism that attracts hordes of tourist to Mamallapuram. The city contains nearly forty structures of different kind like temples and bas- relief, of which, one is the biggest in the world.
Arjuna's Penance, a sculpted rock situated opposite to Talasayana Perumal Temple is the world's largest bas-relief. The rock has carvings of Arjuna in deep meditation and many other sculptures of Gods, elephants, monkeys, and other creatures looking on. A naturally built cleft down the rock is said to be a representation of the Ganges, which seems to be life like during the rainy season when water flows into a tank below. Just a few meters away, to the left of Arjuna's Penance, is Krishna Mandapam, another bas-relief, carved in the mid-7th century, definitely able to catch your attention, watch carefully the carvings of Lord Krishna indulging into his day to day activities, you will be stun by such a fineness of details. Near Arjuna's Penance, to the north, is the huge spherical boulder known as Krishna's Butter Ball, balanced on a hillside, a sight worth a watch.
Mahishasuramardini cave, remarkable for the two impressive friezes at each end of its long hallway. On the panel to the right, Durga, the mother of the universe, is shown seated on her lion,. She is shown in the process of killing the buffalo-headed demon, Mahisha. At the opposite end of the veranda, there is a sculpture in which Lord Vishnu is depicted sleeping peacefully on his serpent bed. On top of the hill, there is another section that portrays sculpted figures and mythical scenes, including one large panel of Lord Vishnu as a gigantic boar.
Sitting pretty on a sandy beach on the Bay of Bengal, early-8th-century Shore Temple is considered to be one of the oldest temples in South India. Its two towers started a trend that was copied by temples throughout the southern region and to other Asian shores. A sculpture of reclining Lord Vishnu is found inside one shrine, whereas the other two shrines are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is a classic example of Dravidian style architecture. Make your travel worthwhile by paying a visit to the presiding deities.
Panch Pandava Rathas
Placed in a sandy land, the five chariots (Panch Rathas) are named after the five Pandava brothers. Although they are not completed, but even these incomplete structures provide you with a mesmerizing view into the past. The five chariots are so well crafted that it seems as if they are trying to show off their architectural brilliance. All five structures are carved out of a single pieces of rock that underlines the fact that, even without super technology, the people in that era were highly skilled and crafty. These shrines are an epitome of perfect and precise planning. The dome-shaped tower found on some of the temples here, became an inspiration and example for other South Indian temples.
Accommodation is not a problem in Mamallapuram as the options to choose from are plenty. There are various star rated hotels along with government approved hotels. For a pleasant stay, count on Golden Sun Hotel & beach Resort, GRT Temple Bay and K.G Emerald Beach Hotel.
The nearest airport is Chennai around 50 km away. It takes around 1 hr by road to reach Mamallapuram. Transportation is easily available from airport to Mamallapuram.
Nearest railhead is Chennai which is well connected to all parts of India. Pondicherry station is also close by and can be used as an alternative.
The national highway that runs through Mamallapuram connects the city to all major parts of Tamil Nadu. Buses and Taxis from nearby areas ferry people in and out of the city.
Apart from an impressive bus service, Taxis, auto rickshaws, and mopeds are also available for hire in good numbers.