MahabalipuramMahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a tourist town 60 km south of Chennai made famous by its stone carvings. The most famous monument is the Shore Temple: when lit by moonlight, it is one of the most beautiful locations in the region. It is an important tourist attraction close to Chennai , along with the temples of Kanchipuram and the colonial buildings of Pondicherry. India's fourth largest city. The East Coast Road has made it easily accessible - just about an hour from the city. At one time you could see the Bay of Bengal almost all the way to Mahabalipuram but, there is so much development that the ocean is glimpsed only as you get close to Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram art can be divided into four categories : open air bas - reliefs, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas ('chariots' carved from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna's Penance and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen man-made caves in different stages of completion are also seen, scattered through the area.

Mamallapuram itself was getting run down over the last decade with very patchy efforts at keeping the monuments preserved. This has changed in the last few years with the Shore Temple being included in the UNESCO heritage project. The surroundings have been made much nicer, but, there has been a lot of wind and water erosion on the temple carvings with many of them having undergone loss of detail over the years. Sort of too little. too late, but still, better than nothing.

The beauty of the place is not only due to these architecture but the vast casuarinas trees, the silvery sandy beach the classical hand male crafts around have made them all to form what is a collective splendor. Any visitor who visits mahabalipuram will remain startled and intoxicated with the grandeur. They feel hand hearted and more out from this historical and fascinating tourist spot.

Places to see in Mahabalipuram
Thirukadalmallai-the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean.
Krishna's ButterballShore Temple-The temple is carved from a single piece of stone and has stood for more than 1400 years.
Pancha Pandava Rathas - Five "rathas", literally chariots, dating from the 7th century.
Arjuna's Penance - A giant bas-relief filled with detailed carvings, including a family of elephants and monkeys.
Varaha Cave-Has four impressive carvings of Vishnu, Gakalakshmi, Trivikama and Durga.
Mahishamardini Cave-The central carving is of Shiva and Parvati and Murugan

How to reach Mahabalipuram
By Air-Chennai is the nearest airport with both domestic and international terminus. Chennai is connected with all the major places in India through the numerous domestic flights. International flights operate from various parts of the world to Chennai.
By Rail-The nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu and Chennai . From these stations one has to take road to reach the Mahabalipuram.
By Road-Buses are available from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mahabalipuram daily. The road to Mahabalipuram is good. Tourists can also hire a taxi from Chennai.

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