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Mahabalipuram - World Heritage Tourist Centre Featured

11 January 2011
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Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a small tourist village in Tamil Nadu. The town is famous for its stone carvings made during the Pallava dynasty in 7th – 9th century. This historical site is also listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. These monuments and temples are located about 58 – 60 km away from Chennai the capital city of the state.

Shore Temple

Mahabalipuram | World Heritage Tourist Centre

Shore Temples: These are the oldest monuments of this heritage site build in somewhere around 700 AD. Most of these are re-constructed because of the damage caused by a cyclone. Thirukadalmallai : A temple at the sea shore built on the instructions of a Pallava King in order to protect and safeguard other sculptures from the ocean. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Arjuna’s Penance : A huge bas-relief made by carving a rock and decorated with detailed carvings of monkeys and elephants.

Krishna’s Butterball : It is a giant rock that looks like a huge ball on the hilltop. It is an interesting place for scientists as the rock defiance the laws of physics.

In early days the village was called “Mamallapuram” and was built by the great king of Pallava Dynasty King Narasimha Varman I. Later the village became popular as Mahabalipuram, which literally means “the city of Sacrifice”. Mahabalipuram has a strong historical background that dates back more than 2000 years. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram includes temples and the great grand architectural buildings that were made by carving hard rocks. These structures are massive and beautiful.

Shore Temple Granite Board

Krishna's Butter Ball - Balancing Rock

Olakkanneshvara Temple

Pallava Art

Arjuna's Penance

Inner sanctum

Mahishamardini Mandapam

Huge Giant Rock Weathered By Wind

Shore Temple

Left Panel Wall

Seashore at Mamallapuram

Varaha Cave Bas relief


Today, Mahabalipuram is a pilgrim site that witnesses devotees not only from India but from all over the world. Today it is one of the major tourist attractions for scholars, devotees, artisans, architects and historians. These monuments gained UNESCO’s “World Heritage site distinction” twenty-six years ago i.e. in the year 1984.

This heritage site was once the seaport of the ancient Pallava Dynasty and today it has about forty monuments that include one of the largest open-air bas-reliefs in the world. The Mahaballipuram seaport traded with distant kingdoms of Southeast Asia. These kingdoms were Kambuja (Cambodia), Shrivijaya (Malaysia, Sumatra and Java) and with the empire of Champa (Annam). The Distinction of “World Heritage Site” is divided into four categories of monuments. These are:

* Ratha Temples: the temples in the form of processional chariots carved from rocks.

* Mandapas : the sanctuaries covered with bas-reliefs.

* Rock reliefs: Including descents of River Ganga

* Temple : The magnificent pyramidal towers made by cutting huge pieces of rocks. Most of these temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Trimurti cave Temple

Mahabalipuram | World Heritage Tourist Centre - 01

Mamallapuram Lighthouse

Rayar Gopuram

Krishna Mandapam Middle Panel Wall

Temple wall

Varaha cave temple

Mahishamardini Mandapam

Arjuna's Penance - Rock-cut Elephant

Top View Landscape

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