Tourism in MamallapuramMamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is a famous destination amongst travellers from Bangalore and Chennai. From children to couples to families, Mamallapuram is for everyone! There are plenty of local attractions in the town, which can be visited almost at any time of the day. May it be early morning, late evening or a mid night drive, Mamallapuram has something suitable for different types of travellers. Moreover, there are plenty of attractions in Mamallapuram. You can cover the whole of Mamallapuram in just four to six days. It is a perfect destination for short trips.
Tourist Attractions in Mamallapuram
Mamallapuram has plenty of travel spots. There are temples, caves and beaches which attract hundreds of tourists every year. The place has many historical trails. As you scan through these sites you will get a comprehensive insight through the early days of Mamallapuram. Exploring through these sites will definitely help you learn many interesting facts about the town!
Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
Shore temple in Mamallapuram has a history that traces back to the early 8th century. It is a very old temple and a glorious reminder of slice of Tamil history. The Shore temple is made of huge granite blocks and Dravidian styled architecture.
Temples in Mamallapuram
Other than the Shore Temple, the Trimurti Cave Temple, Sri Sthala Sayanaperumal Temple, Varaha Cave Temple, Thirukalukundram, Ganesh Ratha Temple and Thirukadalmallai Temple are noteworthy sites in Mamallapuram. The Five Rathas or rock-cut temples of Mamallapuram are designed in different styles and are brilliant examples of work of art.
Caves and Heritage Sites in Mamallapuram
Important heritage sites in the town would include Dakshinchitra, Pancha Rathas, Krishna's Butterball and Arjuna's Penance. Three important caves in Mamallapuram are Mahishamardini Cave, Dharmaraja Cave and Tiger's Cave. If you are in Mamallapuram, you must make it a point to visit all these interesting and never-like-before travel destinations. The Mahishasuramardhini cave with goddess fighting a demon on one side, and Lord Vishnu in a state of cosmic sleep on the other, is a must visit cave in Mamallapuram. The Krishna Mandapam that has stories related to Lord Krishna is also an important tourist spot.
Mamallapuram is a beautiful town that has many hidden treasures. The place is wonderfully built by the ancient Pallava Dynasty. The splendid kingdom is well known for its creativity and imaginations. History written by various Pallava Kings is hidden in Mamallapuram. And a portion of it can be learnt through the town's magnificent caves. Two important caves in Mamallapuram would be the Dharmaraja Cave and Tiger's Cave.
The Dharmaraja Cave
The Dharmaraja Cave in Mahabalipuram is a beautiful travel destination, visited by historians and enthusiastic archeologists. The place is surrounded by many monuments from the early Pallava Dynasty that hails between the 7th and 8th Century. One of the most famous monuments in this small town is the Pancha Ratha. The Pancha Ratha represents monolithic sculptures that were designed and carved by king Narasimhavarman Mahamalla between 630 and 668 AD. The Dharmaraja Cave is a part of the Pancha Ratha. It is a cave temple sculpted during early 17th century. It has three sanctuaries, an open mandapa and a rear wall. The Dharmaraja Cave is protected by many guardian figures that are carved and plcaed at the doorway. On the whole, the architectural elements of the cave are not adorned.
The Dharmaraja Cave has three important deities. These deities are placed in three different cells alias garbagrihams. Currently, the three cells are empty. The artistic cave is believed to be one of King Narasimhavarma's favorites. The Dharmaraja Cave has another interesting location called the Atyantakama Mandapam. The mandapam is filled with many inscriptions. Close to this Mandapam, you will see two half pillars and full Mahendra pillars. The Dharmaraja Cave doesn't have many scrulptures and is often visited by researchers.
The Tiger CaveThe Tiger Cave is a beautifully cut Hindu temple near Saluvankuppam, a locality near Mamallapuram. The cave acquires its name from its magnificent tiger carvings. A major portion of the cave would be the tiger's mouth and heads. History states that the Tiger Cave was built during the 8th century AD by the Pallava Dynasty. It is a beautiful picnic spot and an ultimate tourist destination. Currently the cave is managed and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) research and discovery of the cave's elements began in 2005. The holiday destination has clean parking spots and plenty of greenery in and around for visitors. It is extremely close to many beach resorts and hotels. The Tiger's Cave is present exactly 5 km before Mahabalipuram Junction. The place doesn't have any entrance fee! And, you will spot many tender coconut and soft-drink stalls near the spot. Moving on, you will see many rocks that are meant for kids. Young ones would enjoy climbing and running around these small rocks.
The Tiger cave is regarded as a shrine dedicated to the ancient Goddess Durga. It has many sculptures and writings to portray the events that occured in the life of Durga. The cave is crowned by a mythical creature called Yali. Locally, Yali represents a tiger or lion. As you move towards one side of the cave you will see several heads and in another side you will see the ferocious head of the ancient mythical creature Yali. There is a puddle of water present right below these heads to show its reflection. History states that pallavas used the Tiger Cave as a venue for many open air events. Many dramas and plays were conducted in this open air theatre during the Pallava Dynasty.
Close to the Tiger's Cave you will see many carvings, columns and massive pillars that are dedicated to Shiva. The Athiranachanda Cave is extremely close to the Tiger's Cave. It homes a Shivalinga that is often visited by Shiva devotees. The cave was build by a Pallava King called Rajasimha, who was an earnest Shiva devotee. There are many Pallava Grantha inscriptions on the walls of the Athiranachanda Cave.
Timings for Tiger Cave Visits :
Monday - Friday: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM ,
Saturday: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM ,
Sunday: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM ,
Public Holidays: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM
Best Time to Visit : February, March, October, November, December
The Mahishamardini Cave also known as Yampuri is a great example of splendid rock sculpture of the Pallavas. The Indian Rock Cut Sculpture has a history that dates back to the early 7th Century. The cave is located in Mamallapuram and is very close to the lighthouse. It is a fines testimony that describes the life of Vishwakarma. The Mahishamardini Cave has many features that would leave you awestruck. There are three flawlessly carved sculptures on the cave wall, where one represents Vishnu, the second is Durga and the third is sculpture of Vishnu. Additionally, the cave is filled with many statues from the Hindu Mythology that dates back to early 5th century AD.
Myths and History of Mahishamardini CaveAccording to literature and findings, the Mahishamardini Cave showcases how Durga killed Mahishasura. This is a demon who was believed to be unconquerable. After the slaying, Durga was known as the Mahishasuramardhini alias conqueror of Mahishasur. There is a granite temple in the Mahishamardini Cave with sculptures of goddess Durga. The cave acquired its name after this incident. The inner walls of the cave showcase this battle in a pictorial and enticing manner. You will see sculptures of Durga with a bow & arrow riding on a lion pursuing Mahishasur and his troupe.
The Mahishamardini Cave was built during 630 to 668 AD by King Narasimhavarman Mahamalla. He was famous king in the Pallava Dynasty. The cave is a real time continuation of many religious themes and stories from Western India. The traditional style of carvings usedin the cave evolved from the Pallava Kings. Moving on, the architecture was continued by King Mahendra Varman 1 and Mamalla's son.
Location of Mahishamardini CaveThe Mahishamardini Cave is located strategically close to the Bay of Bengal on the Coromandel Coast. It is around 58 km from Chennai and 32 km from Chengalpetu. There is a lighthouse located very close to the Mahishamardini Cave. Additionally, the Olakkanesvara Temple is found near the vintage spot. This is a high security zone, due to the nuclear powerstation located few kilometers towards the south of the cave.
Structure of the Mahishamardini CaveThe Mahishamardini Cave has three chambers. It faces the east with an internal dimension of 32ft in length, 16ft in width and 12ft in height. The cave has 10 different horse shaped windows with unfinished carvings. There are four beautifully sculpted pillars in the cave to depict Pallava architecture. The central chamber of Mahishamardini Cave has two lion bases, which are also carved in Pallava style.
The most important part of the Mahishamardini Cave is dedicated to the goddess Mahishasuramardini, who is believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Durga. The mandapam is carved in a huge granite rock.The cave has a huge entrance with three chambers. There are guardians in the central chamber with images of Shiva and Parvathi in the wall. All around the cave you will see many sculptures of Brahma with four heads and four hand, Vishnu with his four hands and chakra. The North of the cave shows the battle between the Goddess and the demon. It is a clear picture of how good triumphs over evil. The south of Mahishamardini Cave has Vishnu in his reclining posture.
Timings - Opening & Closing:
Monday - Friday: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM
Saturday: 12.00 AM - 12.00 AM
Sunday: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM
Public Holidays: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM
Best Time to Visit : February, March, October, November, December
Krishna's Butter Ball
Krishna's Butter Ball is one of the many attractions with historical significance in Mamallapuram. The beautiful butter ball has plenty of stone carvings and lots of inscriptions on it. There are many stone carvings found around the Shore Temple. However, nothing stands next to this beautiful rock that doesn't move an inch! It is a location known for its greenery and unexplained science.
The RockA quick look at Krishna's Butterball will leave you awestruck. Statistically, the rock is around 20ft in height and 20ft meters in diameter. The rock weighs around 250 tonnes. It has a very smooth slope and a cut surface at about 5ft. At an angle, you will see some portion of the granite stone being sheared off. You cannot climb or move this rock. According to researchers and scientists, the splendid rock defies the laws of nature and physics. No one clearly knows how the rock came to this spot or why it stands still without rumbling down the slope! The precarious position of the rock, makes it a great place for understanding of legends.
Myths behind Krishna's Butterball
As suggested by its name, many believe the rock to be Krishna's butterball! Lord Krishna is a mythological Hindu God. He is well known for his irresistible appetite for fresh butter. As a young boy, he had the habit of sneaking butter jars from his mother and neighbors. Located very close to the Ganesh Ratha, this rock is a symbol of how Krishna steals and enjoys butter!
According to old writings, Narashima Pallavan did not want any sculptor to touch the stone. The Great king considered the stone as a Sky God's Stone. This clearly proves that the rock was present in this place even before the 7th century. Archeologists believe that the rock was constructed in this grounds 1300 years ago.
Fun at Krishna's ButterballThe rock's enticing yet awkward position makes it extremely popular amongst travellers. It makes a great background for photo enthusiasts. Visitors are allowed to picture the rock freely. Additionally, the great natural side of Krishna's Butterball, its green pastures and tall trees will give you a perfect ambience to sit and relax.
Attractions near Krishna's ButterballAs you enter into the premise of Krishna's Butterball, you will come across two more important attractions. This includes the Thirumurthi Caves and a small rock cut temple. Each of these attractions have a history that dates back to the early 7th century. The Rock Cut Temple is craved completely from a single rock by the Pallava Dynasty. Three important deities in this temple would be Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva.
How to reach Krishna's ButterballAddress : Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Best Time : Try to avoid mid-afternoons and early summer. The best time to visit would be late winter or the early monsoon season.
India Shell Museum and Open Air Museum
Do not forget to pay a visit to India's first ever sea shell museum which has a collection of more than 40,000 unique and rare shells.The collection Open Air Museum gives a comprehensive insight of the ore-Sangam days in Tamil Nadu.
Hotels in Mamallapuram
There are plenty of hotels and resorts in & around Mamallapuram. This can be attributed to its fervent flow of tourists into the city. From simple three star hotels to huge four star resorts, you can find hotels that fit into a wide price spectrum. Apart from hotels, you will find guest houses and self catering villas in the town. These are special means of accommodation with Deluxe, Standard and Executive Suite styled rooms. Almost all hotels in Mamallapuram have air conditioned rooms, exquisite banquet halls, round the clock travel assistance, special tour plans and restaurants. For a complete list of hotels in Mamallapuram, click here
Best time to visit MamallapuramYou can visit Mamallapuram at anytime of the year. However, the best months are February, October, November and December. This is when the town has a pleasant climate. Local attractions during these months can be visited in a tireless and comfortable manner. During the summer months, Mamallapuram can get extremely hot and difficult. Thus, the best time to visit Mamallapuram would be during the monsoon or winter season.
How to reach Mamallapuram
Mamallapuram is well connected by road, train and air. The closest airport to Mamallapuram is located in Chennai. The airport is around 60km away from the heart of Mamallapuram. And, the nearest railway station is located in Chengalpattu. The city is around 30km away from Mamallapuram. If you live in Chennai or Bangalore, you can opt for bus services. There are frequent buses connecting Mamallapuram and Chennai. The journey would hardly take 2 hours based on road and traffic conditions.
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