Mahabalipuram

Globally renown for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. 58 kilometres from Madras on the Bay of Bengal, this tiny sea - side village of Mahabalipuram, is set in a boulder - strewn landscape. Tourists are drawn to this place by its miles of unspoiled beach and rock-cut art. The sculpture, here, is particularly interesting because it shows scenes of day-to- day life, in contrast with the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu, where the carvings generally depict gods and goddesses.

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. 

Places To See  

Arjuna's Penance

Carved in relief on the face of a huge rock, Arjuna's Penance is the mythical story of the river Ganges, issuing from its source, high in the Himalayas. The surface of the rock has detailed carvings showing the most endearing and natural renditions of animals. It also shows deities, and other semi-divine creatures and fables from the Panchtantra. Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers and a consummate archer, is shown standing on one leg, doing penance to obtain a boon from Lord Shiva. It is said that Arjuna had made a journey to a bank on the river Ganges to do penance, in the hope that Shiva would part with his favourite weapon, the pashupatashastra, a magic staff or arrow.

Mandapams (low rise, rockcut halls)

In all there are eight mandapams scattered over the main hill, two of which have been left unfinished.

Krishna Mandapam

This is one of the earliest rock-cut temples. It features carvings of a pastoral scene, showing Lord Krishna lifting up the Govardhana mountain, to protect his people from the wrath of Indra, the God of Rain.

Rathas

These are architectural prototypes of all Dravidian temples, showcasing the imposing gopurams and vimanas, multi-pillared halls and sculptured walls, which dominate the landscape of Tamil Nadu. The rathas are named after the Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharata epic. Although they are widely known as "Five Rathas", there are actually eight of them.

Shore Temples

The shore temples were built in the 7th century, during the reign of Rajasimha, and depict the final phase of Pallava art. These beautiful temples, ravaged by wind and sea, were given the World Heritage listing, a few years ago. The two spires of the temples, contain a shrine for Lord Vishnu and for Lord Shiva.

The Mahabalipuram dance festival is held every year from January 15 to February 15. During this period, dances from all over the country are staged here, including Kathakali from Kerala, Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh as well as tribal dances, puppet shows and classical and traditional music concerts. 

When to Visit 

The best time to visit this area is in winter, between the months of November and February. 

Some of the most exhilarating Pilgrimage in India include 
Ajmer Sharief (Rajasthan)
Badrinath (Uttar Pradesh)
Rishikesh (Uttar Pradesh)
Haridwar (Uttar Pradesh)
Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu)
Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu)
Trichy (Tamil Nadu)
Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)
Velangani (Tamil Nadu)
Konark (Orissa)
Amarnath (Jammu & Kashmir)
Tabo (Himachal Pradesh)
Kangra Valley (Himachal Pradesh)
Pawapuri (Bihar)
Sikh shrines (Amritsar)
The Modhera Sun Temple (Gujarat)
Pushkar (Rajasthan)
Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)
Kedarnath (Uttar Pradesh) 
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) 
Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu) 
Tanjavur (Tamil Nadu)
Basilica of Bom Jesus (Goa)
Bhubaneshwar (Orissa)
Puri (Orissa)
Vaishno Devi (Jammu & Kashmir)
Buddhist sites (Himachal Pradesh)
Bodhgaya (Bihar)
Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh)
Shirdi (Maharashtra)
Madurai(Tamil Nadu)