A UNESCO Certified World Heritage site, Mahabalipuram is famous for its monuments and beaches. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram built by the Pallava
rulers, during the 7th and 8th centuries, is a tribute to tradition. It was also the port city of Pallavaís. The monuments are a classic example of Dravidian
architecture and Pallava art. Mahabalipuram, around 60 km from Chennai
, is also known as Mamallapuram.
Most of the temples and monuments were completed during the reigns of Narasimha Varman I (Mamalla, after whom the ancient town was named) and Narasimha Varman II. In contrast to the grand monuments of the
Cholas, the architecture of Pallavs is simple yet very lively and attractive.
The Pallavas were followers of Jainism but the conversion of Mahendra Verman to Shaivism had drastic consequences on the future of Jainism and it also explains the Shiva and Vishnu temple at Mahabalipuram.
The points of interest are the Rock Cut Caves (nine caves with carvings from Indian mythology), Arjunaís Penance, the Rathas, Shore temple and the Tiger caves. The beaches at Mahabalipuram are a major draw. Nearby by interests are
Kanchipuram, Vedanthangal, Sadras,
Covelong, Crocodile Bank and Muttukadu.
The Mamallapuram Dance festival, organized annually during January and February, is an occasion when artists from all over the country come together to perform. Mahabalipuram is a major center of South Indian sculpture.
The nearest airport is Chennai. The nearby railhead
Chengalpattu is 29 km away. Mahabalipuram is also well connected by road to Chengalpattu, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Pondicherry.