Mahabalipuram, a small town in the Tamil Nadu state, draws a staggering number of tourists from all over the country. The quaint place is home to a group of monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. These include temples, cave sanctuaries and much more. Some of these incredible structures are carved out of a single rock. The historical and cultural significance of these structures have put these on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tempting hordes of history buffs to book cheap flight tickets and fly over.
Evidence suggests that Mahabalipuram was an important place even before the monuments were built. It was among the two major ports in the region. The seven iconic structures here also earned it the moniker, ‘land of the Seven Pagodas.’ Keep reading to know more about the intriguing monuments of Mahabalipuram.
The Five Rathas are perhaps the most famous monuments in Mahabalipuram. The free-standing monolithic temples resemble processional chariots; hence, the name ‘rathas.’ These temples are named after the five Pandavas and their wife, from the Hindu epic, Mahabharatha.
Another famous monument at Mahabalipuram is Arjuna’s Penance. It is a 43 feet tall, giant monolith carved on the face of two adjoining boulders, stretching for a combined length of about 96 feet. The boulders are completely covered in intricate carvings of deities, birds, animals and saints. The bas relief is believed to illustrate an extract from Mahabharatha called Arjuna’s Penance, where Arjuna, one of the five Pandavas, performs rigorous penance to obtain Lord Shiva’s weapon. It is truly a sight to behold.
Believed to be one of the oldest temples in South India, Shore Temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal. It is also one of the first temples to be built as per the Dravidian style of architecture. It has two shrines, one dedicated to Lord Shiva and to Lord Vishnu, with one facing east, and other, west.
Mahishamardini Cave is a brilliant rock-cut temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. The cave walls are carved to depict the battle between the goddess and the demon king, Mahishasura. The walls also feature an idol of Lord Shiva meditating on Kailash Parbat.
The largest cave temple in Mahabalipuram, Panchapandava Mandapa is one of the finest examples of rock-cut cave architecture of ancient India. Like most of the other monuments in Mahabalipuram, the Panchapandava Mandapa is also adorned with gorgeous carvings.
Perched near the northern hills of Mahabalipuram, Trimurthi Cave depicts the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. It is unlike most of the temples built during the Pallava dynasty as it does not possess a pillared Mandap but opens directly to the three shrines. Besides, a smaller shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga is also present within the cave temple.
Right behind Arjuna’s Penance is Varaha Cave, carved out of a huge granite rock. The temple must have taken sculptors several decades to complete. The two pillars in front of the temple have images of lions on them. You can also see carvings of two dwarpalas guarding the inner sanctum of the temple.
If you are a history or culture enthusiast, Mahabalipuram is not a place you should miss to visit. Book cheap flight tickets and hotel rooms on HappyEasyGo and fly over to immerse in the historic charm of this place.