Mahabalipuram alias Mamallapuram is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which consists of a Group of Monuments. It is located near Chennai (old name Madras) in the state of Tamilnadu in India. There are many historic monuments consisting of monolithic and cave rock cut carvings, portraying events from the major Indian epic Mahabharatha. It was built between the 7th and 9th centuries. Mahabalipuram is also known as Mamallapuram.
Sculture work seen at Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is on the Bay of Bengal sea coast. It is at a distance of around 60 kilometers from Chennai. It is situated on the Chennai – Pondicherry East Coast Road (ECR). Mahabalipuram was once the port city of the famous Pallava kingdom.
Magnificent burial urns and jars with burials dating to the start of the first century A.D. were discovered from nearby areas of Mamallapuram. 4th century Chinese and Roman coins were also found at Mamallapuram. Mamallapuram city is believed to have been built in the 7th century A.D., by the great Pallava king Narasimhavarman.
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India – China Summit on Mahabalipuram in October 2019
Mahabalipuram shot into prominence after the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met here for a Summit.
Modi-Xi Summit was held on October 11th and 12th, 2019.
Arjuna’s penance is one of the magnificent and gigantic rock-cut carvings at Mahabalipuram. It measures around 30meters in length (100 feet) and 15 meters (45feet) in height.
Arjuna is a leading character in the great Hindu epic, Mahabharatha. He is one among the Pandavas. Pandavas are 5 brothers in Mahabharatha. Arjuna’s penance was to obtain Lord Shiva’s weapons by meditation.
Shore Temple Mahabalipuram
There is also an ancient shore temple on the sea coast, which also belongs to the same period as mentioned above. Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram was submerged during certain periods in history. It is one of the places to visit in Mamallapuram. It is around 200 meters from the parking lot, near the Mamallapuram beach.
Olakkannesvara Temple alias Olakkanatha or the Old Lighthouse is an temple on top of a rock at Mamallapuram. It is also known as Durga temple.
Olakkanatha overlooks the Bay of Bengal. It is located above the Mahishasuramardini mandapa, near the modern lighthouse
Pandava Dynasty King Rajasimha built this Old Lighthouse temple. This Durga temple is also a structural temple like the Shore temple, described above. You need to climb a series of cut steps made on the rocks.
Olakkannesvara temple is also part of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How Do I Go to Chennai Mahabalipuram?
Mahabalipuram alias Mamallapuram is easily accessible by road. Chennai to Mahabalipuram distance is around 60 kilometers. Mamallapuram is on the East Coast Road (ECR Road – State Highway No 49). ECR runs along the coast of Tamilnadu, from Chennai to Thoothukudi alias Tuticorin. This road is being expanded to Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin via Thiruchendur and Koodamkulam. (Koodamkulam is the place where the nuclear power station has come up, a few years back).
Chennai International airport is the nearest airport to Mamallapuram.
Chennai Central railway station, Chennai Egmore and Chennai Tambaram are the nearest major railway stations to Mamallapuram. Mahabalipuram to Chennai traveling time is around one hour.
Hotels in Mahabalipuram
There are a large number of hotels at Mamallapuram. 5-star hotels along with budget hotels and resorts are there at Mamallapuram . There are different types of rooms in Mamallapuram, catering to the needs of the tourists.