The legacy preserved in the stones
|State||: Tamil Nadu|
|Type of Tourism||: Heritage Tourism, Beaches|
|Area||: 8 square kilometers|
|Population||: 12,049 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 12 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: November to March|
|Languages spoken||: Tamil and English|
|Telephone Code||: India (04113), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 603104|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter|
|What to buy||: Stone Sculptures, Artistry Works, Granite Statues, Images of Hindu Gods made from Soapstone, Handicrafts, Wood Carvings, Jewellery, Sea Shell Articles|
|Food Specialties||: All South Indian Items, Sea Food|
|Local transportation||: Bus, Taxi, Rented Motorbikes, On Foot|
|Must Do||: Bike Trips, Boat Rides, Fishing Trips, Turtle Walk at the Beach, Trekking, Attend Yoga Camps|
‘Mahabalipuram’ or ‘Mamallapuram’ a thriving port city and a booming center of trade & merchandise between 7th and 10th century AD is today commended as the ‘Open Air Museum’ of ancient Tamil Art and the astounding legacy of Pallava Architecture. A town of the Kancheepuram District located approximately 60 kilometers to the south of Chennai; Mahabalipuram is today listed amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its fantastic historic mementos dated back to 7th and 9th century AD. The classic town of Mahabalipuram derives its appellation from the name of the mythological demon king Mahabali who was sent to the ‘Patal Loka’ i.e. ‘Nether’ by the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu; Lord Vamana. Later the epithet Mahabalipuram was changed to ‘Mamallapuram’ after the name of its founder; the great Pallava King Narasimha Varman I who had earned the title of ‘Mamalla’ or ‘Maha-Malla’ which means; ‘the great wrestler’.
The present day Mahabalipuram; the epic poems engraved on the stones, is renowned nationwide for its stone carvings and historical edifices. The rock cut caves, temples and monolithic rathas ornately carved out of single colossal boulders draw tourists from every corner of the country and globe. Apart from its archival and architectonic bequest, Mahabalipuram, positioned on the Coromandel Coast facing the Bay of Bengal is equally popular amongst the tourists for its alluring sandy beaches skirted by the charming casuarinas tree fringes. Today Mahabalipuram forms the legendary ‘Golden Tourism Triangle’ along the Coromandel Coast with Chennai and Kancheepuram and is regarded as one of the most frequented tourist destinations of the state of Tamil Nadu.
History of Mahabalipuram
The archeological evidences such as megalithic burial urns, jars and cairn circles unearthed from Mahabalipuram are dated back to the early Christian Era. A Sangam Age poem narrates the account of a King named Thondaiman Ilam Thiraiyar who ruled Kancheepuram of the Tondai Nadu. The port Nirppeyyaru of Thondaiman’s kingdom is identified with the present day Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram. Roman coins of King Theodosius I and several Chinese coins dated back to 4th century AD found here verify the flourishing maritime trade ensuing between Mahabalipuram and various foreign destinations during the late classical epoch. Mahabalipuram; the city of King Mahabali, or Mamallapuram; the city of the great wrestler - the Pallava King Narasimha Varman I, was reined by the Pallava Kings from the 3rd century to 9th century AD after the downfall of Gupta Dynasty. Kancheepuram was the first capital of Pallava Kings whereas Mahabalipuram furnished as their second capital. During the governance of the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I in 7th century AD, the civic Mahabalipuram underwent a significant development and attended abundant fame and prosperity. The existing archaeological monuments of Mahabalipuram today celebrated world wide for its architectural ingenuity were erected during the domination of Pallava Kings itself. Even though, the opulence and aesthetics of Mahabalipuram were concealed till 18th century AD when the British brought it back to lime light. The current Mahabalipuram as it is was established during the British Raj in India in the year 1827.