The small village of Mamallapuram (formerly known as Mahabalipuram) offers a little rarity to the visitor: a combination of beach and temple, cliff caves and a lighthouse. Early in the morning you can get up and go for a walk to the nearby ocean shore, enjoy an amazing sunrise and observe the fishermen at work. As the village slowly awakens on the way back, you can stop in one of the many restaurants for breakfast. The crows begin to call, the first cows come ambling by, and the stonemasons start their day’s tasks. At this hour, all things are pretty and meditative - and this won’t change throughout the rest of the day.

Highlights The picturesque village is 60 km south of Chennai (Madras) and is famous for the ancient sea shore temple – the oldest and one of the most beautiful temples in the region, as well as the five rathas (models of architecture from the 7th century) and Arjuna's Penance - a giant bas-relief of detailed carvings. All blend brilliantly with the rocks, sandy beaches and a resort atmosphere to offer the visitor a stimulating mixture of relaxation and cultural highpoints. The city government’s efforts to preserve the sights have improved since they have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Tourism Mamallapuram has developed from a tiny village into an important touristic attraction, with over 100 000 visitors per year. That has brought pro and cons. On the one hand, the place is well developed and has service, accommodations and restaurants for every budget. Mostly you find the relaxed resort atmosphere in the village. But sometimes also there is pollution, greed, dirt and scandals as well as beggars, tour guides and street vendors of every color.

Travel Season The best time to travel there is from December til March, when the monsoon rains stop and its not too hot yet. But from July til September its also a great time to go, because the prices are lower and there are less tourists (because weather can be either a little hot or the beginning of monsoon brings some refreshing rain.)

Daytrips Mamallapuram is a good home base for day trips to Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Auroville, Tiruvanamalai, Chennai as well as Dakshina Chitra (a first-rate open air museum) , the crocodile farm in Vadenemmeli and the Shiva-Temple in Tirukalikundram.

 

 
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Mamallapuram: Shore Temple und Five Rathas
Fischer am Strand von Mamallapuram