By Lakshmi: (Updated Feb, 2016)
When I was a little kid, we lived for a few years in Chennai in southern India. Every year, for our school’s annual outing, we went to Mahabalipuram, a coastal town about 60 kilometers from Chennai. My most vivid memories of those trips are just being in awe of the sculptures, the big hunk of rock called the butter ball, the artists chiseling beautiful sculptures from huge blocks of rock and of course the awesome pistachio ice cream that was a much awaited treat at the end of a long summer day.
In the past several years, I have had multiple opportunities to return to this beautiful place. And while so much of India has changed, Mahabalipuram, much like the sculptures and temples it is famous for, strangely remains untouched with the passage of time.
Mahabalipuram, a group of temples and sanctuaries created by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The shore temple set against the ocean is a sight to behold and the temples in the form of rathas (chariots) and mandapas (cave sanctuaries) carved with exquisite details including tales from the Mahabharata now remind me of another set of temples so dear to my heart…Angkor.
To appreciate all the wonders of this beautiful location, I would recommend getting an early start from Chennai (hiring a car or taking a tour bus) and spending the day there. This will not only give you the time to take in the temples and watch the sculptors in action, but also the ability to savor this oceanfront locale.
To learn more about Mahabalipuram, please click here.
You can find information on tours to Mahabalipuram here.