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January 12, 2011
Mahabalipuram- Sun, Sea and Stones...!!
My first visit to Chennai ended up being a trip to Mahabalipuram via Chennai. To be more precise I hardly visited any place in Chennai and instead covered the whole of Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram, earlier known as Mamallapuram was supposedly the port town of the Pallava kingdom. It is known for its amazing sculptures and marvellous temples.
A lovely drive down the East Coast Road took us to the hot and humid Mahabalipuram. Being a weekend, there were swarms of tourists at this World Heritage site. Mahabalipuram is famous for its stone carvings and sculptures which were carved centuries ago. The most famous and the must visit ones amongst them are the shore temple, Arjuna's Penance and the Five Rathas. The shore temple is a beautiful piece of art located close to the sea. Over the years it has undergone a lot of wear and tear and the sea has eaten into many parts of it. However it still holds a charm which attracts many tourists. Arjuna's Penance depicts a scene from the Mahabarata and the Five Rathas are dedicated to the five Pandava brothers. Cave temples are the other attractions and they display a lot of history through the lovely carvings around it.
After a lot of walks, climbs and photoshoots we explored a bit of Mahabalipuram and found many shops selling stone carvings, souviniers, artifacts etc. We also found many sculptors chiselling different types of stones into lovely sculptures.
After that it was time for some fun and we headed to the beachfor a dip in the Bay of Bengal. The beach looked deserted with very few people around. We however had no qualms about that and waded into the waters. After a few minutes of splashing and playing, we were advised by two life guards to not venture into the waters as the tides were pretty strong. That was indeed a disappointing end to an otherwise lovely trip.
The government and the UNESCO has taken many measures to preserve the fabulous sculptures and temples of Mahabalipuram. A lot of it has been taken away by the cyclones, tsunamis and the sea itself. Keen travellers ought to visit this heritage site before the Bay of Bengal gobbles it up completely.
Signing Note: Sit besides the sea and chisel away to glory.
Route: Chennai- Mahabalipuram
Distance- 56 Kms.