Mahabalipuram, the Pallava Capital

Posted Date: 23 Jul 2010      Author: Kumaraditya Sarkar Profile photo   Member Level: Gold (Rs. 50)

Mahabalipuram; Mamallapuram; History of Mahabalipuram; Pallava Kings; Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram; Rathas of Mahabalipuram; and many more information.

Mahabalipuram


Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is an ancient town of Tamilnadu, located in the Kanchipuram district. Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is located about 60 kilometre south of Chennai, the capital city of Tamilnadu. Mahabalipuram was a port city of the seventh century CE of the ancient South Indianw Pallava dynasty. Historians debate over the actual name of the place, whether it is Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram, and there are logics for both the names. Both the alternative names, Mahabalipuram and Mamallapuram (coming down from Mahamallapuram), have their respective stories about the origin. Wrestling was a very popular sport and pastime among the Pallavas and the ancient Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman I adopted the epithet Maha-malla, or the Great Wrestler. Hence the name of the city was named after the Maha Mall king, as Mahamallapuram and thereafter Mamallapuram. Another view is that the same king was Mahabali, or the super powerful man. Thus the city got its name nomenclature Mahabalipuram. The historic monuments and sculptures of Mahabalipuram were all constructed between the 7th and the 9th centuries. Presently, Mahabalipuram has been distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

There is another story too. Once upon a time a fierce and cruel king called Mahabali ruled this place. For his arrogance and cruelty, his end came nigh and Lord Vishnu descended to punish him. Ultimately, the arrogant and rude Mahabali was killed in a deadly battle with Vishnu, and the place was named after him as Mahabalipuram. Later, during the reign of Narasimhavarman, he re-changed the name as par his epithet Maha Malla. Whatever the name, Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a legacy of ancient stone built structures. On the Coromandel coast, with the Bay of Bengal’s waves in the front, Mahabalipuram served the Pallava kings long as their port citadel.



Shore Temple

History of Mahabalipuram


Not even considering the mythical story of the rude king Mahabali, we can very well state that population settlements were there in Mahabalipuram even around 2nd or 3rd century CE; and most importantly, those were urban settlements. Mamallapuram, accordingly, has a long history. The beginning of the history of Mahabalipuram, however, is not much clear. It was the Pallava kings, in fact, who have been immortal in the history of Mahabalipuram.

Following the decline of the Gupta Dynasty, and its loosening grip in the South India, the Pallava kings had rose to the power. And they chose Mahabalipuram as their port citadel due to its excellent location on the Bay of Bengal. Though the Pallava kings ruled over a long period, beginning from the 6rd century CE to the 9th century CE, the golden age of the Pallava Kings and accordingly the golden age of Mahabalipuram followed in between 650 CE and 750 CE.
The Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram were profound thinker themselves as well patrons of art and culture. Along with poetry and literary scholasticism, architecture and sculpture hence also touched the zenith during the rule of the Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram. They engaged architects to rebuild the city in the 7th century CE, and the result was the monuments we can see in ruins today. After the Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram, the area was serially ruled by many dynasties, until conquered by the British. The modern town of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram was actually built up by the British towards the end of the nineteenth century CE.


Rathas of Mahavalipuram

Temples of Mahabalipuram


The Temples of Mahabalipuram are really something through which the Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram have made their names immortal. The relief works in the outside of those temples literally tell the stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and at the same time, metaphorically narrates the tale of the glory of the Pallava Kings of Mahabalipuram. The entire town of Mamallapuram is full with temples with beautiful sculptures and bas reliefs. The pavilions or the Mandapas and the Chariot Temples or Rathas of Mahabalipuram are the main attractions of the Mahabalipuram Temples. The five chariot temples or Pancha Rathas of Mahavalipuram are dedicated to the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. The Arjuna Penance of Mahabalipuram is also a major tourist attraction. The Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram is also another tourist attraction of Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram Timings and Entry Fees


1. The Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram is open from 6.00 am to 5.30 pm and the entry fees is Rs 10.

2. The Vishnu Cave Temple of Mahabalipuram is open from sunrise to sunset from Monday to Friday. The entry fee is Rs. 5.

3. The Krishna Mandapam of Mahabalipuram is open from sunrise to sunset from Monday to Friday. The entry fee is Rs. 5.

4. The Mahishasuramardini Mandapam of Mahabalipuram is open from sunrise to sunset from Monday to Friday. The entry fee is Rs. 5.

5. The Pancha Ratha of Mahabalipuram is open from sunrise to sunset from Monday to Friday. The entry fee is Rs. 10.


Hotels at Mahabalipuram


There are a number of quality hotels at Mahabalipuram. Here is a list of the best hotels at Mahabalipuram -

Fisherman's Cove
Kovalam
Mahabalipuram
Phone: 044-27472303

Golden Sun Hotel & Beach Resorts,
59, Kovelong Road
Mahabalipuram
Phone : +91-44-27442245 / 27442246 / 27442946

GRT Temple Bay,
Kovalam Rd
Mahabalipuram
Phone: 044-27443636

Mamalla Heritage
104, East Raja Street,
Mamallapuram-603104
Tamil Nadu
Phone : 044-27442060,27442260,27442360

Mamalla Beach Resort,
108, Kovalam Road
Mahabalipuram
Phone: 044-27442240/43

Quality Inn MGM Beach Resorts
1/74, East Coast Road,
Muttukadu
Phone: 044-27472435

KG Emerald Beach Hotel
East Coast Road, Devaneri Village
Mahabalipuram-603104
Tamil Nadu

Hotel Ideal Beach Resort
Mahabalipuram
Phone: 044-27442240/43

Route to Mahabalipuram


Air Route to Mahabalipuram: The Meenambakkam Airport of Chennai is the nearest airport of Mahabalipuram. The distance of this airport from Mamallapuram is 52 kms. Pre-paid taxis are readily available from the Airport for Mahabalipuram.
Road Route to Mahabalipuram: Mahabalipuram is by road well connected to Chennai, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Pondicherry.
Road Route to Mahabalipuram: Chennai Central is the nearest railhead of Mahabalipuram. The distance of this station from Mahabalipuram is more or less 55 kms. Chennai is connected to all the major stations of India.

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