Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) - The Living Stones

Mahabalipuram Tourist Attractions

There are two legends available related to the naming of this town, One is King Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu hence it was named Mahabalipuram; and another Pallava King Narasimha Varman 1 a great wrestler was called as Mamallan, hence it was named as Mamallapuram, This town was created by the Pallava Dynasty and was the seaport of Pallava Dynasty between 7th and 10th Century. 650 - 750 AD was considered as the Golden Age of Pallava dynasty.

The Caves

There are nine cave temples which are cut in the rocks in Mamallapuram. These caves are famous for their real life depiction of incidents from the Hindu Mythology. There are Bas-reliefs in the various caves. In particular the carvings in the Krishna cave appears very real. Vishnu is seen in the cosmic sleep in Mahishasuramardhini cave. In contrast to peace here, the other portrayals of Goddess Durga is fighting the buffalo headed Demon.


There are eight mandapams located at various spots - the Dharmaraja, Kotikal, Mahishasura, Krishna, Pandava, Varaha, Ramanuja and Shiva mandapams. In these rock cut mandapams, there are sculptural reliefs depicting various stories from epics and mythology.

Krishna Mandapam 

In this mandapam, the scene of child Krishna holding aloft the Govardhana hill to protect the people of Gokulam from severe rains.

Mahishasuramardhini Mandapam

On one wall is depicted the scene of Goddess Durga mounted on a lion, destroying the evil asura with a buffalo head, Mahishasura. On the opposite wall is the scene of Lord Vishnu in repose (ananthasayanam) on the serpent Adisesha.

Varaha Mandapam

Two avatars of Lord Vishnu can be seen in this mandapam. On one wall is the scene of Lord Vishnu as Varaha (with a boar head), lifting Boomi Devi from under the ocean. On the other wall is the scene from Vamana avataram (dwarf brahmin boy).

Arjuna's Penance

This base relief, is an extensive panel (27 metres long and 9 metres high of relief sculptures, with life size images. This carving on the rock wall is the largest Bas-relief in the world. This is pride of Mamallapuram of which the simple but rich carving appear to come alive any moment. The rock is in the shape of a whale and it faces the sea.

The Five Radha's

The five rathas are mini shrines which are carved out of one rock constructed in the form of chariots. The Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna and Draupadi rathams have been carved out of one single boulder. The Chariots mark the evolution of Dravidian style of temple architecture.

Seashore Temple

Seashore Temple is a five-storied rock-cut structural temple more willingly than monolithical, one amongst the earliest and most important structural temples in southern India

Tiger Caves

This was originally an open air theater used to organise cultural programs. The sculpture of loins and tigers on the entrance of the cave gives it the name of Tiger Caves. It is very calm and serene even though it is set along the sea coast.

Sculpture and Art college, Sculpture Workshops, Handicrafts, long and beautiful sea shore attracts millions of tourist throughout the year. You need not have a season or reason to visit Mamallapuram. This site was included in the World Heritage Monuments list of UNESCO in 1984.