Mamallapuram is famous for its stunning ancient stone carvings, including the world’s largest bas-relief.
Located on the Bay of Bengal 60km south of Chennai, the village itself is World Heritage listed. An enchanting little seaside town, Mamallapuram is easily explored on foot or bike. It’s easy to see why a good many business travellers to Chennai head here after their meetings to relax.
Most of the stone carvings, temples and manapams in Mamallapuram date to the Pallava dynasty of the 7th and 8th centuries. The sculptures have all been carved from the rock of the natural landscape – much of it granite – and are considered to be the oldest existing examples of Dravidian architecture.
The bas-reliefs are as extraordinary for the skill with which they’re made as for their depiction of ordinary life. Whereas much stonework of the time depicts complex religious symbolism, in Mamallapuram, the ancient carvings show such everyday scenes as women milking buffalo.
Stone carving is by no means just an ancient art in Mamallapuram. Some of the world’s best stone carvers still chip away at their wares in the city today and are internationally renowned for their work.
Mamallapuram hosts an important annual dance festival that showcases native dancing from throughout India for a month every December to January.
When to go:
The best time to visit Mamallapuram is from November to February when the weather is most pleasant. Tourist activities are severely hampered from June to September by hot and humid weather accompanied by heavy rainfall.
Located just off the East Coast Road (ECR) in Mamallapuram, the Radisson Blu beach resort offers 44 lush acres for relaxation. Stay in stylish villas and chalets just minutes from popular attractions like the Shore Temple while enjoying excellent features like two spas and two restaurants. Relax in the enormous meandering pool, browse the high-speed, wireless Internet access and host events in a pillarless ballroom.
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