Start by choosing your preferred transport from Chennai to Mahabalipuram: opt for pickup in a private car and meet a guide at your Chennai hotel, or choose the classic motorcycle option, and meet the guide in Neelankarai for motorcycle orientation. The tour commences at 730AM from Chennai.
Begin the trip down the east coast road, then arrive at the UNESCO-listed site of Mahabalipuram by 9:30am.
Make the first stop of the day at the Pancharathas, or five chariots, a series of monolithic temples built by the Pallavas.These are rock cut monolith temples structures built in the 7th century. Each of the 5 rathas or chariots are dedicated to the lead cast of the Mahabharat epic- Draupadi, Arjuna, Nakul-Sahadeva, Bhima and Yudhister. There is also a sculpture of an elephant next to the ratha of Nakul-Sahadeva. Once you stand towards the rear of the elephant you will notice that there is an uncanny resemblance between the rear of the chariot and the elephant.
We next visit Arjuna’s Penace, a bas-relief monument that’s considered one of India’s most magnificent pieces of ancient art, depicting vivid scenes from the Mahabharata. The relief is 100 feet long and 45 feet tall! The main story being told is how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Lord Shiva's weapon.
The next stop is Krishna’s Butterball, a granite boulder that’s poised on a stony slope. This curious boulder seems to defy Newton's laws of gravity and has not moved an inch despite being in this precarious position on the slope for more than a thousand years.
Our last port of call is the Shore Temple. The magnificent temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal and was an important centre during the reign of the Pallavas when Mahabalipuram was the main port of their Kingdom. Built by King Raja Simha during the early 8th century, the Shore Temple is a landmark in the architectural landscape of India. Marco Polo referred to this as the seven pagodas. The existing temple is the last surviving of the 7 which once stood as a beacon for sea farers.
Depart Mahabalipuram by 3PM then finish the day at your departure point by 5PM
Monuments at Mahabalipuram
Sea Shore Temple
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