Historical, Heritage, Pilgrimage
Tamil & English
Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, now known as Mamallapuram goes back to the Tamil Pallava dynasty, which ruled over a thousand years ago. Most of the carvings, monuments at the Mahabalipuram temple in the town are from that period.
This is a tourist centered town; most visitors are here to see the incredible monuments near to the Indian coastline. There are other activities though; visitors can even rent bikes, go on boat rides or go fishing or trekking. Look for a restaurant called Surf near the beach that offers activities to visitors. There are yoga courses available and some orphanages in the area may look for donations from visitors.
There is a lot of cheap and high quality street food in Mamallapuram. Look out for the street leading from the bus station to Shore Temple. Tourist orientated restaurants serve somewhat uninspired fare, although grilled fish with French fries can be a good deal.
Support local sculptors by buying from local artisans in the streets. For the best deals, shop around in the side streets as well as in the main road. Those looking for something different can learn to sculpt themselves- there are many willing teachers in the area, and a student can study full time from around 100 rupees per day. The specialty of the area is sculpture; it is a tradition that has been kept very much alive until the present day.
Don’t swim in the sea unless there is a designated lifeguard who says it is ok. The sea is unpredictable and can get rough without warning. There is a nuclear reactor in the area: don’t wander off into restricted areas or wander around late at night. Most restaurants close at around 11 and the town becomes quiet after that.
Get the bus to Mamallapuram from Chennai, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry or Chengalpattu. There is no train station here, so take train or plane to the nearest convenient point, and from there take the bus.