Exploring the World Heritage Site - Group of Monuments Mahabalipuram
16.08.2013 - 17.08.2013
The Group of Monuments Mahabalipuram is a World Heritage Site comprising of rock and rock cut cave temples/monuments scattered around Mahabalipuram, most of them built during the time of Pallava dynasty ruler Narasimhavarman-I (7th Century AD). Being a small place, all the monuments are walk-able from one another, so I do recommend walk!
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) managed site is relatively well maintained and is organized into 3 scattered groups -
- Sea Shore Temple, located right on the beach.
- The group comprising of an open rock sculpture (Arjuna's Penance), numerous rock cut cave temples (Ganesha Ratham, Varaha cave, Krishna Mandapam, Trimurti Cave and Mahishasura Mardhini cave) and a large dangerously balanced rock (locally known as God Krishna's ball of butter).
- The group of 5 monolithic rock cut temples (each temple was cut from a single rock!), known as the Pandava Rathas (referring to the 5 Pandava brothers of Hindu epic Mahabharata).
There is a single entrance fee for all these 3 groups (onetime entry for each group and ticket validity only on the day of purchase) and could be purchased either at the ASI counter at the Shore temple or the one at Pandava Rathas group.
Entrance fees and timings:
- INR 10 for Indian, SAARC and BIMSTEC citizens whereas it is INR 250 (5 USD) for others. No fee for camera use.
- 6 am - 6 pm.
Sea Shore Temple and Pandava Rathas should be easily covered in 30 min-1 hr each whereas it should take about 1 - 1.5 hrs to cover the group that starts at Arjuna's Penance. So, overall, assuming relaxed travel, all the 3 groups can be covered in about 3 - 4 hrs. With the Town bus stand on E Raja Street as reference - the Shore temple is 200 m down the beach road, the Arjuna's Penance group is 200 m away in the opposite direction whereas the Pandava Rathas group is 1 km away on the Mada Koil Street.
There is also a handicrafts shopping zone just before the Pandava Rathas group, with shops mostly selling rock/marble sculptures, embroideries and other handicrafts. Though we didn't buy anything there, we did roam around the zone and the handicraft quality was good. But if you plan to buy, do inspect the item clearly and bargain on the prices. There is no such thing as fixed price!!
Best time to visit the Shore Temple is either in the morning before the sun is overhead or in the evening. The other monuments can be covered based on your choice but avoid the time around noon, as it would be quite hot. Do keep a bottle of water handy.
Now for the snaps..