The little seaside town of Mammalapuram, an hour's drive from Chennai, has a beautiful beach spanning 20 km. The 7th century town is famous for its rock-hewn temples, sculptures and the world's largest stone bas relief. A crocodile farm, snake venom extracting centre, schools of art and sculpture and a wide choice of resorts along the beach draw holiday-seekers all round the year, especially during the Dance Festival held in January-February.
There are nine rock cut temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, depicting the goddess fighting a demon on one side and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one.
A bas relief, notable for its realistic representation. The panel relates to one of the stories of Lord Krishna.
This is the world's largest bas relief measuring 27m X 9m. This huge whale-backed rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts, birds and almost all of the entire creation. And, this is easily the pride of Mamallapuram.
There are the five monolithic temples, each created in a different style. They are also known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas - and four out of the five rathas are supposed to have been carved out of a single rock.
This is one of the oldest temples. Unique about this temple is the fact that it houses shrines for both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. This belongs to the early 8th century AD and it is a classic example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in pure Dravidian style.
Here training is imparted in the various branches of temple art and architecture, according to Silpa Sastra.
Is situated about 14 kms. away from Mamallapuram. Over 5000 crocodiles representing 6 different species are maintained here. There are also numerous other types of rare reptiles.
The remains of the fort have now been converted into a luxury beach resort which offers facilities for windsurfing and swimming, an ancient Catholic Church, a mosque and the ruins of the fort make interesting viewing from this 5 Star hotel.
This tourist spot has a small Shiva temple situated on the top of the Vedagiri hill which is 160m high. Just before noon everyday, two White kites stop at the temple and are fed by the temple priests. Legend has it that these two birds are actually saints who daily make a stop to rest at the temple on their flight between Varanasi and Rameswaram. There is also a larger Shiva Temple in the town below. At the South-East end of the town is a spacious tank whose waters are said to have curative powers. Once every 12 years, a conch is discovered in this tank and thousands of devotees flock to bathe in the tank at this auspicious time. A collection of the conches is displayed in the larger Shiva Temple.
This is an ideal picnic spot. T.T.D.C, runs a Boat House, where facilities for boating and wind surfing are available.