Finding ourselves in the Pallava Land

Posted in MAHABALIPURAM by pedhakka on March 5, 2009

There are things in life that we ignore just so because they are at a proximity. Everyone of us include so many places to our “To go places list” but forget to cherish the places that are near by where we live. Such was Mahabalipuram for me. I have lived all my life in Chennai but have been to Mahabalipuram only once as a kid. At the end of the trip I couldn’t be more ashamed of myself for ignoring such a valuable monument.

With two weddings in the family it was already an hectic trip but we surely did not want to miss Mahabalipuram and so decided to do an early morning trip so that we could be back by the time business kicks in the day. Also we were so bugged with so busy days we wanted a break. Waking up at 4.30am was a little challenge but nevertheless we wanted to make it come what may!! Driving in chennai during wee hours is a pleasure with hardly any traffic. It was already an hour into the drive, we crossed Muthukaadu, we realised that our plan of watching the sunrise at seashore temple is not going to happen but we kept on driving.

Exactly 5 minutes after muthukaadu we spotted this a small lake on our left with a long line ot coconut tress just next to the Muthukaadu Experiment station. We stopped our car to take a couple of pictures of the lake. To our astonishment, the sun suddenly started peeping out from behind the coconut trees. It was a bliss. I personally have never seen a sunrise so beautiful in my life that too in our very own chennai. It was a perfect sunrise. The timing was so perfect that I felt that it was gods own gift to us.  We headed back again and took an halt in the britannia park – a small park on the side of the road, had our breakfast and yeah took some pictures too.



Next stop was
Tiger cave. Although this place does not have the attention it deserves, I was a little happy to see a watchman watering the grass and the way the little garden was maintined. The happiness was short lived when he demanded for some money when we left the place and would not leave us alone after I gave 10 Rs. He wanted more !!Some locals have built a small temple(very small) next to this and called it Tsunami temple.

tigers cave


40kms from thiruvanmiyur railway station when you drive on the East Coast Road.Its in Salurankuppam 5kms N of  Mahabalipuram.You will pass the Toll gate.To and fro trip to Mahabalipuram is Rs.45



The sunrise was not the only best thing of the day. The best was yet to come. As soon as we entered in to the five rathas, there was a newly weds who were taking pictures of themselves. My husband approached  them to do them a favor and take a pic of both of them. He also kick started some conversation with them and we found the best guide any one can ask for. The groom was a graduate from the mammallpuram university of arts and scultptures. He knew everything about Mahabalipuram, its history, its significance, what each of the statues meant, the various important spots in mahabalipuram and most of all he had immense patience to explain us each and every detail.


The Seven Pagodas are sculpted out of a rock.The rock is carved from downwards into a rocky outcrop and creates architectural volumes of a sculptural character.There are named after the Pancha Pandava brothers,heroes in the epic Mahabharata.The first ratha shaped like a hut is Dranpadi Ratha.Then Arjuna ratha ,Bhima ratha, Dharmaraja ratha and the Naskula Sahadeva ratha.The other scuptures are the Nandi,the Bull and elephant.


Continue on East Coast Road for another 6kms. The road splits into 2 and you have to stay on the left and have to pay a  entrance fee of Rs.20.Then follow the sign boards.Entrance fee for the Five ratha is Rs.20 for 2.


The lighthouse is built on top of a large rock at Mahabalipuram, an ancient celebrated port city about 60 km south of Chennai. Next to the new lighthouse stands the old light house.The new lighthouse is a stone tower with the lantern dome painted red, whereas the old one was built around 640 AD by south Indian Pallava dynasty king called Mamalla.It is also called as Isvara temple.From the top of the Old Lighthouse, we can see the new Lighthouse, the Five rathas and also the Shore templeIn fact, during the 2004 tsunami, an ancient port city and parts of a temple built in the seventh century were uncovered.


It is one of the oldest south Indian temple which was constructed in the Dravidian period.It has been listed among the world heritage sites of the UNESCO.The central shrine of the shore temple has a magnificent statue of Lord Vishnu in Ananthasayana which means Vishnu is sleeping posture.The whole temple is surrounded by mandapas and rock cut of lions.The temple looks beautiful in the evening espically during the sun set.


After Tsunami the Government has placed big boulders around the seashore to avoid the waves from further damaging this great piece of art.By now, the sun had scorched us and we were tired so we headed back toAfter spending some quality time in the shore temple, we finally were tired anback to the city.


Its less than a km from the Arjuna’s Penance.There is a parking and entrance fee.

Driving Directions from Thiruvanmiyur Railway Station

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