Visit the famous temples and holy places of India on a full-day trip from Mahabalipuram to Chennai. See the Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance, and the Five Rathas, and achieve a sense of calm and peace on your visit to these sacred shrines.
What to Expect
Spend a full day seeing sites of spiritual importance on a tour from Chennai to Mahabalipuram.
After pick-up from your hotel in the morning, you will set out on a 34 mile (55 kilometer) drive that lasts about 1.5 hours. Mamallapuram, popularly known as Mahabalipuram, is famous for its splendid 7th and 8th century art and architecture, especially the stone carvings. The city is home to a wonderful combination of heritage monuments, empty stretches of sandy beaches with wonderful seafood, and scenes from daily Indian life.
Here you can visit the 7th-century magnificent Shore Temple, which is surrounded by lush gardens. Admire Arjuna's Penance, a 1,900-square-foot rock block, and see rock cut caves from the 6th and 7th centuries. In addition, you’ll visit the 7th-century Five Rathas shrine which is the world's largest stone relief.
The Shore Temple (built in 700-728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a 5-story structural Hindu temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century. It is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. The temple is a combination of 3 shrines: 2 Shiva shrines with the small Vishnu shrine in between. This work of genius was recognized and listed amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Arjuna's Penance is one of the most famous stone carvings at Mahabalipuram. It is carved onto the back side of a whale-shaped rock. These bas-reliefs, carved in the 7th century, are among the largest in the world. One of the biggest open-air rock canvases in the world, the Arjuna's Penance is 101 feet (31 meters) long and 29.5 feet (9 meters) high. The surface of the rock has detailed carvings, showing the most endearing and natural renditions of animals, especially the elephants and monkeys. Arjuna's Penance is a famous rock sculpture that portrays a story out of India lore. The subject of the carving is either how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities so that he could obtain Lord Shiva's weapon to destroy his enemies, or an illustration of how King Bhagiratha brought the River Ganges down to earth so that the souls of his ancestors could rest in peace.
The Five Rathas is also known as Panch Rathas, an example of monolith Indian rock-cut architecture dating from the late 7th century. The shrines represent diversity of Dravidian architecture of the time and it is likely that their original design traces back to wood constructions. These temples are built in the same shape as pagodas, and greatly resemble Buddhist shrines and monasteries. They were carved during the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. The purpose of their construction is not known, and the structures are not completed. Each temple is a monolith, carved whole from a rock outcropping of pink granite.
After visiting these sites, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon free to rest on the beach. In the evening, you can explore this small town, where you can also see the soapstone workers making designs and sculptures with chisel and hammer. At the end of the day you will drive back to Chennai.
- Sightseeing and excursions as per itinerary
- English-speaking guide
- Entrances fees to the monuments
- All applicable taxes and service charges
What's Not Included
- Any air and train fare
- Medical insurance
- Any expenses arising out of unforeseen circumstances like flight delay/cancelation/hike in
- fare, strike, or any other natural calamities
- Personal nature expenses i.e. telephone calls, laundry, soft or hard drinks, meals, tipping, etc.
- Camera fee at monuments