Are you keen to learn about the cultural and traditional history of South India? Then visiting the Shore temple Mahabalipuram should be on your bucket list. I planned a day’s trip to Mahabalipuram and I must say it was a majestic and soul-satisfying experience.
The majestic legend of Indian heritage stands tall on the shores of Tamil Nadu. The city is popularly known for its beaches, stone cut temples, and UNESCO Heritage Site group of monuments. The shore temple is the main attraction of this city. It is located in the ancient port city of Mahabalipuram on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal.
Built-in the seventh century this temple draws inspiration from the sea and naturally occurring granite boulders. The temple is an exemplary architectural marvel that depicts ancient Indian finesse of art. This splendid temple is listed as the UNESCO heritage site of India. The serenity and divinity of the temple attract thousands of pilgrims and tourists from across the globe. The city is conveniently reachable from anywhere in India and abroad. This makes it a favorite spot for devotes and history seekers.
Let’s delve into the history and structural magnificence of the temple.
The Shore temple has been built into three shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. There is a Shivalingam in the Grabhagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) which spreads is amiable grandeur across the temple. The other shrine manifests the extravagance of Ksatriyasimnesvara. The third shrine, dedicated to Lord Vishnu has been portrayed recycling the Seshanag. The temple is carved and sculpted in ornate designs depicting the Pallava dynasty art. This temple of Mahabalipuram is popular for showcasing the great traditional dance form of the city organized in January and February.
History Of Shore Temple Mahabalipuram
As per legends, the Shore temple Mahabalipuram was initially a part of Seven Pagodas, an old Hindu prodigy. The temple stood tall with its gigantic structure along the coast of Bay of Bengal. The sailors considered this colossal structure as a landmark for navigating their ships. This artistic temple is the creation of the kings of the 7th century. The architectural structuring of the temple started with cave temples and the monolith Rathas. The sophistication, styling, and completion of this magnificent sight have been credited to King Narasimhavarman II Pallava Empire.
The Tsunami that hit the shore of Coromandel in December 2004 exposed an old distorted temple and threw light on many speculations about Mahabalipuram. This temple was built entirely of granite blocks. It was stated that the six temples out of the seven pagodas remain submerged in the depth of the waters even today. The flood also revealed some ancient sculptures of lion, elephants, and peacocks incorporated in the walls of the temples in the artistic reign of the Pallava dynasty.
Shore Temple Architecture
I hired a guide here who showed me through the details of the temple and significance of various stone structures and architectural significance. The sculptures and carvings are a blend of Indo-Chinese art and culture. This was the reason why PM Narendra Modi and Chinese president Mr. Xi Jinping visited this iconic locale on his trip to India.
Shore Temple Mahabalipuram was built by the Pallava kings in the 7th century. The magnificent stone temple has a rock-cut pyramidal structure which comprises of 5 storeys. The temple stands on a natural granite boulder. The topmost part of the temple is decorated with stunning carvings and figurines.
The pyramidal structure is 60 feet tall atop a 50 feet square platform. The shore temple complex beautifully showcases the Dravidian style architecture mixed with the elite art and history of its era. It was designed to capture the first rays of the rising sun and catch hold of the calm waters after dusk. It served as a landmark for the sailors by day and beacon by the night. The grand temple is surrounded by various mandapas and elaborately carved walls. A rock-cut lion, buffalo demon carving, and many others captivate the visitors. The temple looks like a chariot from the shore.
The temple consists of three shrines, all standing erect on the same platform. The main structure of the temple faces east for the sun rays to fall on the principal deity of Shiva Linga. The temple was built in granite stones heaved from the nearby excavation. The Vishnu shrine is the oldest and smallest of the construction. Years of sea-erosion and wind have worn away the details of the magnificent carvings. Recent excavations have revealed many underwater structures and stone monuments lying deep within the sea and sand. This much to be explored region definitely deserves a visit.
12 Things To Do In Mahabalipuram For A Fun-Filled Trip
I started my day early in the morning and was able to cover most places on my list by evening. I recommend you to indulge in numerous activities while on a trip to Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram is near to Chennai and Pondicherry, so it can be your next weekend gateway too. Here are some highly popular things to do in this stone city of Tamil Nadu.
- Arjuna’s Penance: The legend of the river Ganga descent to earth is depicted on the walls of this monument. This is a UNESCO world heritage site with a total of 146 carvings that you cannot miss while traveling to Mahabalipuram.
- Pancha Ratha: Be enticed with the splendor of the stone cut solid structures of antiquated India – The Rathas.
- Shore Temple: It is a popular landmark in the city. The excellent carving on the walls and enticing architectural beauty will captivate your souls.
- Beacon: There are two beacons in Mahabalipuram. The latest one is more advanced and was built when nationwide trade started. On you climb the top of the beacon you will gasp at the spectacular view of the surroundings.
- Krishna’s Chunk: This is another popular stone-carved site at 7 minutes walking distance from the Pancha Rathas. Adjusted on the slope, this stone carve sanctuary is a delight to watch and take pictures.
- India Seashell Museum: If you’re one of those passionate shell lovers, then this is a must-visit place in the city. You’ll be amazed at the collection of different sizes, shapes, and colors of the shells here.
- Cavern Temples: History buffs must explore the temples and sanctuaries on their next trip to Mahabalipuram. All of these sanctuaries are sublime. Carved from single granite rocks obtained from the quarry, these sanctuaries are worth a visit.
- Beaches: Being on the coastline, you can enjoy the cool waters and relax on the beaches of Mahabalipuram. You may also indulge in adventure activities like camping, windsurfing, and kite surfing here.
- Crocodile Farm: This reptile farm is located at 15-17 km from Mahabalipuram on the east coast road on the way to Chennai. India has very few croc farms and this one is remarkably one of the biggest crocodile farms in the southern part of our country.
- Fairs and Festivals: Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is a popular celebration of the city. Held in December-January it draws specialists, dancers, and tourists from across the nation. Classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Kathakali are performed against the backdrop of Pallava shake figurines.
- Shopping: Shop your heart out and take some souvenirs created from seashells and stone sculptures with you. You can buy some silk sarees and bronze statues also from the street vendors near the beaches. They also organize flea markets with reasonably priced products.
- Fishing Safari: Opting for a fishing tour is one of the offbeat things to do in Mahabalipuram. Fishing safari allows you to experience and live the life of a fisherman for two hours. It’s the must-do thing with your family. Catch live fishes and enjoy them on your camping site by the beach.
Timing To Visit Shore Temple
6 AM to 6 PM
Best Time To Visit
Taking climatic conditions into consideration, the best time to visit the Shore temple is during the months of October to March. Travelers prefer visiting the place during monsoons to view spectacular landscapes and enjoy rains on the beach.
During the day it is advisable to visit the temple at sunrise or sunset. The picturesque beauty of the temple against the alluring shades of the sky will leave you awe-struck. You can also escape the scorching sun during the day and enjoy the cool breeze on your visit to the temple dawn and dusk.
How To Reach
Mahabalipuram is well connected to other popular destinations of Tamil Nadu and South India. You can take a bus or car from Kanchipuram, Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram. The Shore temple Mahabalipuram is located at a distance of 59.2 km from Chennai International Airport and 27.2 km from Otivakkam railway station. Once you reach Mahabalipuram hire taxi or walk your way to the temple. It will not take you more than 1.5 hours drive from Chennai or Pondicherry to reach this iconic locale by the sea.
Tips For Visiting Shore Temple
- Carry a camera to capture the beauty of the temple and surrounds it in your frame.
- Still photography is allowed for no extra charge but for videography, you must pay a minimal charge of ₹ 25.
- The sale of entry tickets to the temple closes at 5:30 pm.
- The surrounding stone monuments can be visited free of charge
- Visit the temple during dawn and dusk to benefit from the cool breeze on the shore and panoramic views.
- Don’t litter around or scribble on the sculptures. Pledge to preserve our historical monuments today.
- For Indian citizens: ₹10
- For kids below 15 years: free entry
- Foreign nationals: US $5
South India has loads to offer to every visitor throughout the year. Mahabalipuram leaves no stones unturned. The stone cut monuments are reminders of antiquate relics of India. Human artistry coupled with assiduous workmanship produced the most intriguing temples and sanctuaries. The shore temple Mahabalipuram is located on the coastline of Tamil Nadu and is an ideal tourist spot to enjoy the breathtaking views of the vast sea and learn about our country’s history and splendor.
Hope you have liked my quest on Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram and will visit here soon.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The Pallavan king Rajasimha/Narasimhavarman II built the shore temple of Mahabalipuram. It is the oldest structural temple carved in the stones with divine significance in South India.
Being one of the most ancient cities of Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram is known for its great stone monuments, temples, cave sanctuaries, monoliths and of course beaches.
Yes, the extravagant sight of sculptures and monoliths in this historical city is worth a visit. The monuments of Mahabalipuram are amazing specimen of Dravidian architecture and Pallava Art. This is a quite city that must be on your bucket list if you want to unravel the beauty of stone carved history.
You can explore all the temples and monuments in Mahabalipuram and relax on the beach in a day. Book your day trip with any travel agency or set on to explore it yourself. Avoid visiting places in the afternoon as the temperature rises and it can be pretty hot.
Yes, Mahabalipuram is a local destination where you can book Ola travel within the city. You can book a mini or micro for your ride around the place. Rental packages and one way drop ride can also be arranged. Check your Ola app for more details.
From souvenirs to shawls, you can buy a variety of goods from the shores of Mahabalipuram. The street vendors sell amazing stuff like pashmina shawls, leather sandals, bags, handcrafted items, bronze statues, and more. You can find attractive seashell items on the shore temple road at reasonable prices. Don’t miss to grab a couple of silk sarees when in Mahabalipuram.
The sun seems to be very harsh at the shores of Tamil Nadu. We recommend you cover your hands and legs well before you get outdoors, else you might get a good dose of tanning or worst skin burns. All the monuments in the city are located at a walking distance of 5-7 minutes from each other. This is why you can explore most of the city on a day’s trip.
The Shore Temple is identified as a part of the Seven Pagodas which hosts three shrines inside the temple. Two shrines are devoted to Lord Shiva and the other to Lord Vishnu. This temple was built to illustrate a balance between different competing religious requirements.