Escorted Rail Tours to Mamallapuram
Discover a beguiling Indian town famed for its stone carvings
Situated on India's north-eastern coast in the state of Tamil Nadu, the ancient town of Mamallapuram has much to recommend it. A popular resort in its own right, Mamallapuram boasts a long, white-sand beach from which to admire an Indian sunset, a host of shops and enticing fish restaurants and numerous attractions both natural and man-made.
These highlights are eclipsed, however, by Mamallapuram's main claim to fame and the reason for which it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town is renowned for its ancient and intricately carved stone monuments. Two beautifully detailed bas-reliefs, 'Arjuna's Penance' and the 'Krishna Mandapa' are carved into vast granite rock faces at the centre of the town whilst elsewhere full-sized sculptures of chariots and temples, known as rathas and each skilfully hewn from a single boulder can be found.
Overlooking the beach, the exquisite Shore Temple, the last remaining of seven ancient pagodas is the jewel in Mamallapuram's crown and one of the most photographed landmarks in India.
During the Pallava dynasty between the fifth and the ninth centuries, Mamallapuram was an important a sea port for routes to Southeast Asia, and whilst the exact reason for the town's association with sculpture remains subject to speculation, some believe that the area also served as a seat of learning for artisans, sculptors and architects.