Krishna’s Butter Ball
this huge boulder
perched precariously on a hill slope near the Ganesh
Ratha is an amazing marvel of nature. It is believed
that the Pallava kings tried their best with the
help of elephants, to move this boulder, but were
The beautiful beach
lined by the lush Casurina groves is another
attractions of Mamallapuram. One can enjoy swimming
in the serene warm blue sea, laze around on the
golden sands and admire the nature’s beauty. The
charming atmosphere during sun rise and sunsets is
truly amazing and worth enjoying.
Five rathas are the monolithic temples built in a chariot style. These rathas will always remain an architectural mystery, as each of these rathas are a faithful reproduction of a structure built of wood. Each of these rathas are dedicated to a particular god or goddess. Stone animals represent the vehicle of the god. Out of the eight
rathas, four rathas are supposed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation. The five rathas have been named after the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic
Mahabharata, and their shared wife, Draupadi. The largest ratha is the Dharmaraja ratha and it sets the tone for the others. This ratha is modelled on a Buddhist vihara or monastery, and support a square hall topped by a vaulting roof. The
Bhima, Arjuna and Nakula Sahdeva rathas are the lesser copies of the Dharmaraja
ratha. The Draupadi ratha is the smallest and the quaintest. It is simple structure, built as a thatched hut borned on the back of elephants and lions. It was probably the fascimile of a portable village shrine. The Nakula - Sahadeva Ratha is a two storeyed
vimana. This ratha is located beside an elephant which is the mount of Indra and suggests its dedication to the rain god.
Many of the temples and sculptures of Mamallapuram are unfinished due to the sudden withdrawal of patronage from rock-cut temples when King Rajasimhavarman
came to power.
The main hill at Mamallapuram is dotted with pillared halls carved into the rock face. These
mandapas, with their graceful columns and intricate figure sculptures bear witness to the
Pallavas. The ten pavilions at Mamallapuram, of which two are unfinished, were designed as shrine, with a sanctum and one outer hall. The shallow porticoes are adorned with exquisite sculptures of gods, goddesses and mythological figures. The main active shrine is the Ganesh
mandapa, with the idol of the Lord Ganesha standing for almost fourteen centuries after it was first constructed.
Beyond the circular rock called Krishna's Butterball is the Varaha mandapa dedicated to the two avatars of Vishnu as
Varaha, the boar and Vamana, the dwarf. The pillars of this pavilion display a motif that became the signature of the southern architecture. The Mahishasuramardini mandapa is dedicated to the goddess Durga in bas relief, slaying a buffalo-headed demon. The Vishnu Sayana Mandapa shows Lord Vishnu lying under the protective hood of the seven-headed serpent
Adishesha. The Panch Pandava mandapa,
that is unfinished, has a more elaborate facade. Its
pillars are adorned with rearing lions springing from
the capital, and the shrine is the only one surrounded
by a passage which allows circumvolutions.
Tiger Cave Temple
The Tiger Cave Temple is located 4 kms north of the main monument complex. Earth and animal life forces are represented in this great example of Pallava style cave architecture. The temple was earlier an open air theatre, where cultural programmes
were held. Though it is very near the sea, the place
is very serene and calm.
Crocodile & Snake Bank (15 kms.)
The ‘Crocodile Breeding and
Research Centre’ is run by Chennai Crocodile Bank Trust,
to augment the crocodile population of india’s wildlife
sanctuaries. The bank has managed to save crocodile
species like gharial and marsh crocodile from the verge
of extinction. The farm also has breeding programmes for
turtle species found in India. The Snake Bank is located
adjacent to the Crocodile Bank and is managed by Irula
Snake Catchers’ Industrial Cooperative Society. There
are several species of poisonous and non-poisonous
snakes. Irulas are the local tribesman who have
perfected the art of snake catching.
It is located south of the bus stand in East Raja Street
and has about 3000 exquisite sculpture made by local
artisans in wood, metal, brass and even cement. The
museum is associated with the College of Traditional art
and Architecture. Which has produced many fine
Penance is the largest bas relief sculpture in the
world. This structure has been skillfully carved out of
a single rock. It gets its name from the figure of an
ascetic who is believed to be Arjuna, the hero of
Mahabharata. The Arjuna performed a penance in order to
obtain an arrow from Lord Shiva. Some other people also
believe that the figure is actually of Bhagiratha who
entreated Siva to let the river Ganges flow over the
earth. Arjuna can be seen here standing on his left leg.
The event is witnessed by creatures from heaven, earth
and the underworld.
Yamini Krishnamurti Art Museum
The tiny museum is
located opposite to Arjua’s Penance and houses few small
Government College of Sculpture
It is located 2 kms.
North of Mamallapuram on the Kovlam Road. The processes
involved in making sculptures in classical Hindu
tradition can be seen here.
Kovilam (Covelong) (15 kms.)
small fishing village 38 kms. South of Chennai has
emerged as one of the finest beach resort in the
country. There are ruins of a large historic fort, part
of which have been converted into a luxurious resort –
the Fisherman’s Cove Resort of the Taj group. The Olive
Ridley Turtles visit the beach every year between
November and March to hatch their eggs.
Vedanthangal Water Bird Sanctuary (53 kms.)
is one of the major water bird sanctuaries in India. The
birds migrate here every year from November to February
from all over the world. The
sanctuary was established in 1858 and is the oldest in
the country. It sprawls across 30 hectares of marshy
land and has a lake, which is visited by over 1,00,000
migratory birds every year. The regular visitors to the
park are garganey teals, shovellers, pintails, stilts
and sandpipers. Resident birds like coots, moorhens and
terns can be seen all around the park. The nesting
season starts from October and the majority of birds are
through with breeding by the month of February. The best
time to visit is between November and February. The park
has two watch towers and one viewing platform, which
enables a better view of the avifauna. Regular buses are
available for Vedanathangal from Chennai, Tambaram or