The reason Chennai is the massive bustling metropolitan it is now is thanks to its origins as a coastal port town. Recent history suggests that Chennai became a port when the East India Company decided to build a pier to ease cargo transport into the country in 1861. But older transcripts suggest all of Tamil Nadu has been scattered with port towns, all the way between Chennai and Tirunelveli ever since the 3rd Century BCE.
A close cousin of Chennai is Mamallapuram, or more commonly known as, Mahabalipuram. Another port town, in its own right, Mahabalipuram was used by the Pallavas as one of the most crucial ports in the North of Tamil Nadu. Mahabalipuram, also known as ‘The abode of Pallavas,’ lives up to its name. Throughout the town, you can find temples and statues reliving tales of old and legends of the past. Situated roughly 50 kilometers from Chennai, it is the closest UNESCO heritage site and that is exactly why you need to visit this town.
Places To See
The first place you must visit is the ‘Pancha Rathas’ – one of the earliest examples of Indian Monolithic Architecture. The Pancha Rathas resemble five Chariots each sculpted from a single block of granite, and each paying homage to a different god. Another must-visit place is the Pallava Heritage Site where you can find the bas-relief sculptures ‘Descent of the Ganges,’ depicting the descent of the holy river from Heaven to Earth, and ‘Arjuna’s Penance,’ depicting all the events that occurred during the period of his penance. If you have more time to kill, you should also visit the Shore temple. The 7th Century temple is said to have been a part of a series of structures called the ‘Seven Pagodas.’ For centuries, these Seven Pagodas have acted as a landmark for navigation by European merchants who arrived at the port of Mahabalipuram. According to Indian and European myths, seven temples once stood along Mahabalipuram’s shore; however, this was the only one that supposedly survived.
Planning your trip
Mahabalipuram is located about an hour’s drive from Chennai, but taking in all the attractions without rushing yourself will cost you the evening. If you are staying with us a t Hanu Reddy Residences, our receptionist would gladly make travel arrangements to drive you around for the whole day. Locals suggest starting your trip by heading to Thiruvanmyur beach to watch the sunrise and later driving to Mahabalipuram after having breakfast in the city. And if you loved learning more about the history of Tamil Nadu and want to take a piece of it back home, keep an eye out for local sculptors along the way. You can find epic statues to decorate your living space! On the way back, keep an eye out for amazing seafood joints along the East Coast Road where you can explore South Indian Cuisine at its finest. Most importantly, do not forget to take pictures and have a story worth writing home about!