Jun 13

Tours to India: The stone temples of Mamallapuram

by in India

Professionally and courteously covering every service required for a delightful, safe and memorable holiday, luxury India tours are the most sensible way to enjoy a carefree visit to this fascinating country. Coordinating international flights, complete baggage handling, comfortable tour transportation, five-star accommodations, scrumptious meals and experienced local guides, a comprehensive tour service will ensure that all your time and attention will be focused solely on experiencing India.

Since India is the bustling home of about one sixth of the world’s population, you’ll likely want to choose one region in which to concentrate your exploration on luxury India tours. If southern India is your cup of tea, be sure to allocate some time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site complex of ancient stone temples in Mamallapuram.

Located on India’s southeast coast approximately 300 km due east of Bangalore, Mahabalipuram was a port city hub for major trade routes in the 7th century. Known now as Mamallapuram, this moderately-sized tourist town is world-famous for its intricately carved granite structures dating to the Tamil Pallava Dynasty. Although the 2004 tsunami altered the landscape, the drive south from Chennai to Mamallapuram along the Bay of Bengal is pleasant enough. Taxis may be hired for reasonable rates, and biking is a popular way to see the sights once in town.

Mamallapuram’s temples

Mamallapuram’s temples, whose carvings portray events from the classic text of the Mahabharata, exemplify the transition from rock-cut architecture to the freestanding structural building that developed in the 5th century. Constructed in the 8th century from fine bricks of carved granite, Shore Temple features an imposing bas-relief 100 feet long. The Five Rathas site contains stone chariots and huge animal sculptures. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Thirukadalmallai Temple was commissioned by a Pallava king for protection from the sea. Carved out of the rock face in the central hillside area, visitors will discover the enormous sculpture called Arjuna’s Penance. Precariously perched Krishna’s Butterball and the Mahishamardini and Varaha Caves are accessed via a series of stone stairways leading through the forest.

Other activities in Mamallapuram include yoga camps, surfing lessons, boat rides, ocean fishing, hilltop trekking and sea turtle walks during nesting season. Local street artisans carve stone sculptures for purchase and will teach you their craft. The Sculpture Museum has hundreds of sculptures in stone and wood. Tourists can feed crocodiles 15 km north of town at Vadanemmeli. Known for its spectacular views, Eagle Temple is a short bus ride west of Mamallapuram.

Part of the quintessential India experience involves making your way through large clusters of beggars, snake charmers, gypsies, worshippers and other tourists, so just be prepared to grin and bear with the masses while absolutely loving your luxury India tour!

Visit Virgin Holidays Worldwide Journeys for more info on tours to India.

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