The capital of Tamil Nadu is Chennai. There is a town called Mahabalipuram in the district of Kancheepuram which is approximately 60 kms from Chennai which is renowned for its temple which was formerly known as Mammalapuram. In the course of time, due to cultural dilutions, people forgot that the temple is called Mammalapuram and instead started calling the temple itself as Mahabalipuram. However, Mahabalipuram is the village and not the temple. It has an average elevation of about 12 meters.

It is believed that there are more than 100 different temples in Mahabalipuram itself. It is considered one of the most ancient and renowned location in Tamil Nadu among many others. It is built right beside the sea shore. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the 7th century, Mammalapuram was considered a capital of Narsimhavarman I who was a Pallava Raja at the time. The name of the town is derived from ‘Maha-malla’; which was an epithet used to refer to Narsimhavarman I meaning ‘great wrestler’. This was because the main sport of the Pallavas during that time was wrestling. The temple was also built according to the rules and regulations set in the Dravidian architectural system which expresses the sentiment of central leadership. This temple, built along the shores hosts various idols of Shiva and many more small temples within the same area.

Through the study of this temple’s architecture, we can understand the thought process behind the making of the idols and how they came to be in the way that they are. Visual language is the highlight of this temple, meaning that instead of writing down the history of the construction, it is made evident through the construction of the idols itself. This makes it comprehensible for anyone, without the barrier of any language. There are very few ancient temples in India which can be studied in this manner.

The famous chariot is situated to the south of the temple. It is named Pandav Rath based on the 5 Pandava brothers in the mythological epic Mahabharata. There was a rock at the entrance of Mahabalipuram which was destroyed. A pavilion for the deity Krishna was constructed in its place. This pavilion has inscriptions of the life of the villagers carved into it.

The story of how Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain on his finger to protect villagers is also inscribed beautifully in stone. The carvings and idols have not remained as definite and sharp as they were made due to the elements. However, the beauty in simplicity is exuded perfectly in this temple. There are various yellowish idols around the temple. The highlight of these stones is that they don’t heat up a lot however harsh the sunlight is. Moreover, the cave is also very famous. This cave is the subject of many researchers’ interest besides being the place for the 4 gatekeepers of King Pallava.