Located 58 km southwards of Chennai, Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is one of the most popular destinations of Tamil Nadu. There are 2 legends behind the names of this place. The place is named Mahabalipuram after its ancient ruler King Mahabali who was killed by Lord Vishnu. The name Mamallapuram comes from Pallava ruler Narsimha Varman I. He was a great wrestler who was given the title of Mamallan. With an exotic sea line of 20 km, it attracts national as well as foreign tourists alike in huge numbers. Mahabalipuram was developed as a thriving seaport by the rulers of Pallava Dynasty, between 7th and 10 century. 650 - 750 AD was measured as the ‘Golden Age of Pallavas’.
Mahabalipuram is also known for being home to Group of Monuments that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The place is celebrated for its temples in the form of Rathas (chariots), Mandapams (cave sanctuaries), massive open-air remnants like the famed 100 ft long Arjuna Penance/ Descent of the Ganges, as well as the Rivage temple that comprises of several splendid sculptures of Lord Shiva. Handicrafts, Sculpture Workshops, Sculpture and Art college, and exotic sea shore of Mahabalipuram are prime charmers for the tourists visiting the place all year round.
These architectural gems were added by UNESCO in its world heritage list in the year 1984. Organized between the months of December and January, Mamallapuram Dance Festival draws champions of various classical dance forms such as Mohini Attam, Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali and Kuchipudi. This event is attended by tourists from all around the country and the globe.