FACTS AND FIGURES
Beach Area : 20 km (altogether).
Best Time to Visit : October to March
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram beach is famous for its centuries old Cave Temple. Now a day the Mahabalipuram beach is becoming more popular due to its historical significance and beautiful beaches. It offers much to the tourists who are interested on beach holidays. The emergence of good hotels and other facilities are the clear evidence of the growth of popularity of this beach. Apart from the foreign tourists many domestic tourists are also finds Mahabalipuram as their getaway for holidays.
Mahabalipuram is situated just 60 km off Chennai on the Bay of Bengal coast. Mahabalipuram is extended from Latitude 12o 37' in the North to Longitude 80o 14' in the East.
It is better to visit this place during October to March. One is advised to avoid the monsoon period. Climate of Mahabalipuram is very much influenced by the sea, due to its closeness to it. Rainfall continues throughout the year and the climate remains hot and sultry. There is almost uniform temperature whole year with a maximum of 35o C and minimum of 19o C.
HISTORY OF POPULARITY
Though Mahabalipuram is famous for its Shore Temple and other cave temples, built in the reign of great Pallava kings, the beaches won much recognition later in the second half of 20th century. Now Mahabalipuram is a mascot to the tourists to get rid of modernity by being on the lap of Mother Nature.
The main activities are the surfing, sunbathing, local sight seeing etc. On request the local fisher folk can arrange sea cruises in the country crafts. Angling can also be done with the help of the fishermen. The deep-sea angling is also famous here. Surfboards and boogie boards can also be hired on the beach. Sunrise and sun set watching cruises are another attraction.
PRIVATE BEACHESWith the emergence of Mahabalipuram as a major beach in Tamil Nadu, many private beach resorts are mushroomed. There is a wide choice of resorts along the beach. Fisherman's Cove, a private beach resort offers water sports apart from its magnificent beach area. Some resorts are also having beachfront restaurants.
VICINITYJust 5 km north of Mahabalipuram is Tiger Caves, a rock-cut shrine, possibly dating from 7th century. Tirukkalikundram, around 14 km from Mahabalipuram, is a pilgrimage center. The place has a hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Just 14 km from Mahabalipuram is a crocodile-breeding center. At this center about 5000 crocodiles of 6 different species are there. There is also a snake farm where anti venom is produced. This center is one of the most successful reptile breeding centers in India.
An ideal place for water sports and an excellent picnic spot, Muttukadu is 21 km from Mahabalipuram. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has a boathouse here. The visitors can enjoy boating, canoeing & kayaking and wind surfing. The 'Dakshina Chitra of Madras Craft Foundation' here has replica of an old agricultural house of Tamil Nadu, replica of Kanchipuram weavers house and replicas of ancient houses presenting the life style of South India.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALSThe Pongal festival celebrated in mid January every year is the most important of festival not only in Mahabalipuram, but also in most parts of South India.
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is an occasion for the dance lovers to enjoy the performances of the artists from all parts of the country. The Festival is celebrated in the month of January-February every year. The shore temple forms the backdrop of this festival and the music from the musical instruments mixes with the natural music of wind and the sea.
March is the time to celebrate Sthalasayana Perumal temple festival. At this time over twenty thousand pilgrims arrive here.
The Brahmothsavam festival is celebrated during April- May, which lasts for ten days. The Palanquin Festival is celebrated in October- November every year.
The Holy family church (Roman Catholic) festival is celebrating for ten days during first week of January.
TRADITION AND DRESS CODENudity is strictly prohibited in Mahabalipuram like in any other parts of India. Topless parade of ladies is also banned here. To suit to the local dress code Lungi is available in all shops.
SHOPPINGHere the sculptures in various sizes and beautiful shapes are made out of stone. These images include deities for temples and other forms for restoration works. One can buy these images and statues at several handicraft emporiums scattered around the city.
Some marvelously carved wooden images of Hindu Gods are also offered in the shops. Jewelers and other items are also available. In Mahabalipuram one can always find decorative items made from seashells.
ACCOMMODATIONSeveral types of accommodation options are available in Mahabalipuram fitting every pocket. The best option to enjoy the calm and serene environment of Mahabalipuram is to check inside several beach resorts spread over Mahabalipuram. It is necessary to have prior reservation in most cases. Other options are to use the hotels, guesthouses, and inspection houses that are spread around the town.
HOW TO REACHNearest airport from Mahabalipuram is Chennai International Airport, around 60 km away. One can get flights for almost all major destinations in India and many places abroad. Several Indian and international Airlines are operating out of Chennai.
The nearest Railway Station, Chengalpattu is around 29 km away from Mahabalipuram. One can take trains for Chennai and several other major cities in the south India from here.
Mahabalipuram is connected by road to Madras, Tirukkalikundram, Kanchipuram and Pondicherry via Chengalpattu. It is 16 kilometers from Pakshithirtham and 65 kilometers from Kanchipuram via Chengalpattu. For local transport tourist taxis can be hired form Madras. Private taxis are also available on hire. Cycle rickshaws are also available here.
OTHER FACILITIESAlmost all modern facilities are available in Mahabalipuram beach resorts. STD, ISD, FAX, Internet also available. Most of the hotels accept major credit cards. Foreign exchange can be achieved from nationalized banks like Indian Overseas Bank (Monday to Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday until noon). A Post Office is also here.
SECURITY PRECAUTIONSThe danger warning areas should be avoided from swimming. Some times the undercurrent may be heavy.
DO'S AND DON'TSPossession and consumption of illegal drugs are punishable.
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