A source of major tourist attraction with monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, and the fresh smell of the sea sand is a small town in the state of Tamil Nadu called Mahabalipuram, once popularly called “Mamallapuram”. The beach at the Mahabs is beautiful, but a little dangerous. People are advised not to swim there because the shore ends in a very steep drop, which is impossible to distinguish from the surface. Along with this, the undercurrents are quite strong. The view of the sun rising and setting over the temples is not to be missed. The Archaeological Survey of India has done a wonderful job of preserving and maintaining Mahabalipuram’s rich cultural heritage.
There are many places tourists can visit that offer a glimpse into India’s past. Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas, Sea Shore Temple, Krishna's Butter Ball, and Descent of The Ganges, Mamallapuram Lighthouse, India Seashell Museum, Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna Mandapam, Mahishasuramardini Cave, Ganesh Ratha Temple, and Trimurti Cave are a few places which are very attractive.
Being located on the coast, seafood is naturally an important part of the local diet. Tourists can try different restaurants, from High field international hotels to small shack called Seashore famous foot stalls. Each place has a unique way of cooking and serving their seafood. The waves from the sea come right up to the base of the stalls which sells various foods like fish fry, cut mangoes soaked in salt and chili powder, steamed groundnuts, and much more varieties of snacks.
Sea waves are quite rough in Mamallapuram, but the high breezy location is a mix of red, orange and yellow shade during the time of the sun set reflecting a golden cascade. A fortuitous combination of abundant marine life, and abandon shells are found along the shore, which the local handcraft makers make door hanging, key chains and many other innovative and attractive products. The most preferred is the face mirror decorated with colorful and designed sea shells which gives an elegant look. Those planning a trip should put both sunglasses and sunscreen atop their “to bring” list as sun is too bright but still the scenic beauty mesmerizes the tourists. The sea shore has colourful shells and a variety of poisonous dead fishes also. Tourists and visitors must be quite careful while talking a walk.
The scenic beauty of Mahabalipuram is truly a beautiful one to behold. The sun sinking beneath the horizon and the sky painted with beautiful tints of pink, gold, orange and yellow. Its reflection on the sea held the tourists spellbound. There is a magical touch about it and it is created by the dancing waves that shimmered in the twilight. Tourists and visitors from local places enjoy the evening time eating snacks which are sold in the sea shore.
Mahabalipuram shore temple is closed by sharp 6pm in the evening, and tourists and visitors are not allowed after the fixed time span. Guards whistle loud and make sure that the crowd is evacuated before 6pm in the evening. The reason is not known but some say it is a haunted place. Mahabalipuram which was ruled and built by Pallavas during the 7th century AD, was destroyed very badly due to the geographical changes and roughness of the sea.
The sculptures and other handcrafted works are of great value, diverse and rich. Various craft works can be seen here.
Metal Crafts includes metal work using Zinc, Copper, Brass, Silver, and Gold. Some of the traditional ancient handicraft styles are Bidriware, Pembarthi Metal Craft, Dhokra, and Kamrupi. The most famous and preferred in Mahabalipuram is stone carving craft work. Stone carving of various idols at various designs and sizes are done here. This may be attributed to the fact that the government has set up the Mamallapuram School of Sculpture here. Just as in bronze, the 20th-century sculpture has not yet evolved an idiom of its own and many of the carvings are copies of the earlier periods. The quality of the material is an extremely important part of the sculptural process. The artists out here work with the indigenous varieties of the stone available in the state, as it is extremely durable for construction purposes. Also the homogeneity of the stone is important for the stability and durability of the final form. The stones are selected carefully for their texture and the lie of the stone (or the direction of the growth). This lie also defines the quarrying technique employed.
Note: Photo credits Mr. Niranjan (UG Student, Department of Commerce, SRM University)/ Write Up : Anand Shankar Raja M, Professor, Christ University.