BY KAMAL SHARMA
MAHABALIPURAM was the biggest South Indian port city of PALLAVAS by the seventh century and traders from around the world used to come to this amazing city which is now known as MAMALLAPURAM. We boarded the CHENNAI EXPRESS, rather Shatabdi Express, for a comfortable and pleasant journey from Mysore to reach Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and the biggest South Indian city, and another one and a half hours by a luxury deluxe coach brought us to GRT TEMPLE BAY
RADISSON BLUE resort, perhaps the finest resort of Mamallapuram. Spread over many acres, the resort has the biggest continuous swimming pool in Asia and has many restaurants to cater the needs of visitors from around the world and needless to say that it was packed as each and every room, villa and cabin was taken.
Our sightseeing started the next day as we reached those landmarks which made UNESCO declare Mamallapuram the World Heritage Site
since 1984. KRISHNA’S BUTTER BALL is a gravity defying rock, which neither the British nor a herd of elephants nor a tsunami could move, and attracts every visitor. ARJUNA’S PENANCE is carved out of mountains and various temples and carved caves take the breath away as one admires the work of Pallavas rulers. SHORE TEMPLE (700-728 AD) is the last remaining temple out of seven built by the Pallavas dynasty and remnants of the others were exposed after the recent
tsunami which clearly confirms what historians say that Mahabalipuram was the biggest port city of Asia at one time before it was abandoned. PAANCH RATHAS (Five Chariots) is a complex of carved temples dedicated to the Pandavas and the temples of Yudhishthar, Arjun, Bhima, Nakul and Sahdev are a must for every visitor.
Mamallapuram is known for its carved statues and we saw many places demonstrating the world famous skill of the locals. Boasting of the cleanest beaches in India, Mamallapuram is famous for its seafood and though we had a sample of that at some of the restaurants of the resort, the highlight was our dinner at GRANDE BAY, a fine dining restaurant at this brand new resort which has been opened by Sethuraman and Chindi Varadarajulu, who till a few years ago was running the famous Chutney Villa Restaurant in Vancouver. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Chennai, Mamallapuram in Kaanchipuram district is a must for those who love art, culture, history and sea shores because this UNESCO heritage site has much to offer to all.