Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is famous for its stone carvings dating back to the Tamil Pallava dynasty in the 7th-9th century.
The structures here, mostly carved straight out of granite, are among the oldest existing examples of Dravidian (South Indian) architecture. Today’s Mamallapuram is purely a tourist town and one of the major attractions around Chennai. The East Coast Road has made it easily accessible - just about an hour from the city. At one time you could see the Bay of Bengal almost all the way to M’puram, but, there is so much development that the ocean is glimpsed only as you get close to M’puram. Mamallapuram itself was getting run down over the last decade with very patchy efforts at keeping the monuments preserved. This has changed in the last few years with the Shore Temple being included in the UNESCO heritage project. The surroundings have been made much nicer, but, there has been a lot of wind and water erosion on the temple carvings with many of them having undergone loss of detail over the years.
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