Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is around 60 km south from the city of Chennai has a beautiful beach spanning a distance of over 20 km. 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. Once the site of the erstwhile Pallava Kingdom’s seaport, the place today abounds with stone carvings, caves, rock-cut temples also attract tourists. Mamallapuram dates 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.
Mahabalipuram was the earlier name of Mamallapuram because the demon king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu. During the reign of King Narasimha Varman I, the name Mahabalipuram was changed. It was renamed mahabalipuram which is called till now. There is a story behind. The name Mamallpuram king Narasimha Varman I was a great and valiant warrior. He was given the title Mamalla which means ‘the great wrestler’ so the name was converted from Mamallapuram to mahabalipuram considering the great king and his achievements who has got the title of Mamalla the great wrestler.
Mamallapuram’s wonders in rock leave visitors enthralled, conveying as they do, an impression of beauty and harmony. The monuments are floodlit at night and so it is possible to enjoy their beauty even after sunset. The Mamallapuram dance festival is conducted every year during Dec-Jan. It is a month long festival and dances take place during the weekends. Classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohini Attam, Odissi, Kathak etc., are performed by well-known exponents of the art.