The shore temples and chariot temples of Mahabalipuram are invaluable pieces of architecture. Built by the kings of the Pallava dynasty, the temples are located 58 km from Chennai off the coast of Bay of Bengal.
The tiny littoral village of Mahabalipuram is full of boulders, miles of unspoilt beach and rock-cut temples. The temples are in sharp contrast to the conventional temple architecture. The figures depicted are not Gods and Goddesses but are images of daily life. The famed shore temples of Mahabalipuram is perched on a rocky outcrop presiding over the shoreline like a landmark by the day and a beacon by the night. These beautiful temples are designed in such a way that it is illuminated by the first rays of the rising sun. Another very important attraction of the place is the monolithic chariots called “rathas”. The eight rock cut rathas of Mahabalipuram are famous throughout the world for the skill and imagination that went into the creation of these fine architectural beauties.
The rathas are modeled on the Buddhist viharas or monasteries. The chariots are dedicated to the heroes of Mahabharata, the five Pandava brothers. The most remarkable thing about these monuments is that they are all incomplete. But even these incomplete structures are wonderful examples of art. The rock cut temples and rathas of Mahabalipuram are burning examples of the skill of the artisans of the age.