Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram (Tamil: மாமல்லபுரம்) is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is around 60 km south from the city of Chennai. It is an ancient historic town and was a bustling seaport during the time of Periplus (1st century CE) and Ptolemy (140 CE). Ancient Indian traders who went to countries of South East Asia sailed from the seaport of Mahabalipuram.
Some important structures include:
• Thirukadalmallai, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean. It is told that after building this temple, the remaining architecture was preserved and was not corroded by sea.
• Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna's Penance -- a giant open-air bas relief
• Varaha Cave Temple -- a small rock-cut temple dating back to the 7th century.
• The Shore Temple -- a structural temple along the Bay of Bengal with the entrance from the western side away from the sea. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here.
• Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) -- five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakulaand Sahadeva) and Draupadi. An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled -- each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.