Mahabalipuram is world famous for its shore temples and it was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. 58 kilometers from Madras on the Bay of Bengal, this tiny seaside village of Mahabalipuram, is set in a covered landscape.
The main temples of South India are:
Interesting tourist places include, Rathas which are architectural prototypes of all Dravidian temples, famous Arjuna's Penance and Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the center of the village. The Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater give a beautiful image. Sixteen man made caves in different stages of completion are also seen scattered through the area.
Mahabalipuram art is divided into four categories, open-air bas-reliefs, structured temples, man-made caves, and rathas. Today it attracts shoals of foreigners in search of relaxation and sea bathing, and most strange of all, it has an atomic power plant also. A number of scholarly controversies rage over its history and that of its monuments.
Mahabalipuram was already a center of pilgrimage when, in the 7th century Mamalla made it a seaport and began to make temples fashioned of rock. It was through Mahabalipuram that many Indian colonists, who included sages and artists, migrated to Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka's national chronicle, the "Mahavamsa" testifies to this fact.