Mahabalipuram - Located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the temple city of Mahabalipuram was flourishing port town of the Pallava rulers of south India. Earlier known as Mamallapuram, the city is said to have a fabulous "open-air museum". The city flourished under the rule of Narsinha Varman I (AD 630-668) and Narsinha Varman II (AD 700-728). Most of the temples and carvings of this city belongs to this period only. The change of the religion from Jainism to Shaivism of the Pallava dynasty rulers has its affect on the monuments of the period.
The main tourist attraction of the town is the Varaha Cave, a small rock-cut mandapam (hall). HeinrichZimmer, a leading expert on Mahabalipuram has described the famous Pallava doorkeepers' expression outside the cave as of "pious rapture".
The Mahishamardini Cave and the Somaskanda sculpture, dedicated to Lord Vishnu are other fascinating places to visit. The Arjuna's Penance, which is said to be world's largest bas-relief, too attracts a number of tourists. A famous legend goes that how King Bhagiratha to redeem the cursed souls of his ancestors, had to bring down to earth the celestial Ganga. The cleft in the rock depicts the whole story of descent of Ganga.
The Five Rathas or the Chariots is said to be the architectural precursors of the temples of South India. The largest among them is the Dharmaraja ratha scoped from a monolithic rock, while the smallest is the Draupadi ratha. You can see these beautiful pieces of art through the Tour Packages for Mahabalipuram.
The other famous temple of the city is the Shore Temple. In this amazing structure a Vishnu temple is built in between the two Shiva temples. Tourists are amazed to see this piece of architecture, which reflects the technical excellence of the artists of those times.
Kanchipuram - The Golden City of a thousand temples, and one of the seven sacred cities of India, is 71 km from Madras. It was, successively, the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. During the 6th and 7th centuries, the Pallavas built some of the best temples in the city.
The city was also a great seat of learning. Sri Sankaracharya, Appar, Siruthonder, and the great Budddhist Bhikku lived, and worked here. Today, it is known not only for its temples, but also for its hand-woven silk fabrics.
The main attractions of the city are the Sakkiswarar Temple; built by the Cholas.This temple is located near the Kamakshi Amman Temple.Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, an important Vishnu temple built by the Pallava King Nandivarman Pallavamalla, in the 7th century AD. Numerous inscriptions are found in the temple, relating to the wars between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas.
Kailasanatha Temple, built by Rajasimha and his son Mahendra the 3rd, in the 8th centuryAD. Ekambareswarar Temple, another ancient temple, renovated by the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagar kings. The 57 metre high Rajagopuram, is one of the tallest towers in South India. The festivals of the city are celebrated with great pomp and show; some of the main festivals are the Brahmothsavam, Garudothsavam, and the Chariot festival.