Located in the state of Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram is located right on the Coromandel Coast next to the Bay of Bengal. It was a well established sea port during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty, and has flourished accordingly. This city was actually the 2nd capital of the Pallavas.
It was originally named after the rude, cruel, and arrogant King Mahabali who was killed during a fierce battle by Lord Vishnu at that location. It was named by the people more out of gratitude that the heartless king was killed there than out of respect upon his death for his leadership. During the rule of the Pallavas, new styles of art and architecture were pioneered.
Mahabalipuram is where they tried and then exhibited their new artistic and architectural creations. As a result, the area is brimming with rockcut caves and numerous temples. In fact, this region is often referred to as an open museum. Some of the temples were even carved out of one enormous rock rather than simply constructed out of rock. Not much pillaging has occurred here over the centuries, since the wealth of the Pallavas was never flaunted, so the temples are well preserved. The architecture is not the only draw for tourists in this city.
The area is also nestled in an especially impressive setting. Beautiful white sandy beaches are plentiful, as are the casuarinas trees that are found in abundance there. Mahabalipuram is also known for providing a fantastic shopping experience. Exquisite local handmade crafts are readily available in the local shops. Lying on the Coromandel Coast of Tamil Nadu, the historical town of Mahabalipuram is known to have been established as a flourishing sea port by the Pallava kings during the period from 7th to 10th century.
The city was crowned as the second capital of the Pallava dynasty. Most of the temple was built during this time. The ancient name of the city was ‘Mamallapuram’ which was later changed into Mahabalipura during the reign of King Narsimha Varman I. A very interesting history is associated with the name of the town. It is said that the King Narsima was awarded with a title ‘Mamalla’ meaning ‘the great wrestler’. It was from this title that the name of the city was derived.
The Pallavas ruled here from the 3rd to the 9th century and during this time many saints and poets were born here. The period from 650 to 750 AD is considered to be the most glorious years of the Pallava rules, as during this time the rulers were the most powerful. Since then the city slipped into oblivion and was revived only in the year 1827, by the British who laid the foundation of the modern city of Mahabalipuram.