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Chennai Tourist Attractions - Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram

Published: 09/05/2012

A trip to Chennai will be incomplete without visiting Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram, two important tourist destinations near Chennai. You can always stay in one of the nice Chennai hotels and still visit these two destinations on day trips.

Kanchipuram

For a devout Hindu visiting Kanchipuram means cleansing his soul. One of the ancient cities in India, Kanchipuram is situated 76 km from Chennai. This small temple town is considered as one of the seven sacred places (cities) of the Hindus, Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallavas. Under their patronage, the place became a seat of learning. Universities were founded by the rulers for higher learning. Subsequent rulers, the Chollas, Pandyas and Vijyanagar dynasties, contributed to the cities reputation as a religious and commercial centre. Many temples were built here between the 6th and the 8th century. The city is sacred to both the Shaivites and Vaishnavites. So we find both Shiva and Vishnu temples here. The Kailashnath temple, the Vaikuntha Perumal, the Vardharaja temple, Ekambareshwaser temle, the Kamakshi temple are some of the temples to be visited. Another mysterious and awe inspiring tourist attraction in Kanchipuram is the Pakshithirtham where the centuries old practise of the priest offering food to two white eagles in the afternoon, believed to be two saints, is still continuing. Kanchipuram is also one of the four mutths established by Adi Sankracharya in the 19th century.

Another tourist attraction is the famous Kanchipuram silk, for which tourist from all over the world come to buy. Traditional silks and cottons available both in the private outlets as well the cooperative society outlets on Gandhi road and Mettu Street, is a shopper’s paradise.

Mahabalipuram

An open air museum with rock cut caves, temples, chariots and mandaps are impressive work on stone belonging to the 5th-9th century are exhibited here. Declared as the World Heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1995, Mahabalipuram is located 55 kms from Chennai lying on the Coromondal Coast of Tamilnadu. During the reign of the Pallav Dynasty 7th to 10th century, Mahabalipuram was a flourishing seaport. Some of the best specimens of Dravidian architecture can be found here. The stone work is on bas-relief portraying legends and descriptions of Gods. Most of structures are unique because they are carved out of single huge rock. A particularly impressive piece of work is the Shoe Temple in the Bay of Bengal. A strikingly interesting fact about the place is that the heritage of stone carving is kept alive even today by the community living in the region. Although the main tourist attraction is the archaeological marvels, beautiful sandy beaches under the backdrop of the casuarinas is a joy for ever. Handicrafts, like handmade souvenirs of stone and seashell artefacts are plentily available in the local shops.
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