Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, is a town on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s known for its temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries. The seafront Shore Temple comprises 3 ornate granite shrines. Krishna’s Butter Ball is a massive boulder balanced on a small hill near the Ganesha Ratha stone temple.
Inland, the Pancha Rathas are a group of temples intricately carved from single rocks. Arjuna’s Penance, also known as the “Descent of the Ganges,” is a huge relief carving depicting an episode from the Mahabharata epic, with animals and gods. Mamallapuram is also home to several rock-carved cave temples, including the 7th-century hilltop Varaha Cave. The Government College of Architecture and Sculpture includes a museum documenting rock architecture in India. Farther north, Tiger Cave is believed to have hosted cultural events centuries ago.