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The little seaside of mamallapuram, an hour's drive from Chennai has a beautiful beach spanning 20 kms. The 7th century town is famous for its rock hewn temples, sculptures and the world's largest stone bas relief. a crocodile farm, snake venom extracting centre, schools of art and sculpture and a wide choise of resorts along the beach draw holiday seekers all round the year, especially during the Dance festival held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December to January 31st.
Places to see
This city serves as an entrance to Kullu. Famous as Mini Kashi, this city has some important temples like Taradevi, Triloknath and Panchanvez.
Situated at a distance of 45 Kms from Kullu, Manikaran is famous for its hot water springs. The road to Manikaran has some very beautiful waterfalls.
Bajeshwar Mahadev Temple
This temple was built in the 9th century and has beautiful idols carved of stone. The Bajeshwar Mahadev Temple is just 15 Kms away from Kullu.
Other places worth visiting are Naggar, famous for its forts and natural beauty; and Katran, known for its apple orchards and bee-farms.
Journey time from Chennai to Mamallapuram the nearest tourist spot is barely one hour, the distance being 60 kms. The road which runs along the sea has a number of amusement parks on the way including a "dolphin's city". Also of interest along the way is the "Dakshin chitra" - a heritage centre which has recreated the ancient style of living of various sects of society in Southern India. Mamallapuram itself is a pretty beach resort and has accomodation ranging from the basic to five star deluxe.
Mamallapuram is a sculptors delight. Among the noteworthy sites in the vicinity of the town are Arjuna's penance, Krishna Mandapam, Varaha Mandapam, Mahishasurmardhini Caves, Five Rathas and Shore temples. Besides there are several places of interest situated between Chennai and Mamallapuram which can be covered.
The Shore temples of Mahabalipuram is 60 kms away from Chennai facing the Bay of Bengal. The rock cut temples exhibit the Dravadian architecture where we can see fusions of Buddist elements too. There are cave temples, rathas or chariots, sculptures and structural temples.
A few kilometers out of Chennai is the Muthukadu Boating point, a large lake formed out of the backwaters. Boats are available. Crocodile bank is a farm where special species of Indian and african crocodiles and alligators are bred in captivity. The reptiles are kept in open marshy enclosures for public viewing. There are also dramatic venom extraction demonstration from snakes at regular intervals here.
The Crocodile Park and Venom Park though under the central zoo authority are managed by private trust run by Mr Romulus Whittaker. The Crocodile park is open from 8.00 am to 5.30 pm and the Venom Bank from 1.00pm to 5.00 pm.
18 kms from Chennai on the Mamallapuram Chennai road is the Cholamandel Artists Village. The first of its kind it was started in 1966. The artists and sculptors live and work here in idyllic conditions. A unique interesting creation enroute is the Dakshin Chitra a unique heritage centre. Over 10 acres the traditional life style of the 4 states of Tamil Nadu has been recreated. Traditional craftspersons and the folk artists work and perform in the reconstructed settings of the 19th century streets, homes and workshop spaces.
There are many amusements parks arouns. VGP Golden Beach has a fort with 108 musical pillars, musical fountains and several rides. The adjoining resort has comfortable cottages inlcuding a 'ship' cottage. The Dolphin city is also an impressive creation with its dolphins, sea lions and such like. Generally the shows are held in mornings and evenings but weekends and holidays have special shows also.
A number of watersports have come up now. About 15 kms from Mamallapuram on the East coast Highway to Pondicherry, Darsha water sports is closest. Other centres are at Navallur about 30 kms from Chennai and 40 kms from Mamallapuram also providing windsurfing with weekend visits being the most suitable, and at Chengalpattu where TTDC has a boat house.
A large part of the state being on the coastal edge of the country, the weather is tropical and sultry for most part of the year. The summer months of April, May, June are hottest where temperature ranges to 40 degrees.
December and January are the peak months for Chennai. The temp ranges from 20-22 degrees. To avoid peak rush October is better. The weather in these months is pleasant and easy to bear the humidity.