Pancha Rathas, Mahabalipuram

Visitor Information

  • Famous for: Architecture, Scenery, History
  • Entrance Fee:10 per person for Indians and Rs.250 per person for foreigners
  • Visiting Time: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Visit Duration: 2 hours to 3 hours

The Pancha Rathas are a group of majestic structures present in the locality of Mahabalipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu. Constructed during the seventh century, by Raja Narasimhavarman of the Pallava dynasty, the work was left unfinished after the death of this king. The specialty of the structures is that they have each been carved from a single rock of granite into a ratha (chariot). Named after the five Pandava brothers and their wife, Draupadi, of the epic of Mahabharata, the structures are in no way related to the story and the name was born out of local usage. This beautiful work of art is a definite must visit and has been named a UNESCO Heritage Site for its architecture and design. These structures have stood strong throughout the ages and are a perfect representation of the dedicated work carried out at during the olden ages.

Panch Ratha
Photo by Nigel’s Europe & beyond,  CC BY-SA 2.0

Traveler Tips

  • Keep yourself well hydrated against the humid climate of the region.
  • Carry water bottles, sunglasses and caps while visiting the location.

Things to Do

  • Look into the intricate designing and work put into each of the structures.
  • This is a perfect location for photoshoots, with the carvings and the ambience serving as the perfect backdrop.
  • Roam around the locality of Mahabalipuram which has got a certain charm to it.
  • Visit the beach, and spend your day getting wet in the huge waves which thrash the sands and by also trying some adventure sports like surfing to get the adrenaline pumping.
  • Go shopping to your heart’s content, and buy a lot of handicraft items and local products being sold as souvenirs to tourists.
  • The elephant statue which stands right in the midst of all the chariots is another work to behold.
  • Visit the various temples within the city like the Shore temples for which this place is very famous for.
  • Try out the local food and get a taste of the authentic culinary of this southern location.

Availability of Guides

Local guides can be hired for a certain fee from near the ticket counter. They will give you all the information on the various structures, and their characteristics. Hiring of a guide would make the tour more informative.

Best Time to Visit

Being a coastal region, Mahabalipuram has got a tropical climate throughout the year. The temperature remains almost constant which makes it a place that can be visited at any time. During the monsoons, the rainfall can be heavy at times, making it impossible to sightsee. So, the best time would be during the mild winter months of November to March when the effect of the heat is reduced.

How to Reach

Mahabalipuram, located off the coast of Bay of Bengal, is a major tourist spot which is easily accessible. The nearest airport is in Chennai at a distance of 50 kilometers from here. The closest railway station is in Chengelpet at about 30 kilometers away and this city has got its own bus stop with buses coming in from a lot of places within the state. Once we reach the city, the Pancha Rathas can be attained through cabs or autos on the Mada street near the Sthalasayana Perumal Temple.

Interesting Facts and Trivia about the Panch Rathas

  • The ratha of Draupati is the smallest in stature and is dedicated to Lord Durga. It has got the statue of a lion right in front of it.
  • Arjuna ratha has been built in reverence of Lord Shiva and has got a Nandi in front of it.
  • The longest of all the rathas is that of Bhima, which has got a rectangle shaped floor plan.
  • Sculptures of Ardhnarishwarar, a form of Lord Shiva in which he is half male and half female can be seen on the walls of the ratha of Yuddhishta, which is the tallest amongst them all.
  • The Nakula-Sahadeva rathas face south while the rest of the rathas face west.
Panch Rath Mahabalipuram
Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, CC BY 2.0

Nearby Restaurants

  • Le Yogi
  • Sri Ananda Bhavan
  • Moonrakers
  • Mamalla Bhavan
  • L’Attitude 89

Nearby Attractions

  • Shore Temple
  • Mahabalipuram Beach
  • Sthalasayana Perumal Temple

A location which is drenched in history, this place reinforces the greatness of the Indian architecture and its magnificence. Visiting this splendid location is a must for every history buff and architecture enthusiast.

About Rohit

An architect by profession, Rohit Agarwal is a curious traveller, seeking out the minutest detail about the places he travels to, and that’s what one will find in his writings. His writings have appeared in various blogs, he’s currently trying to bring forth as many different places a traveller who shares the same level of curiosity like him would like to visit through his writings.

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