Location: Mamallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram or Seven Pagodas, is a town that lies along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
It is an important town of the erstwhile Pallava dynasty that ruled in parts of South India from 275 CE to 897 CE.
It was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD.
The name Mamallapuram derives from Mamallan, or “great warrior”, a title by which the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I was known.
The name Mamallapuram got distorted during the British era to Mahabalipuram and thus it is also known as Mahabalipuram.
Mamallapuram contains many surviving 7th- and 8th-century Pallava temples and monuments, chief of which are the sculptured rock relief popularly known as “Arjuna’s Penance,” or “Descent of the Ganges,” a series of sculptured cave temples, and the Shore Temple.
The town’s Five Rathas, or monolithic temples, are the remnants of seven temples, for which the town was known as Seven Pagodas. The entire assemblage collectively was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Ancient Chinese, Persian, and Roman coins found at Mamallapuram point that it was a seaport.
Mamallapuram and the Pallava dynasty are also historically relevant, for the earliest recorded security pact between China and India (in the early 8th century) that involved a Pallava king (Rajasimhan, or Narasimha Varma II), from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet.