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This historic town on the Coromandel Coast was founded by the Hindu Pallava King Mamalla in the 7th century. Once a busy seaport, today it is small, laidback with a lovely beach that is becoming increasingly popular with surfers.

Mamallapuram is also famous for its cluster of 7th and 8th century temples and monuments, made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, which are spread along the coastline and particularly picturesque at sunset. These Pallava temples are particularly known for their carvings and bas reliefs – the temple known as ‘Arjuna’s Penance’ is considered a masterpiece and one of India’s greatest ancient artworks, depicting in great detail scenes from Hindu myth and daily life at the time.

Also unmissable are the Five Rathas, five temples each carved from a single large rock, which were hidden in sand until 200 years ago, when they were excavated by the British.
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