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Mahabalipuram is a small seaside village that was the main port of the Pallava Dynasty from the 5th to the 9th century. Its exquisite rock cut temples, or rathas, are some of the finest in India and have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In the village centre is an immense frieze carved in the 1st century AD, which is 12m high and 28m long. It recounts the Mahabharata episode of Arjuna’s penance. The hillside is scattered with eight temple porches with bold sculptures inside and there is also still one surviving shore temple, built in the 1st Century. A row of Nandi Bulls surrounds its walls and Mahabalipuram also boasts an excellent open-air museum where you can watch stonemasons at work.

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