Mamallapuram, located 60km south of Chennai on the Bay of Bengal, means “the town of Mamalla, the great wrestler.” Mamalla is the title given to the Pallava ruler Narasimha Varman I, who built many of the temples here. The previous name Mahabalipuram means “the town of the great king Bali,” from whom Lord Vamana (Vishnu) begged three paces of land. This town was an ancient port of the Pallavas kings, who ruled from Kanchipuram from the 4th to the 8th centuries. It is believed that most of the carvings were done under the patronage of the Pallavas kings, Narasimha Varma I (630-668 AD) and Narasimha Varman II (700-728). The rock carvings here are divided into three zones: the main group of carvings on the slopes of the hill, the Shore temple to the east, and the Pancha Ratha (Five Chariots) temples to the south. The temples here are among the earliest examples of monumental architecture in South India. They were made mostly between the 5th and 8th centuries. Most of the cave temples are carved out of a granite hill that is close to the sea. The Five Rathas are located south of this area. The Shore temple is located right next to the sea. Besides the famous Shore temple, there are 14 cave temples, 8 monolithic rathas, and a number of other smaller rock sculptures. Many of the monuments are floodlit at night. There is a dance festival here during January and February. Mamallapuram is one of the more visited places by foreign tourists in South India. It is a peaceful town with a good atmosphere and is a pleasant place to stay for a few days or more, just to relax. It has a good selection of cheap accommodations and good restaurants. It has a good beach, but I did not see anyone swimming there, as the water was very rough and appeared extremely dangerous.