Mamallapuram Dance Fest : Tribute to the legacy of Indian dance forms


Dance is a rejuvenation of mind, body and soul and watching a dance performance in the backdrop of artistically carved and magnificently lit temples and monuments is a surreal experience.

The venue of the Mamallapuram dance festival is the 13th century Pallava rock Structure. This place is also the site of Arjuna’s penance; a bas-relief sculpted on two enormous adjacent rocks, depicting the descent of Ganges at the request of King Bhagirath. It truly provides an artistic touch and a magnificent backdrop to the festival.

What to expect – 

  • Well-known dancers from across the country come to present mesmerizing performances, depicting the tales of Radha-Krishna.


  • What makes the festival even more interesting is that here you not only get to see the traditional Indian dance performances but also some rare folk dance form such as Karagam, Kavadi, Silambattam and Kokkali Attam.


  • The complete Indian classical dance fraternity descends on Mamallapuram ( Mahabalipuram) to see a glimpse of ancient Hindu culture and their traditions in the form of captivating performances. Over this four-week cultural extravaganza, two performances are staged every night, for free.

Mamallapuram Dance Fest - Shore Temple

  • Until a couple of years back, the illuminated Arjuna Penance (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site) provided an artistic touch and a magnificent backdrop to the festival. However, now, the venue has been shifted to the Shore Temple (constructed by the Pallava King Narasimhavarman in 8th century A.D.). This move has revived a centuries-old tradition; since temples, in ancient times temples maintained a complement of Indian dancers who performed during celebrations.


The ancient town of Mamallapuram – Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is a historic seashore city within the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu that was once ruled by the Pallava dynasty. The panorama of this city is dotted with many historical architectural marvels including Shore Temple, Krishna’s ButterBall, Mahishamardini Cave and the Varaha Cave, that have stood the test of times.

Places to Visit
While you are around the town, do take out time to visit following places:

Pancha Rathas

  • Pancha Rathas: The sheer beauty of the monolithic rock-cut temples in the form of chariots or rathas can really mesmerize anyone. There are a set of 5 temples named after the Pandavas from Mahabharata.

Arjuna's Penance

  • Arjuna’s Penance: There is no way you can miss this while being in Mahabalipuram – for it is one of the World’s largest air bass relief. This relief depicts the story of Arjuna doing penance in the forest to please Lord Shiva to get his celestial weapon.

Krishna's Butterball

  • Krishna’s Butterball: Only heaven knows how this huge stone of around 16 feet diameter have been balancing itself on a slope from over 1000 years. Attempts have been made to roll it down with the help of elephants but surprisingly the ball does not budge. This is one of the wonders of Mahabalipuram which is a complete not-to-miss.

Dakshin Chitra

  • Dakshin Chitra: Just before you head back to the city, stop over at Dakshin Chitra, which is a cultural village on the outskirts of the town. It showcases the culture of the southern states of India. You can see various houses of different styles, indulge in a few activities such as pottery making and enjoy various cultural performances.

The strains of classical music and the soothing sound of waves washing ashore across the magical setting of open-air at Mamallapuram Dance Fest sets the stage for an enthralling event that celebrates ‘Dance as an Art’.

How to Reach: Chennai (45 km) and Chengalpattu (29 km) are the nearest railheads from Mahabalipuram. You can easily get buses and taxis to reach this ancient town.


Note: Mamallapuram Dance Festival will be held from Tuesday, 20th December 2016 till Friday, 20th January 2017.


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