Arjuna's Penance: This is one of the most interesting sights of Mahabalipuram. Here on the face of a huge rock, has been carved in relief the mythical story of the River Ganges issuing from its source high up in the Himalayas. The panel depicts animals, deities and other semi-divine creatures, fables from the Panchatantra, and Arjuna doing a penance to obtain a boon from Lord Shiva. It's one of the freshest, most realistic and unpretentious rock carvings to be seen anywhere in India.
Krishna Mandapam: One of the earliest rock-cut temples on whose walls is carved a pastoral scene depicting Lord Krishna lifting up the Govardhana mountain to protect his kinfolk from the wrath of Varuna, the god of rain.
Mandapams: In all there are eight mandapams (shallow, rock-cut halls) scattered over the main hill which are of interest for their internal figure sculptures. Two of the mandapams have been left unfinished.
Rathas: Here are the architectural prototypes of all the Dravidian temples with their imposing gopurams and vimanas, multi-pillared halls and sculptured walls which dominate the landscape of Tamil Nadu. The Rathas (literally temple chariots) are named after the Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharata epic, and are full size models of different kinds of temples known to the Dravidian builders of the 7th century AD. With one exception, the Rathas depict structural types which recall the earlier architecture of the Buddhist temples and monasteries. Though they are popularly known as the 'Five Rathas' there are in fact eight of them altogether.
Shore Temples: These beautiful and romantic wind and sea ravaged temples are unique in India and one of its finest sights. They represent the final phase of Pallava art and were built in the late 7th century during the reign of Rajasimha. The two spires of these temples containing a shrine for Vishnu and one for Shiva were modelled after the Dharmaraja Ratha but with considerable modification. The temples are approached through paved forecourts whose weathered perimeter walls support long lines of bulls and whose entrances are guarded by mythical deities. Most of the detail of the carvings has, of course, disappeared over the centuries yet a remarkable amount remains especially inside the shrines themselves.