Arjuna’s Penance, as locally known as , is located in Mamallapuram or Mahaballipuram [???????????](60 kms from Chennai enroute to Pondicherry). It is believed to be from 7th century, measuring 96 feet long by 43 feet high.
Arjuna’s Penance, perhaps the world’s largest bas-relief, is the universe itself in stone, throbbing with a vastness of conception. Legend has it something close the tale of Noah, but differs in its cast of characters. It goes like that, King Bhagirath brought down the Ganges from Heaven to purify the souls of his ancestors. His plan went awry when he realized that the flood would inundate the earth, so he had to undergo a penance to convince Shiva to intervene, who came down to earth and let the flood trickle through his hair, dispersing the waters safely in innumerable streams all over the world.
Arjuna’s Penance has the magically sculpted scene, which opens the doors of cosmic imagination, it has over 100 figures of gods and celestial creatures, birds and beasts, man and saint.
Mamallapuram is 60 kms from Chennai and connected by a good road that runs along the coast. It a good one day trip, or probably a weekend drive if clubbed with Pondicherry from Chennai.