Mamallapuram Dance Festival


Time Required: December - January


December, 2019

Entry Fee:

100 INR

Mamallapuram Dance Festival, Mahabalipuram Overview

Mamallapuram Dance Festival is organised for around twenty days, in the town of Mahabalipuram, to celebrate the diverse forms of folk dance popular in different regions and cultures of India. A captivating stage is set before a stone sculpture range known as the ‘Arjuna’s Penance rock sculpture’ for the festival.

Mamallapuram Dance Festival Dates 

A group folk dance at Mamallapuram
A group folk dance at Mamallapuram

The Mamallapuram Dance festival is organised by the Tourism Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Hence, the date of its commencement and conclusion too decided by the department. Since it is an annual festival, the dates are kept pretty much around the same time every year, but not the same. In 2018 it began on 25th of December and is to be concluded on 15th of January, 2019. The dates for the next Mamallapuram Dance festival has still not been finalised and is expected to be announced when the festival is close at hand. 

Mamallapuram Dance Festival Venue

A glimpse of Mamallapuram Dance festival performance
A glimpse of Mamallapuram Dance festival performance

The Mamallapuram Dance festival is celebrated in the port town of Mahabalipuram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Mahabalipuram is situated between Bay of Bengal and Great Salt Lake, and thus is a port town, having its significance since a long time in history. The dance festival is organised at the Arjuna's Penance rock sculpture in Mahabalipuram, where a makeshift stage makes for the celebration. The Shore Temple is the closest temple from the venue and is a much-revered destination for the people gathered for the Mamallapuram Dance Festival.

Events & Celebrations at Mamallapuram Dance Festival

Kathak performance at Mamallapuram Dance Festival
Kathak performance at Mamallapuram Dance Festival

Tamil Nadu is famous for temples and monuments, housing sculptures beyond imitation. As is the case with other parts of the state, the town of Mahabalipuram, which is also known as Mamallapuram, is marked with such constructions. Most of these enthralling structures have come down to this period, through the test of time, from the 7th or 8th century AD. These are the legacies left behind by the Pallava rulers. Mahabalipuram comprises of a strip of land in Tamil Nadu, situated between the Bay of Bengal and Great Salt Lake. A town with such culturally rich history, Mahabalipuram has much to offer for the lovers of folk art-forms. In that capacity, standing true to its past, the Tourism Department of Government of Tamil Nadu organises an annual festival, known as Mamallapuram Dance Festival, in most cases in January.

The shores of Mahabalipuram are blessed with naturally ordained beauty, and sculptures crafted back during the reigns of the Pallava dynasty. To spend endless nights for almost a month among these beautiful structures, attending an extravaganza of dance, witnessing various dance forms popular across the country is an experience incomparable to any other.
On the grand ceremonial stage, the visitors can witness some of the most beautifully prepared folk dance performances. Dancers from all over the country gather to participate in this festival, bringing to life stories of the past in their performances. One can witness the tale of Krishna and Radha being explored on the stage, in most beautiful of ways, through movements on the lines of folk delicacy. The Mamallapuram Dance Festival presents numerous dance forms such as Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Bhangra, and much more.

The Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram becomes a major attraction during the festival, and the visitors who attend the dance extravaganza do not miss a chance to visit the temple. The temple, standing at the shore, having witnessed the Pallava dynasty's rule and the port activities, has acquired almost an inseparable status with the Mamallapuram Dance festival.

The Mamallapuram Dance festival is not something to be missed if a person is having a corner for folk art forms in his heart. It provides a wondrous experience, and a peek into the cultural richness of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu in general, and that of Mahabalipuram in particular.

The Significance of the Festival 

A performative dance at the festival
A performative dance at the festival

A one of its kind extravaganza of folk dance forms, the Mamallapuram Dance Festival is significant for multiple reasons. It is an event which attracts people from far distances and makes them witness the cultural and heritage beauty of the state of Tamil Nadu in general and that of Mahabalipuram in particular, thus helping the state in improving tourism. It also helps to provide the monuments with their due sanctity by making them come alive through festivity. Apart from the apparent benefits of the celebration of Mamallapuram Dance festival, it helps in injecting the feeling of 'unity in diversity' by bringing various folk dance forms on a common platform. While the dance forms also find a reason to remain alive and thrive with glory, it gives the visitors an incomparable experience of joy and mesmerisation.  

How to Reach Mahabalipuram

If you are planning to take the railways to reach Mahabalipuram, the nearest railway station is the Chengalpattu Junction railway station, which is situated at an approximate distance of 30 kilometres from Mahabalipuram. However, the nearest major railway station is the Chennai Central Railway Station which is around 56 kilometres away from Mahabalipuram. However, for through airways trip, the nearest airport is the Chennai International Airport, which is approximately 60 kilometres away from Mahabalipuram.

Thus, the Mamallapuram Dance festival has been making a significant contribution in providing a platform, nurturing recognition, and keeping alive the various folk dance forms of the country. It has remained as an important dance festival for the traditional forms of the art, in the times when their relevance appears to be fading. Moreover, it is the most beautiful event altogether to visit and see. The lovers of Indian folk dances must join the Mamallapuram Dance festival, for it provides a true haven to the culturally rich dance forms of the country.

Photos of Mamallapuram Dance Festival

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