As children, many students get the opportunity to visit Mamallapuram and marvel at the stone carvings. But beyond the very basic stories told by accompanying teachers or guides, they don't learn much.
Similarly, when families visit this ancient town down East Coast Road, adults and children often wander around listlessly, ignorant of how Narasimha Pallava - II built the shore temples at Mamallapuram. For many, the Tiger Cave and Mamallapuram are just part of the circuit where you can spend an entire day when relatives or friends are visiting.
However, it is possible that you're clueless for most part of the trip.
“The guides at Mamallapuram are not helpful and their explanations are incomplete. And many visitors just prefer to walk around reading the boards put up by the Archaeological Survey of India near various monuments,” said M. Krishnan, a regular visitor to Mamallapuram. However, things might change soon, as the Department of Tourism is in the process of preparing an audio guide for Mamallapuram on a pilot basis. It will be in English and the application would be compatible for iPhones, iPads, Android phones and even ordinary phones. According to S. Swaminathan, who authored ‘Mahabalipuram – Unfinished Poetry in Stone' there is no documentation of any heritage site in the country which would help common people.
“A place like Mamallapuram offers quite a lot to the visitor. If one is given the background they can appreciate it. I always say go informed, come back enchanted. ” Tourism Department sources said tourists can download the audio guide to their phones. It will be in two levels, basic and advanced. Each explanation would be of maximum 5 minutes. “Depending on the success of the English version, it would be made in other languages as well. Even the guides can utilise the application and explain in a better manner to tourists.”
The material for the guide is being sourced authentically and the application is expected to be ready in a couple of months.