A cool, evening sea breeze and the setting sun provided the perfect ambience for the launch of the 22nd Indian Dance Festival.

The annual dance festival has become a big hit among tourists with most of them making it a ritual to visit Mamallapuram during the period from December to January to witness the classical dance performances by local and visiting artistes.

Tourism department officials say there has been a surge in the number of visitors after the shifting of the venue from Arjuna’s Penance to the Shore Temple. Tourism minister S.P. Shunmuganathan and animal husbandry minister T.K.M. Chinniah inaugurated the fair.

Tourism secretary R. Kannan said the festival is on till January 25 and there is no entry fee for visitors. Mr. Chinniah said there had been an increase in the number of visitors to Mamallapuram from 28 lakh in 2010 to 48 lakh in 2012. It included 5 lakh foreigners. The work on the maritime heritage museum would begin soon, he said.

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