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4.3 /5 157 votes


Best Time: Nov-Feb Read More

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Nearest Airport: Chennai Check Flights

Mahabalipuram Tourism

Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram as it is famously known, is a historically important and well-loved tourist location situated on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal, in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Once the abode of the famous demon king Mahabali, Mahabalipuram was later renamed Mamallapuram. The serenity, the alluring atmosphere and the impressive setting with many beautiful white sandy beaches dotted with casuarina trees are all reasons as to why one would want to visit this wonderful town.

Some famous tourist spots include the UNESCO world heritage site Group of Monuments like the Shore Temple and the Five Rathas, the Crocodile Bank which is home to some exquisite species of crocodiles and alligators, and the beach resorts in Kovalam and Sadras.

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Cultural Influence On Architecture In Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is famous for its architectural wonders. These monuments, revering the various Gods and holy scriptures of the Hindu religion, are mainly in the form of temples, rock-cut caves and other stone inscriptions. These monuments are classified into five major forms - the Rathas or chariot temples, Mandapas or cave temples, rock relief structures, structural temples and excavations. The Rathas are found in the southern part of the town, the most famous being the Panch Rathas, dedicated to the 5 Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. The Mandapas were historically places for social gatherings to take place. They have excavated caves depicting various intricate carvings from Hindu mythology. Among the temples, the Shore temple located along the sea is the most popular, mainly dedicated to the Lords Shiva and Vishnu. Rock reliefs, as the name suggests, are carved on independent rocks or big stones. The rock relief structure, Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s penance, is believed to be one of the largest in the world and is carved on two large boulders 27m long and 9m high.

History of Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram was once a trade city that was established during the Pallava dynasty. It became an important port and was a flourishing and vibrant centre of activity. The Pallavas left behind a treasure-trove of history, architecture and culture in the form of stunning monoliths and rock temples, and sculptures dedicated to the Gods. The history of this town stretches even beyond the 7th & 8th centuries and the Pallava dynasty; settlements belonging to the pre-Sangam era and artefacts that predate the birth of Christ have also been found here. There is thus an air of mystery surrounding Mahabalipuram’s history, with historians being unclear about the exact origins and roots of this popular tourist destination.

Restaurants and Local Food in Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is brimming with interesting and flattering restaurants and cafes and a variety of cuisines. Find here, the colors and spice of street food, an elaborate, traditional and authentic thali as well as an array of western delicacies. While here, try Grilled Fish, Vegetarian thali, Prawns, Lobsters, Crabs and more. You might also try a typical South Indian platter which consists of Idli, Dosa, Appam, Vada, Upma Sambhar, Sweet Pongal, Kesari, Payassam and much more.
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Suggested Itinerary

Mahabalipuram can be covered within a day. Reach Mahabalipuram by morning. Visit the Tiger Cave that is located at the entrance of Mahabalipuram. Check out the rock monument called "The Descent of the Ganges", also known as Arjuna's Penance. Visit the Varaha and Krishna Cave temples. After lunch, check out the various handicraft stores that sell beautiful stone artefacts. Then, Visit the Krishna's Butterball and the Pancha Rathas.The India Seashell Museum is also worth a visit. End the trip with a visit to the Shore Temple.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Extremely well-maintained tourist spots, knowledgible tour guides are easily available.

What's Not So Great?

Limited eating options. Extremely hot for the greater part of the year.

For Whom?

Ideal for school/college excursions from the nearby cities. Also ideal for people interested in regional history and architecture.

How To Reach Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is very close to Chennai. So, it's best to proceed from Chennai via road. Buses arrive in the centre of the town from either Koyembedu (CMBT) or Tiruvanmiyur (in Chennai) and Kanchipuram. The drive from Chennai on the East Coast Road is, by Indian standards, a wonderful experience.

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Mahabalipuram Reviews

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Pallavi Siddhanta 1 year ago
- Stone carving Local sculptures in the main street leading to the sea teach stone carving. You will learn how to sculpt a simple locket, and the longer you'll stay, the more complicated things you'll be able to do. For a simple locket at least 5 hours are needed. For 100 Rs. a day you can learn/work as long as you like everyday
Sharad Saxena 1 year ago
Awesome place , nice restaurant. Stone carving is awesome.
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