About Mahabalipuram

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.

Place to must visit in Mahabalipuram


Places to Visit in Mahabalipuram

Travellers are preffering these places in Mahabalipuram

Experience Time:

Distance: 2 kms

Mahabalipuram Beach

Also known as Mamallapuram by locals, the Mahabalipuram Beach is situated at a distance of 58 km from the Chennai city in Tamil Nadu. The beach lies on the shore of Bay of Bengal and comprises of some rock-cut sculptures which are pleasing to the eyes. It is also famous for caves, massive rathas, chariots and temples which offer a great spot for holiday. The Mahabalipuram beach is a perfect place to relax and give yourself a break from the deadlines and work pressure on a daily basis. People from near and far flock to the beach especially to enjoy the natural sunbathing offered by the beach. The windsurfers and swimming lovers are bound to have an amazing time at the beach for they are seen doing just that on the shores of the beach. So as to attract tourists, the beach also has interesting places to offer including a crocodile bank with about 5000 crocodiles belonging to 6 different species, a school of art & sculpture and a snake venom extracting centre. There are also numerous resorts along the beach offering delicious food joints to fill the empty bellies of visitors. The scintillating beach has golden sand all along the stretch surrounded by rising hills and the sparkling sea. Mahabalipuram is a town mostly known for its shore temples which were constructed by Rajasimha, the king of Pallavas in old times. Therefore, the strategic location of the beach amidst the rocks and lagoon makes it a perfect combination of history, tourism and beaches ideal for vacation. The beach stretches for about 20 km and there are numerous lovely beaches present all along the coastline perfect for a little relaxation. Also, at this captivating beauty of Mahabalipuram a dance festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu every year where one can get to see extremely talented classical dancers performing against the backdrop of the sea.

Experience Time: 1-2 hrs

Distance: 1 kms

Shore Temple

Built during the 7th century, Shore Temple is one of the oldest South Indian temples constructed in the Dravidian style and depicts the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty. It is a testimonial to the heritage of India. It is located in Mahabalipuram and is one of the most photographed monuments in India located on the shores of Bay of Bengal. The work of the temple has been listed amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Shore Temple's name originated as a result of its overlooking the shore of Bay of Bengal. It is built with blocks of granite which can be dated back to the 8th century AD. It comprises of three shrines, where the prominent ones are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In the Sanctum Sanctorum an image of Shivalinga is present. Towards the end, two shrines facing each other can be spotted. One shrine out of this is dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara and the other one to Lord Vishnu. The image shows Lord Vishnu reclining on the 'Seshanag' which depicts "consciousness" in Hinduism. The Shore Temple is no more a living temple. It was constructed as a work of art. The Pallavas, who were known to be great patrons of art wanted to create a temple in their own style of architecture. At present, Shore Temple is made the background of the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival which is held in January/February every year. The festival marked as well as promoted the traditional dance as well as tourism in Mahabalipuram. The temple looks beautiful due to the lights during weekend evenings.

Experience Time:

Distance: 2 kms

Five Rathas

The Five Rathas, also known as Panch Rathas, is a exemplary set of rock temples. They are excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. These temples are built in the same shape as pagodas, and greatly resemble Buddhist shrines and monasteries. The rathas are associated with the great epic Mahabharata. The first ratha that is located right by the entrance gate is Draupadi's Ratha. It is shaped like a hut and is dedicated to the goddess Durga. Next comes Arjuna's Rath. This one has a small portico and carved pillar stones and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are no carvings inside this temple, but many are on the outside. Directly in front of Arjuna's Rath is the Nakula Sahadev Rath. This ratha has some huge elephant sculptures included that are a huge draw for the Five Rathas. It is dedicated to the God of Rain, Lord Indra. The Bhima Rath is huge. It measures 42 ft in length, 24ft in width, and 25ft in height. The pillars there do contain lion carvings even though the ratha as a whole is incomplete. The largest of the Five Rathas is the Dharamraja Yudhistar's Rath. This rath is also dedicated to Lord Shiva .

Experience Time: 1-2 hrs

Distance: 1 kms

Arjuna's Penance

The Arjuna's Penance is an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world, situated in Mahabalipuram of Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu. It is also known by the name 'Descent of the Ganges' because the structure depicts either or both of these two significant and symbolic events of Hindu mythology; thus making this attraction spot a favourite among historians, scholars, academics as well as tourists who are enthusiastic about the cultural past of India. Not just historically, the structure is a fine specimen of this unique form of art of carving and sculpting on rock forms, that has roots way back in the 7th century South India. Most of these rock forms, including Arjuna's Penance, owe its existence to the Pallava dynasty that ruled over the region south of Vindhyas from 4th to 9th century. Till date these sites bear the legacy of the Pallava art, now being protected by ASI and UNESCO. People gather here throughout the year, not only to experience the unimaginable efficiency of the craftsman of that era that made such a creation possible only with basic tools like hammer and chisel; but also to learn about the interesting stories that hide behind its interpretation. It is a crowd favourite in Mahabalipuram and represent one of those attraction sites in South India where culture meets history to create a great opportunity for explorers.

Experience Time: 1-2 hrs

Distance: 45 kms

Alamparai Fort

Many do not know the significance of the captivating fort as this long forgotten trading post is spoken about quite infrequently. In fact, the fort was listed in the International Tourism Fair in Berlin as one of the twenty lesser known tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu by The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). No matter what the present condition of the Alamparai fort is, the view is sure to take your breath away. As you walk across the enthralling fort, you'll find surprising traces of life in the form of shrubs, creepers, bushes and trees even on the walls. It almost looks like they are supporting those parts of the structure and help them stand strong even today. The Alamparai Fort exudes a gloomy yet attractive vibe that is irresistible for many. Some may condemn the state of the fort, and some may still find beauty in its existence. The enchanting location of the fort has been used for many outdoor advertisement and movie shootings including a Tamil movie named Pithamagan, starring Suriya and Vikram, famous actors in Tollywood. References to this beautiful location and the trading post are also made in Sangam Literature, Cirupanarruppatai. Alamparai served as a sea port in ancient times. It was also known as Alamparva and Alampuravi. The fort was constructed during the rule of the Mughals extending from 1736 CE to 1740 CE. It was first under the control of the Nawab of Arcot Doste Ali Khan. However, it was later given to the French. After the Carnatic war had taken place, French lost to the British which is how the British began exercising direct control over the fort and then the fort got demolished in 1760. Before the war, the fort was ruled by Nawab Doste Ali Khan in 1750, and for the services provided by the French commander Duplex to Subedar Muzarfarzang, the fort was handed over to them.

Experience Time: 1-2 hours

Distance: 4 kms

Tiger Caves

Situated by the shore of the Bay of Bengal, Tigers Caves has been a recreation spot since ages where locals relax after their five-kilometre trek from Mahabalipuram to this idyllic location out of the town. The name of the caves has nothing to do with the presence of any real tigers. The caves got this name from the crown of 11 tigeresque heads which were all carved around the entrance. It is believed that these images resemble an animal called 'yeli' which is a cross between a lion and a tiger. One of the most attractive features of the caves is a carving of Goddess Durga on top of these tigers. There are numerous secrets associated with the Tiger Caves just like the one in 2005 when an inscription was found in the rocks which led to the discovery followed by the excavation of the Subramanya Temple nearby. The grounds of the park are well-maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India thereby making the Tiger Caves a public space. Amidst nature's greenery and fresh air, this architectural beauty is a perfect place to hang out at. There are vendors offering light refreshments along with tender coconut to the tired visitors as well. It is a wonderful place to visit if you love discovering new facts and figures about the history of various places in a scenic beauty away from the busy life of the city.

Experience Time:

Distance: 49 kms

Sadras

Sadras is an exquisite beach resort that has taken full advantage of the beautiful landscape. The beaches that surround Mahabalipuram are beset by beautiful, green casuarinas groves. The contrast of the vibrant green with the sparkling white beaches is breathtaking, and a sight that is a delight to everyone who has to will to enjoy it. This beach resort is located 13 kilometers outside of Mahabalipuram. There is an old ruined Dutch Fort and a Dutch cemetery with finely embossed headstones. It is intruging to explore some of the Dutch history in the region as well as that of India itself.

Experience Time:

Distance: 14 kms

Crocodile Bank

The Crocodile Bank is located 14 kilometers from Mahabalipuram. It was established by herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 1976. It holds a varied species of Indian and African alligators and crocodiles. They are kept in open pools that are made to resemble their natural habitat. This Crocodile Conservation Center is the most popular site to visit at Crocodile Bank. A snake farm is also located at this site. Anti-venom is produced here in laboratries. The process of extracting the snake venom is a popular tourist attraction, and it allows the Irulas, the snake catcher's tribe, to make a living.

Experience Time:

Distance: 1 kms

Descent Of The Ganges

Descent of the Ganges is a monument in Mahabalipuram dedicated to the legend of Goddess Ganga? descent to Earth. There is a giant open-air rock relief carved on two monolithic rock boulders that relates the famous legend of Bhagirath doing a penance and leading the Goddess onto earth. Some historians also believe that the carving are of Arjuna's penance instead to receive Pasupatha Astra to defeat the Kauravas.

Experience Time:

Distance: 2 kms

India Seashell Museum

The newly built sea shell museum of Mahabalipuram is one of its kind in the country and the largest one in Asia. It is basically a repository of various kinds of sea shell kept with an aim to educate its visitors. There over over 40,000 different specimens of rare and unique shell in the place.

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Distance: 1 kms

Krishna's Butter Ball

Krishna? butterball is a gigantic granite Boulder measuring 6 meters high and 5 meters wide and weighs over 250 tons. This strange object in the town of Mahabalipuram is said to be in the same position since over 1200 years. At one point in its history, seven elephants were employed to move it, but to no avail. It is believed that the rock is a piece of stolen butter dropped by the God.

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Distance: 1 kms

Varaha Cave Temple

Varaha Cave Temple is an exquisite rock cut Hindu temple located in Mahabalipuram. Created during the reign of Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla, it is one of greatest examples of Pallava art. The temple dates back to the 7th century and bears a testimony to the ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis. It houses an idol of Lord Vishnu in his Varaha form, a boar lifting Mother Earth.

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Distance: 1 kms

Krishna Cave Temple

Krishna Cave Temple is an open-air relief dedicated to the might of Lord Krishna. It was later enclosed within a mandap during Vijyanagar empire in 16th century. Various carvings in the monument depict the story of the Lord lifting mount Govardhan and of his frolicking with the milk maids. It is said to be the most poetic depiction of the famous legend.

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Distance: 1 kms

Mahishasuramardini Cave

Mahishasura Mardini Cave temple, also known as Yampuri, is a rock-cut monument of Indian architecture, dating back to 7th century. There are two prominent carving featured in the temple? sanctum. A carving of Vishnu on the seven hooded serpent and another of Lord Durga on her lion while slaying demon Mahishasura. The cave also depict scenes of Puranas.

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Distance: 1 kms

Ganesh Ratha Temple

A fine example of the of monolith Indian rock-cut architecture dating back to the late seventh century, the Ganesh Rath was built during the reign of Mahendravarman I. Initially, it was dedicated to Lord Shiva and housed a Shivalinga in the complex, but later on the Linga was removed, and now, Lord Ganesh is worshiped here.

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Distance: 1 kms

Trimurti Cave

Located near the northern hills of Mahabalipuram, Trimurti Cave is famous for its depiction of the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Unlike the other cave temple built by Pallavas, this one does not have a pillared mandap but opens directly to the three shrines. Apart from that, a small shrine dedicated to Durga is also present, depicting the legend of her slaying demon Mahishasur.

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Distance: 1 kms

Sri Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple

Constructed in a Dravidian style, Sthalasayana Perumal Temple also called Thirukadalmallai, is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Lord Vishnu. He is worshiped here as Sthalasayana Perumal with his consort Lakshmi as Nilamangai Thayar. Yearly festival of Bhoothatazhwar Avata festival is also celebrated here during the Tamil month of Aipasi (October_November).

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Distance: 1 kms

Sculpture Museum

Sculpture Museum at Mahabalipuram, as the name suggests, houses sculptures depicting several Hindu mythological characters, gods and goddesses. An elaborate collection of over 3000 sculptures can be found here. The stone, wooden, brass and cement sculptures are intricately carved and bears the historic significance and legends. Various monolithic statues, Rathas, sculptured reliefs and miniatures can also be found.

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Distance: 1 kms

Mamallapuram Lighthouse

Mamallapuram Lighthouse in Mahabalipuram has been open for public view since 2011. The circular masonry tower of the Lighthouse is made of natural stones and is fully functional since 1904. Climbing on the stones and atop the Lighthouse (yes, you are allowed to climb) can be a real treat. From the top, the view is capable of captivating its audience.

Experience Time:

Distance: 1 kms

Olakkannesvara Temple

Olakkannesvara Temple, also known as the Old Lighthouse, is a structural temple built in 8th century. The structure is made out of grey-white granite and has a shikar on the top. Owing to its location on a hillock, it provides a pleasing view of the town. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but the worship has been ceased after the 19th century.

Experience Time: 1-2 hrs

Distance: 17 kms

Covelong Beach

Located on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal near the village Covelong, Kovalam Beach was given the name 'Covelong' by the British due to their inefficiency of pronouncing "Kovalam". A perfect retreat amidst palm trees and silver sand, Covelong Beach was once set up as a port by Saadat Ali for Carnatic Nawabs. In 1746 the French took control of the place, and in 1752, the Britishers lead to its destruction. From the centuries earlier to the times after, the Beach has been transformed into one of the best excursion and picnic spots. The village nearby has India's first Surfing School. The beach offers a plethora of water activities to its visitors. Visiting the beach and entering the mode of relaxation is another thing you can opt for. The calmness it offers during the sunset is unmatchable. Covelong Beach is one of the most beautiful gifts of nature which the locals have failed to realise. Due to its ideal location, the beach observes heavy footfalls every day. The crowd here is a mix of people from both Chennai and Mahabalipuram. Apart from various water activities like surfing, jet skiing, boating, the vicinity of the beach is also famous for fishing. It is even the primary occupation of the villagers living here. The playful sand of the pristine beach is a good host to its guests. Furthermore, it had an old fort which the Dutches had built. The fort now has been turned into a fanciful resort, the Fisherman's Cove Resort which is owned by Taj Groups of Hotels. Moreover, blue waters and silver sands of this beach is indeed a match made in heaven! Once you visit here, you won't stop adoring the colourful bed of seashells. Do get some back as a souvenir of lovely memories.

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