Mahabalipuram Tourism
Beach

Mahabalipuram Tourism

Rank 14
Ranked 14 of 75
Tamil Nadu Tourism Destinations
Destination Rating
5.6 / 7
2651 Ratings & 1739 Reviews

Mahabalipuram Info

  • State: Tamil Nadu
  • Famous for/as: Beach
  • Altitude: 12 m
  • Pincode: 603104
  • District: Kanchipuram
  • Language: Tamil
  • STD code: 044
  • Weather: Summer 21 to 41°C, Winter 17 to 33°C
Mahabalipuram is a tourist destination situated in Tamil Nadu, which has many beautiful places. It is known for its historical monuments, sculptures, scenic beauty, culture and tradition. Mahabalipuram is placed along the Coromandel Coast facing the Bay of Bengal. It is an attractive tourist spot.
 

History of Mahabalipuram

The name ‘Mahabalipuram’ is derived from a myth. The place was ruled by a very arrogant and cruel king named Mahabali who was later killed by Lord Vishnu and this place is named after that King Mahabali. 

The Gupta dynasty declined and Pallavas rose to power in south India and ruled for quite some time. The period between 650 AD and 750 AD was called as the golden age of Pallavas and they were powerful and intelligent thinkers. During their rule, great poets, saints, artisans, scholars, artists and dramatists emerged in the region. 

Mahabalipuram has unique and beautiful sculptures and paintings, which reflect the talent and skill artisans from the era possessed. Their creativity and innovation can be seen in the best possible form as they explored new styles and innovations eliciting the best in art and architecture. Mahabalipuram is not only known for its architecture, but also known for its casuarinas trees and silver sand beach. These attractions are an integral part of Mahabalipuram tourism. 

Things to do in Mahabalipuram

The Pallavas did not expose their creations, as they were not exposed to the outer world and were kept hidden until the late 185th century. Mahabalipuram has temples made out of a single rock, temples of different structures and artistic bas-reliefs, which is the largest in the world. The great architecture is a delight to the visitors even today and attracts devotees from far off places. Mahabalipuram has two low hills whose either sides have excavates temples called Mandapas. It has unique architecture with different sculptures (Nandi, Lion and Elephant), rathas (cut out temples) and a palace.    
    
One of the prominent festivals celebrated here is the Mamallapuram Dance Festival, which is organised by the Department of Tourism every year at the ancient 7th century Centre for Pallava Culture and Arts. As part of the festival, various dance forms are showcased including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi. There is a lot more to Mahabalipuram tourism and travellers can explore history by opting for Mahabalipuram holiday packages. 

Travelling to Mahabalipuram

To reach Mahabalipuram, tourists can take flights, trains or travel by road. The nearest airport to Mahabalipuram is in Chennai, located close to 60 km away. The nearest railhead is in Chengalpattu, close to 30 km from Mahabalipuram. Tourists can also drive down from nearby cities such as Bangalore. The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is between October and March. 

Accommodation options in Mahabalipuram

Hotels in Mahabalipuram range from beach resorts, luxury hotels to guesthouses, lodges and budget hotels. 
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Most preferred by...

Travellers from Chennai, Bangalore
Couple
Family

Best time to visit Mahabalipuram in the next six months

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Mahabalipuram Traveller Reviews

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Read 83 destination reviews
with average rating of 5.6/7, 1
out of 1739 Mahabalipuram reviews 83
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Akshat

  • Tourist
  • Akshat
  • Lives in Jaipur
  • 1 Review

"Great place for relaxation!" new review

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted Today
Although, there isn't much to see here in Mahabalipuram but it is indeed a great place to relax for a weekend. It is easily approachable from Chennai and even a short drive from Pondicherry. The beaches here are clean and good for a quick swim or even a surf. The temples are not at all that interesting but if you hire a guide and get to know the story, it might just fascinate you how they are the remains after a tsunami.
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Sabareesh Gudla

  • Tourist
  • Sabareesh Gudla
  • 1 Review
  •  18 readers

"Best place for a mini hang out" new review

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 1 week ago
It's a best place to go with friend's and enjoy the beauty of nature and also we can spent some time in beach. The architecture of that temple was good. It's a tourism sport along with this we can enjoy the bike racing in Beach like go karting. Its a best place if we go in batch.
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Jyotsna Shenoy

  • Tourist
  • Jyotsna Shenoy
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 6 photos
  • 5 Reviews

"Mahabalipuram - first solo travel experience!" new review

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 2 weeks ago
During the second week of July 2013, I was in Chennai for a two week work related training. I had exactly one Sunday in between and I didn't want to spend it in Chennai when I had other options to travel to. I initially planned to go see Pondicherry, but as I mentioned this plan to a local friend, he recommended I go somewhere closer, and suggested Mahabalipuram. He said I could catch a bus at Thiruvanmiyur that would go straight to Mahabalipuram. 'But don't go alone was his only advice to me. Saturday evening, I met another friend of mine in Chennai, and she took me out for dinner to Raintree Hotel. I asked her if she'd be interested to come along with me but she had already made other plans and asked me to stay back next weekend after my training. But I had to be back at work the next Monday and preferred to leave to Bangalore soon after the training. So I somehow wanted to squeeze in Mahabs on my first Sunday in Chennai.

This is when I decided I would rather go alone, than wait for company. Mahabs was my first solo trip outside of a metro city in India and I am glad I did it. I took an auto from my friend's place to Thiruvanmiyur bus stand. Getting the right bus to go to Mahabs wasn't very hard. I had to ask around a bit, but not many people on Chennai streets seem to speak any other language than Tamil. Thankfully, the people I asked understood Mahabalipuram and I found the right spot to wait for the right bus.

The route to Mahabs from Chennai is scenic and we passed plain open fields on one side and sprawling resorts and Theme parks on the other. It took about an hour and a half to get to Mahabs and the bus stopped at Mahabalipuram bus stop at about 12:45 pm. Armed with the Mahabalipuram Wikipedia page, as soon as I alighted, I asked a little store keeper, where I could find these monuments as listed on my phone screen. He pointed right up ahead and managed to communicate to me to start there and walk, you'll find everything you want to seeĀ¯.

So I set off towards the first monument I could see. It was Arjuna's penance. It being Sunday, there were lots of families on outing that day as well. Vendors seemed to sell little trinkets and stone carved statuettes all around. One such vendor, a young chap, walked up to me and tried to get me to buy something from him. He had some very beautifully carved stone statuettes of Ganesha, Vishnu and other Hindu Gods and Goddesses. As he showed me his wares, I suddenly spotted the one I wanted. It was a set of ten murthys (idols) one for each avatar of Vishnu. I knew right away that that would be the souvenir I would leave Mahabs with. But I didn't want to lug it around with me on a hot sunny day, as I explored the little town. So I told him I'd be back around 4 pm and I'd buy it from him then. Then he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. In his pidgin English, he told me he'd show me around Mahabs and that he wasn't a tour guide, but that he'd like to show me around. Since I had no company anyway, and it would be nice to hear a little about each monument, I agreed.

We walked on to the rest of the monuments. We walked to some large rocks where monkeys were bold enough to mingle with people and the sides of the paths had vendors selling pretty pebbles and lockets carved of stone. When we got to the old light house, my guide helped me get a ticket to enter the old light house (Not that I couldn't have gotten it myself, but it was nice to have a sort of private tour guide who doubled up as nice company too). People are let in in batches to climb up. He waited all the while, while I got to climb up the really narrow, steep cast iron stairs of the old tower. From atop, one gets a 360 degree view of Mahabs, and even a glimpse of the Pancharathas, which are about a twenty minute walk away. The closest monument visible from atop is the Bagiratha's penance.

By the time I got down from the light house, it was past 2:30 pm and I was hungry. But I still had Shore Temple to see. As we walked towards Shore Temple, we passed several sculpting workshops and I came across a huge crocodile. The guy whose shop it was parked at said he would sell it for Rs. Seventy five thousand! I politely requested him if I could take a picture of the stone crocodile, as I couldn't afford to buy it. Perma-vacationers (people who earn their livelihood in vacation / tourist spots) are generally friendly, and he didn't have a problem if I took a picture of the croc without buying it.

I was starving by the time we left Shore Temple. I asked him where the shacks were so I could grab a bite of some sea food. He said he'd take me there too. As we walked towards the shacks, he couldn't help admiring me saying something along the lines of 'you're an Indian woman and you're travelling alone. I've never seen this before, and you're really brave.

As we left the part of the town with sculptures, we approached guest-houses and just past the guest-houses are restaurants with lively music straining out from them. I spotted Moonraker's but I wanted to go closer to the sea and watch the waves as I ate. One he dropped me to my food destination, I paid him for not only the statuette set but also for his warm hospitality and he went on his way back to the town.

The shack I picked had some delicious calamari with finger chips. After relishing it, I chilled by myself with a chocolate shake. Now, I tend to make friends wherever I travel to, and today wasn't any different. There were a bunch of young people from Chennai with their kids in tow, in Mahabs for the weekend and they soon had me over at their table. After a few drinks, they planned to move to another shack and asked me to tag along. As I had to get back to Chennai that same day, I wanted to leave to catch the last bus back to Chennai. But they said they had cars and were happy to drop me back to my hotel in Chennai, if I decided to hang out with them a little longer. They were driving back in a few hours as their kids had school and they had to go to work the next day. So I skipped taking the last bus to Chennai and we moved to the next shack a little while later.

This shack had something awesome about it. The bright green coloured steps leading up to it on the first floor had yummy foods painted on it starting from the letter A. It was all about ice creams and shakes and pizza. If I had my way with the stairway to heaven, it would be painted exactly like this!

As the kids of my new friends were cleaning up from surfing and playing on the beach, I had some time for myself to check out some sculpture shops along the lane. As I was looking at identical marble elephants and candle stands, the guy in the shop invited me in to look at some more of his works. He had 3 foot high Ganapathi idol that he said would go for rupees three lakhs. His works were really impressive and my fascination with his artistry was evident on my face. He brought out some albums with his works and exhibitions. It was incredible to see such raw talent. He said he had been learning sculpting since 8 years. The one work of his that is still fresh in my mind is the facial sculpt of a guy with a skeleton in a Nataraj-like pose and skulls carved on the base. He said the guy had it made to order. I only have pics of the sculpture. This artist told me the guy who ordered it had tears in his eyes when he saw it. I don't know how far the truth is stretched on that one, but I have no doubt I'd be in tears if I got something like that made to order from him. I am glad I stayed back to hang out with the families I met in the shacks for I got to see this! I couldn't afford to buy anything big from him back then, but I wanted to buy something hand made from him, unlike the identical pieces which are factory manufactured. I browsed for a long time through his store and found a hand carved lion that fit my budget and in my bag. The lion and the Vishnu Avatars still adorn my showcase at home in Bangalore and my day in Mahabs remains fresh in my memory as I see them every time I go home.

I am glad I didn't listen to my friends who asked me not to go alone for I would have missed out on the exhilarating feeling solo travel brings with it. This one day visit to Mahabalipuram fortuitously became my first solo trip. Because of the wonderful experience that it was, I never faltered to travel alone again, and that has led to several liberating solo trips around South India.
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Vishal Mahajan

  • Explorer
  • Vishal Mahajan
  • Lives in Mumbai
  • 4 photos
  • 8 Reviews
  •  1 helpful vote
  •  2114 readers

"Off beat destination -Mahabalipuram"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 1 month ago
It's worth spending a day there. I chose to spend a night there but a day travel is more than enough to cover the place. Panch rate temple a must visit and also the butter ball rock. Please don't buy any statue from outside the sites. They all are fictitious and it's better to buy from the designated shops. Sea shore temple will mesmerise you and prefer to have a guide to know the history of the place as he will explain the architect also.
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  • 1 vote

Amit Ghosh

  • Guru
  • Amit Ghosh
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 23 photos
  • 500 Reviews
  •  71 helpful votes
  •  88340 readers

"Beautiful Temples at Mahabalipuram"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 1 month ago
Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu will stun anybody who has knack for history or culture. A short drive from Chennai, this place is famous for the beautiful temples which date back to few centuries. The city under the sea is a major attraction. Devote a day to visit this beautiful historic spot right by the Bay of Bengal.
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Rizwanuddin Rafiq

  • Guru
  • Rizwanuddin Rafiq
  • Lives in Bhopal
  • 1149 photos
  • 430 Reviews
  •  5077 helpful votes
  •  38349 readers

"World Heritage Site-Mahabalipuram"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted 2 months ago
This Heritage Village, on the Coromandel Coast, provides a fascinating glimpse into the homes and lifestyles of the people of South India. This is situated at 58 Km from Chennai, along the bay of Bengal. Dakshina Chitra, temples, museum and the lovely beach attracts, a lot. This place is quite attractive and marvelous destination, to explore. It is also the UNESCO's world heritage site, as it was once a major port city too. All the year, its attraction and connectivity remain. Here you may have lot of entertainment.
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  • 21 votes

Vidyut Maurya

  • Expert
  • Vidyut Maurya
  • Soulseeker
  • Lives in Ghaziabad
  • 33 photos
  • 39 Reviews
  •  13 helpful votes
  •  17433 readers

"Great tourist place!"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted 2 months ago
One of the best destination in south India. It is 60 kilometer away from Chennai. Must stay here for one day. See here the great shore temple and panch rathas. Krishna butter ball. Mahishasura mardini caves. And arjun tap caves. Must try here to eat Dosa and irani tea.
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Praveen Kumar

  • Scout
  • Praveen Kumar
  • Lives in New Delhi
  • 1 Review
  •  621 readers

"Beach holiday destination!"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 3 months ago
Well planned event, was full of group activities scheduled and were planned. Everyone enjoyed including the kids, ladies, gentlemen, senior citizens, balance of inter-cultural and closely knitted group helped in after care of kids and elders. More of a team building without any destinations touch and full of mass masti with each other as per our desires.
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Syed mujeer Ahmed

  • Scout
  • Syed mujeer Ahmed
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 3 Reviews
  •  1202 readers

"Very good ancient temples and beach"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 3 months ago
I had been to Mahabalipuram with my family few days back. I liked the ancient temples which was a delight to see. Arjunas penance, the five rathas and the shore temple are very well maintained. We had been to the top of the light house and the view from the top was awesome. We had fun at the beach too. Really worth visiting this wonderful place.
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Rohit Ak

  • Expert
  • Rohit Ak
  • 8 photos
  • 27 Reviews
  •  31 helpful votes
  •  5642 readers

"Sea shore temple-Mahabalipuram"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Oct 8, 2015
The place is extremely good. The weather is pleasant and sea is calm. The waters of Mahabalipuram is crystal clear. The medieval temple adds to the beauty of this place. The temple is very well preserved and is a masterpiece of rock carving architecture. The place is very neat and tidy.
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  • 1 vote

Natalie goral Veeran Natarajan Prem kumar Natalie goral, Veeran, Natarajan and 2604 other people have been to Mahabalipuram.
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