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Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast, which faces the Bay of Bengal. It is located at about 70 Km from Chennai. It was a flourishing port town during the time of Pallavas. The monuments of Mamallapuram are excellent specimen of Dravidian temple architecture and Pallava art. The speciality about Mahabalipuram is the rock - cut caves, temples made from a single rock, temples and strives of different structures, and bas-reliefs, which are so artistic and sheer creativity. Mamallapuram is referred as an 'open-air museum'.

Shore Temple Mahabalipuram

Shore Temple Mahabalipuram

Destination facts

Location: Tamil Nadu, District Kancheepuram
Altitude: 12m
Climate: (summer- 21to 41C) (winter197to 33°C)
Language: Tamil, Hindi and English

How to Reach Mahabalipuram

By Airport: Chennai is the nearest airport
By Rail Station: Chengalpattu is the nearest railheads
By Road: Local transportation is there to roam in Mahabalipuram

Distance from the major cities/towns from Mahabalipuram

Kalpakam - 6km, Chengalpattu - 31km, Mambalam - 55km is the nearby cities.

Places of Tourist Interest:

Arjuna's Penance:
Arjuna's Penance is a famous rock sculpture that portrays a story out of India lore. It is carved onto the back side of a whale shaped rock. The sculpture measures 9 meters high and 27 meters long. Arjuna is the great hero of the great epic Mahabharata and the name of the sculpture comes from his story. There is some controversy however as to whether the story portrayed is actually the story of Arjuna or if it is the story of Bhagiratha who is an ancestor to Lord Rama. Numerous gods and demigods as well as animals and people are all carved on the sculpture.

Tiger's Caves:
Tiger's Caves is near the coastal village of Salurankuppam that is only 5 kilometers to the north of Mahabalipuram. This amazing mandapa contains a shrine that is dedicated to the goddess Durga. There are large and impressive figures located in front of these caves. Like most carvings in India, this carvings and figures also tells a story. This story has to do with an event that happened to the goddess Durga.

Tigers Cave

Mahabalipuram-Tigers Cave

Crocodile Bank:
The Crocodile Bank is located 14 kilometers from Mahabalipuram. It was established by herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 1976. It houses several different 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. 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.

Crocodile Bank

Crocodile Bank Mahabalipuram

Five Ratha's:
The Five Rathas, also known as Panch Rathas, is a 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.

Shore Temple:
It has lately increased in popularity because it is now listed as one of the world heritage sites of the UNESCO. Numerous carvings can be found throughout the temple. Three separate buildings make up the temple. Two are Shiva temples that fast east and west. The third is a Vishnu temple.

Numerous quality beach resorts can be found at Kovalam. The beaches at that location are absolutely exquisite, and are greatly enjoyed by that entire visit there. It is also to these beaches that the well-known Olive Ridley Turtles travel to every year to hatch their eggs.

The beaches that surround Mahabalipuram are encompassed by beautiful, green casuarinas groves. The contrast of the vibrant green with the sparkling white beaches is breathtaking, and a sight that numerous tourists want to experience. This beach resort is located 13 kilometers outside of Mahabalipuram. There is an old ruined Dutch Fort and a Dutch cemetery with finely carved headstones at Sadras as well. It is fascinating to explore some of the Dutch history in the region as well as that of India itself.

Getting Around:

Bus is the only transport to get around this destination.


The shopping is excellent in Mahabalipuram. Handmade crafts made by people in the region are the specialty. These handmade crafts many times come in the form of stone statues carved to look like the enormous originals that are in the area. These statues are normally carved out of granite which enhances their beauty. Many people are more than glad to travel to this region to acquire such fine artistic pieces made by quality artisans. Soapstone images, wood carvings, jewelry, and items made from local seashells are also popular items that are sold in the local shops.

Best time to visit:

October to March is the best time to visit this destination.


The Open Air Dance Festival in Mahabalipuram is an annual four week festival.