Escape the bustle of Chennai on an easy day trip to visit the town of Mahabalipuram and its ruins. The Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram’s most iconic landmark, consists of two intricately carved towers standing watch over the Bay of Bengal. The nearby Panch Pandava Rathas, five stone shrines each carved from a single piece of rock, clearly display the astounding talent of the ancient stonemasons who built them.
Expand your understanding of the site by booking a guided tour; many groups include round-trip transportation from Chennai. To get a broader perspective on the region, join a tour through Tamil Nadu state—most include stops at Mahabalipuram and nearby Pondicherry.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Mahabalipuram is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs.
Wear sun protection and comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
Most of this attraction is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.
How to Get There
Mahabalipuram is situated on the coastal road that runs south from Chennai to the tip of Tamil Nadu, about an hour’s drive by car. Plenty of public buses make the trip, as do organized day tours.
When to Get There
Mahabalipuram is open daily throughout the year, but it’s not as pleasant during the hotter months of April and May and the wetter months of June through September. If possible, get an early start to tour the stone monuments in the morning before the heat and tourist crowds descend.
Many visitors to Mahabalipuram also visit Pondicherry, about a 90-minute drive to the south, popular with full- and multi-day tour groups as well as independent travelers. This coastal city was one of the last colonial outposts in India, run by the French until shortly after Independence, with Old World architecture and French-influneced restaurants to show for it.
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