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    You must have read fables and tales about Mahabalipuram in Upanishads and novels. A small town on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake attracts tourists and pilgrims because of its historical temples and alluring sunsets. These places to visit in Mahabalipuram tell a tale that is thousands of years old. If you happen to be in Tamil Nadu for a vacation, then you should definitely put this place on your bucket list. You will be thankful for every second that you spend here admiring the architecture, art, and culture of the small Tamilian town.

    Best Time To Visit Mahabalipuram

    Best time to visit Mahabalipuram

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    Located on the beautiful East Coast Road in the state of Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram is one of the most stunning destinations to go to during the winter season from October to March. Summers are extremely harsh, and it becomes extremely difficult to go around as well.

    The weather gets very humid, and the scorching sun can make one feel exhausted and dehydrated quickly. The temperature during these months can vary anywhere between 22 degrees to 31 degrees.

    15 Best Places To Visit Mahabalipuram

    There are plenty of tourist attractions in Mahabalipuram that will keep you busy with sightseeing in this city of temples. All of these places are famed for their iconic and brilliant structures. You must definitely add the below listed tourist places in Mahabalipuram to your Tamil Nadu itinerary for a memorable and fun vacation in 2020.

    • India Seashell Museum – Witness The Beautiful Sea Elements
    • Shore Temples – Beautifully Located Structures
    • Five Rathas – Significant To A Hindu Epic
    • Krishna’s Butterball – An Intriguing Structure
    • Tiger Caves – Magnet For History Buffs
    • Mahabalipuram Beach – Tranquil Atmosphere
    • Arjuna’s Penance – Best Tamilian Architecture
    • Alamparai Fort – A Significant Historical Site
    • Crocodile Bank – The Predators In Their Habitat
    • Covelong Beach – A Charming Retreat
    • Mahishasura Mardini Cave Temple – Rock Cut Relic
    • Krishna Cave Temple – Remarkable Wall Carvings
    • Ganesh Ratha Temple – Finest Example Of 7th Century Architecture
    • Trimurti Cave – The Power Of Three Gods
    • Mamallapuram Lighthouse – Exquisite Views

    1. India Seashell Museum – Witness The Beautiful Sea Elements

    Best Museum in Mahabalipuram

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    If you are in Mahabalipuram, India Seashell Museum is one of the places to visit in Mahabalipuram Tamil Nadu. This museum houses seashells, conch, and other natural substances obtained from the sea. It also has a beautiful aquarium that has a variety of sea creatures like fishes, starfishes, sharks, etc. It would easily take about an hour or two to go around this place. One can also find a curator who would take you around and give a detailed explanation of the museum.

    Timings: 8 am to 8 pm every day
    Entrance fee for museum plus aquarium: 130 INR/-
    Location: 191/1A2, Kalpakkam, Road, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104

    Must Read: Mahabalipuram In Tamil Nadu: Explore The Unique Culture Of Southern India In 2020

    2. Shore Temples – Beautifully Located Structures

    Best temple in Mahabalipuram

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    There is a group of temples in Mahabalipuram that one must certainly go to. A couple of temples are deep inside the water and you can choose to cruise in the ocean and discover those underwater temples. These temples hold great historical significance to the locals here. When the water levels are low, the hidden temples come to the surface.

    Since they are located in the Bay of Bengal, it is coined as Shore temples. It belonged to the 8th century AD and was constructed by the Pallava dynasty. These temples are the best places to visit in Mahabalipuram.

    Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
    Entrance fee for Indians: 10 INR/-, children below 15 years: Free
    Foreigner entry fee: 340 INR/-
    Location: Building complex in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

    Suggested Read: 10 Things To Do In Chennai To Explore The Southern Pearl Of India At Its Best

    3. Five Rathas – Significant To A Hindu Epic

    Five Rathas

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    Five Rathas is one of those historical places that one must certainly go to during their visit to Mahabalipuram. The five Rathas link back to the era of the great Indian epic Mahabharata and the five Pandavas and visiting them is one of the best things to do in Mahabalipuram. If one wants to get a true glimpse of Dravidian architecture, then you must take a tour around these Rathas or chariots. The sight of the huge elephant structures can give you a beautiful feel of a bygone era. For all those architecture lovers, this is one must-go-to place.

    Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
    Entrance fee for Indians: 10 INR/-
    Foreigner entry fee: 250 INR/-
    Location: Historical landmark in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

    Suggested Read: 35 Best Tourist Places In Tamil Nadu Ensuring The Most Awesome 2020 Vacay!

    4. Krishna’s Butterball – An Intriguing Structure

    Krishna’s Butterball

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    A huge rock a little way from the Five Rathas attracts a lot of tourists towards it. The positioning of the rock is quite surprising and has left a lot of scientists to wear their thinking hats. According to the legend, the king Narasimhavarman tried moving this huge boulder but he was unable to.

    Hence, the locals believe and call this boulder as the Stone of Sky God. Also, a few people relate this boulder to the butterball that was being snatched by Krishna from his mother, Yashoda.

    Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
    Entrance fee for Indians: 40 INR/-
    Foreigner entry fee: 600 INR/-
    Location: E Raja St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104

    Suggested Read: 6 Famous Festivals Of Tamil Nadu Which Will Take You Close To The Ancient Traditions Of The State!

    5. Tiger Caves – Magnet For History Buffs

    Tiger Caves

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    The people love to go to this place because of the architectural structure and also the historical significance it has. The structure is more or less like a mandap. The primary deity of the shrine in the tiger Caves is the goddess Durga. This place is located almost 4 km away from the main city of Mahabalipuram. There are 11 heads of tigers that are picturesquely carved on the walls of the caves. Hence, the place is called Tiger Caves.

    Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
    Location: Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104

    Suggested Read: 9 Magnificent Mahabalipuram Resorts For A Blissful Stay In This Ancient City!

    6. Mahabalipuram Beach – Tranquil Atmosphere

    Mahabalipuram Beach

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    Also called Mamallapuram by the locals, the famous Mahabalipuram Beach is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and is one of the best tourist places in Mahabalipuram. It features plenty of prominent rock-cut sculptures that are sure to melt your heart! There are stunning caves, massive rathas, chariots, and temples on this beach that attract hundreds of pilgrims, architecture fans, and history geeks to these shores every month, and leaves them beguiled! Other than exploring these unique Mahabalipuram temples and caves, this beach is a great place to relax and spend quality time with your loved ones.

    Location: Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: Open 24X7
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: Top 7 Hotels In Mahabalipuram For A Luxurious And Comfortable Stay On Your Trip In 2020

    7. Arjuna’s Penance – Best Tamilian Architecture

    Arjuna's Penance in Mahabalipuram

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    The Arjuna’s Penance is one of the largest rock-cut reliefs in the whole world and one of the most popular places to visit in Mahabalipuram. Also known as the ‘Descent of the Ganges’ owing to its unique structure that depicts these two eminent and symbolic events in the Hindu mythology, this attraction is a favourite spot of historians, scholars, academics, and tourists who love ancient Tamilian architecture. What makes it one of the greatest temples in India is its 7th century art and the unique form of carving and sculpting that has given it its distinct shape and structure, and also landed it on the list of sites protected by ASI and UNESCO.

    Location: Mamallapuram, Chengalpattu district, Tamil Nadu, India
    Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
    Entrance fee: INR 10 (Indians) | INR 250 (Foreign Nationals) | INR 25 (Videography)

    Suggested Read: 12 Pristine Beaches Near Coimbatore Which One Must Definitely Visit When They Are In Tamil Nadu!

    8. Alamparai Fort – A Significant Historical Site

    Alamparai Fort in Mahabalipuram

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    Not many are aware of the existence of the Alamparai Fort in Mahabalipuram, since it’s not as famous as other places to see in Mahabalipuram. However, this captivating fort is a very important historical site in this city. It’s essentially a long forgotten trading post that has a striking and rather imposing architecture, and the views from its top are sure to take your breath away! Though it’s not in perfect condition anymore, a walk across this dilapidated yet enthralling fort will make you feel like stepping back in time. Owing to the numerous shrubs, creepers, bushes, and trees here, it is a remarkable example of ancient architecture that has let nature take over and blended perfectly with the surrounding foliage.

    Location: Edaikazhinadu, Tamil Nadu 603304
    Timings: 8 AM – 6 PM
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 8 Famous Temples In Kodaikanal For A Divine Getaway To Tamil Nadu In 2020

    9. Crocodile Bank – The Predators In Their Habitat

    Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

    Looking for some places to visit in Mahabalipuram next? Don’t forget to visit the exciting Crocodile Bank situated about 14 km from Mahabalipuram main city. Established by herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 1976, this conservation center holds a diverse species of Indian and African alligators, crocodiles, and even snakes. You’ll be able to spot these ferocious beings out in open pools here that have been made to resemble their natural habitat. The snake farm located right next to this center has a laboratory where antivenom is produced, helping the local snake catcher tribes make a living.

    Location: Post Bag No 4, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
    Timings: 9 AM – 5 PM
    Entrance fee: INR 35

    Suggested Read: 12 Places Near Kanyakumari For The Perfect Weekend Getaway In 2020

    10. Covelong Beach – A Charming Retreat

    A couple strolling on the Kovalam Beach

    A popular tourist hub on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal, the famous Covelong Beach is located in the Covelong Village a few miles away from the main city of Mahabalipuram. This charming retreat is one of the best beaches near Chennai for nature lovers, beach bums, and couples who wish to spend quality time on its silver sands, palm trees, and crashing waves. Once entangled in long-drawn political squabbles, this beach has now been transformed into one of most happening picnic spots near Chennai. Another interesting factor that draws people to this village is that it has India’s first Surfing School which makes it one of the top places to see in Mahabalipuram.

    Location: Covelong, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 23 Picnic Spots In And Around Chennai For An Extravagant Holiday Experience In 2020

    11. Mahishasura Mardini Cave Temple – Rock Cut Relic

    Mahishasura Mardini Cave Temple

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    Mahishasura Mardini Cave Temple is an epitome of 7th century Indian architecture. This monument is also known as Yampuri and is a rock-cut structure that leaves one in awe because of the aesthetics. One of the beautiful places to visit in Mahabalipuram, Mahishasura Mardini Cave Temple adorns carvings of the Hindu mythology. It showcases the Lord Vishnu on his seven hooded serpent and Lord Durga sitting on her lion as she slays the demon Mahishasur. A magnet for Hindu devotees and pilgrims, this structure also have scenes of Puranas depicted on the cave walls. This temple is sitting atop a hill and offers impeccable views of the surroundings.

    Location: Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: NA
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 9 Things To Do In Madurai For An Interesting Experience During Tamil Nadu 2020 Vacation!

    12. Krishna Cave Temple – Remarkable Wall Carvings

    Krishna Cave Temple

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    Another one of the open-air relic with the architecture dating back to the 7th century. As the name suggests, this temple is decdicate to Lord Krishna and is one of the eye-catching places to visit in Mahabalipuram. The monument found itself to become a part of the Group of Monuments that were taken under the list of UNSECO World Heritage Sites back in the year 1984. It was during the 16th century that the temple was enclosed with the empire of Vijayanagar. The brilliant and remarkable craftsmanship from that Era can be witnessed via the carvings of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Parvat adorning the walls of the cave.

    Location: W Raja St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: 8 am to 6 pm
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 11 Exciting Things To Do In Yercaud For A Mesmerising Holiday In Tamil Nadu In 2020

    13. Ganesh Ratha Temple – Finest Example Of 7th Century Architecture

    Ganesh Ratha Temple

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    Ganesh Ratha temple is the apex of rock cut Indian architecture that was formed using just one rugged element. One of the fascinating places to see in Mahabalipuram, Ganesh Ratha Temple was also constructed back in the 7th century and is a present day eye candy for the history buffs out there in the country. The temple was built when Mahendravarman I was reigning. This temple is devoted to the God of destruction, Lord Shiva. It is also said that a Shivaling was also placed inside the temple but later it was removed. In the present days, the temple has devoted every nook to Lord Ganesha who is worshipped here. Innumerable Hindu pilgrims do pay a visit to the temple.

    Location: Mahabalipuram, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: 8 am to 6 pm
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 14 Exciting Things To Do In Mahabalipuram On Your Next Vacay In Tamil Nadu In 2020!

    14. Trimurti Cave – The Power Of Three Gods

    Trimurti Cave

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    As the name suggests, Trimurti Cave blankets the rock cut formation of the three Gods of the Hindu mythology. These Gods were the creater aka Brahma, god of preservation aka Vishnu, and the god of destruction aka Shiva. The other cave temples that cover the floors of Mahabalipuram have pillared mandaps but this one opens directly to the shrines of three Gods. One of the interesting places to see in Mahabalipuram, Tirumati Cave is also home to the shrine of Goddess Durga on her lion as she slays the demon Mahishasura.

    Location: Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: NA
    Entrance fee: Nil

    Suggested Read: 44 Best Tourist Places In Tamil Nadu Ensuring The Most Awesome 2020 Vacay!

    15. Mamallapuram Lighthouse – Exquisite Views

    Mamallapuram Lighthouse

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    The lighthouse is one of the must visit places to see in Mahabalipuram. This particular beauty was constructed back in the 20th century. But the lighthouse was only open to the public in the year 2011. The structure of the lighthouse is built using the natural stones. The best part about this lighthouse is that the travelers are given permission to climb up the stoney stairs. Once atop, the panoramic views of the surroundings is a real treat for both eyes and soul of spectators. It is truly an experience that is worth every capture!

    Location: Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
    Timings: 9:30 to 5 pm
    Entrance fee: INR 100

    Suggested Read: 10 Honeymoon Places In Tamil Nadu For A Romantic Getaway In 2020!

    How To Reach

    How To Reach Mahabalipuram

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    Via Road

    The best way to reach Mahabalipuram is to take a bus from Chennai, and there are several buses that frequently ply to this place. It takes about 2-3 hours to reach Mahabalipuram because of the heavy traffic. Also, one can also choose to book private buses from some of the major cities as there are a lot of services.

    Via Train

    The closest railway station to Mahabalipuram is around 22km away, and the place is called Chengalpattu. One can also take a train to Chennai and from there, hire a taxi or even commute through the Tamil Nadu Public transport. The buses are frequently available, and this can be one of the convenient ways too. Chennai railway station is 62 km from Mahabalipuram.

    Via Air

    There aren’t any direct flights to Mahabalipuram, and the closest is the Chennai Airport. All the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and other big cities are well-connected. The distance from the airport to Mahabalipuram is approximately 52 km. From here, one can hire a taxi and reach the temple town of Mahabalipuram.

    Further Read: 8 Homestays In Mahabalipuram To Feel At Home On Your Trip To The South!

    Exploring these places to visit in Mahabalipuram can be a once in a lifetime experience. Witnessing the beauty of an architectural marvel that has an amazing history is a great thing to do on your vacation in Tamil Nadu. Also, experiencing the lovely sunrise from the mesmeric Bay of Bengal is yet another thing that would be etched in your mind and heart forever.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Mahabalipuram

    Q. What is the best time to visit Mahabalipuram?

    A. Winters (October to March) are the best months to plan a trip to go to Mahabalipuram.

    Q. Is Chennai close to Mahabalipuram?

    A. Yes, Chennai is at a distance of 62 km from Mahabalipuram.

    Q. Are the beaches in Mahabalipuram opened 24 hours?

    A. No, it is not open until late at night. You can visit the beaches during the day.

    Q. Is there a direct flight to Mahabalipuram?

    A. No, there are no direct flights to Mahabalipuram.

    Q. Is Pondicherry close to Mahabalipuram?

    A. Yes, a trip to Pondicherry would be possible when you go to Mahabalipuram. It is just a 1-hour journey from here.

    Q. Can a weekend trip to Mahabalipuram be planned?

    A. Yes, a weekend trip from Chennai can be planned easily to Mahabalipuram.

    Q. Is there an entry fee at the temples?

    A. Yes, there is a nominal fee at the temples in Mahabalipuram.


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