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Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) Tourism And Travel Guide
27° C / 80.7° F
December to February
1 to 2 Days
Chennai Airport (53 kms)
Chengalpattu Railway Station (29 kms)
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram, known very warmheartedly as Mahabs, is an olden sea port and township close to the capital city of Chennai, at the South of India. The Mamallapuram Group of Monuments built by the Pallava Kings of the 7-8th centuries are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Pallavas were patrons of art and architecture and the ancients did undoubtedly put their profound skills into constructing the most beautiful bas reliefs, manmade caves and structural temples on the sea shore. Mamallapuram is a great tourism hub, which would be most ideal for a weekend or a stopover. Apart from the temples and the monuments, there is the beach that is very hard to miss. The Bay of Bengal off the coast of Mamallapuram is a great site for surfing.
If you are planning a trip to Mamallapuram, our travel guide will help you plan a good trip.
How to Reach
Mamallapuram is a small touristy town, but it’s easy to travel to Mamallapuram from Chennai, which is well connected to major cities by rail, road or air. The easiest way to reach Mamallapuram is by road from Chennai.
Take a flight to the nearest major airport which is at Chennai. The city caters to domestic and International flights. Hire a cab from the Chennai airport to Mamallapuram.
Take a train to Chennai and then a local EMU or metro train to Chengalpattu. From Chengalpattu railway station, get on a bus to Mamallapuram.
Board a bus from Chennai, Kanchipuram or Pondicherry. There are direct buses to ECR, from Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus(CMBT). You could also get a cab on hire from Chennai.
A stroll round town could help you see the sights. Hire a bicycle to travel along the shopping streets. Or fix up with a cab to take you through the sites on a day’s trip. The town has local buses too, for a quick hop on, hop off trip.
Weather and the Best time to Visit
Winter’s the perfect season to visit Mamallapuram. Read on to know why.
This coastal town gets hot and humid in summer. Evenings get cooler, so spend more time in the beaches. Check out the seasonal fruits in the beach shacks - raw mangoes, tender coconuts and sliced cucumbers.
The early months of monsoon have intermittent rains that get heavy by October as the Northeast monsoon rings in with a bang. Sightseeing is difficult with the rains and this period is off season for travel.
Winter time gets warm and pleasant. The rains have turned the region refreshingly beautiful. January to March is the ideal time for surfing too. This is the best time to visit Mamallapuram.
Things to Do
Turtle Walks are organised from January to April in a bid to conserve Olive Ridley turtles. Help collect the eggs that are hatched onshore and relocate them to artificial hatcheries. After the eggs hatch, you return the babies to the sea.
Watch a film on the Pallava Dynasty of Kings and their glorious reign in an animated documentary at Chronicles India’s 7DX movie at East Raja Street in Mamallapuram.
Travel into the heritage and historical legacy of South India. Check out the historical homes of the various regions of Tamil Nadu. Shop for traditional toys and folk paintings in the Crafts Bazaar. Dakshina Chitra is 29 km from Mamallapuram, via ECR Road.
Lighthouse Heritage Museum:
Now, these are two interesting places you ought to visit! The Lighthouse Heritage Museum with heritage lamps and clocks used in the ancient Lighthouse and a Sound and Light Show. Next in line is the Maritime Heritage Museum with perfectly made models of the ancient ships that docked at Mamallapuram and the routes they travelled. Check out the Submarine Simulator.
About 16 km from Mamallapuram is Thirukazhukundram, an ancient Shiva Temple also known as the Eagle Temple, for the two eagles that turned up regularly to the hillock to eat the food offered by the priests. According to legends, the hillock (giri) was created by Shiva to sustain the Vedas and hence the deity came to be called Vedagirishwarar.
Looking for a great fun filled day, with the wind in your face? Clamber aboard a Quad Bike and zip off on an adventurous smooth ride along the sea coast or a bouncy ride through the woods.
There are a good number of restaurants in Mamallapuram. We have listed out a few of them for you. Try tropical flavoured ice creams at Gelato Ice Cream Parlour, breads and momos at Namaste Café at Othavadai Street. You’d find a number of restaurants in Othavadai Street and Othavadai Cross Street. Go to Gecko Café, Moonrakers or Le Yogi for seafood and beer, Freshly and Hot Café for a hot cuppa, German Bakery for English Breakfast and momos, Dhanalakshmi Restaurant or Mamalla Bhavan for South Indian Chettinad food.
Check out Temple Surfboards for some amazing surfboards. There are a number of shops in the streets around the Light House area called Little Art Gallery where you could buy sea shell artefacts, sculptures, idols etc. Visit galleries like Southern Arts and Crafts, Sky Blue Handicrafts and Queen Art Emporium for some beautiful curios, paintings and sculptures, walnut wood handicrafts and stone idols of Gods and Goddesses. Visit Stone Sculptures where you can see the artisans at work , buy their products and try your hand at carving, too! Roadside shops and those in the interior streets sell stuff at reasonable prices.