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Things to do -  general

Mamallapuram, 50km south of Chennai, was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram. A wander round the town’s magnificent, World Heritage–listed temples and carvings inflames the imagination, especially at sunset.In addition to ancient archaeological wonders, salty air and coastal beauty, there’s also the traveller hub of Othavadai and Othavadai Cross Sts, where restaurants serve pasta.

Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, 58 km south of the city of Chennai. It is an ancient historic town and was a bustling seaport during the time of Periplus (1st century CE) and Ptolemy (140 CE), from where ancient Indian traders sailed to countries of South East Asia.

By the 7th century it was a port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas. It has a group of sanctuaries carved out of rock in the 7th and 8th centuries: rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air rock reliefs such as the famous Descent of the Ganges, and the Shore Temple, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.It has an average elevation of 12 metres (39 feet). The modern town of Mahabalipuram was established by the British Raj in 1827.


Mahabalipuram has a tropical climate. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Aw. The average annual temperature is 28.4 °C. The temperatures are highest on average in May, at around 32.6 °C. In January, the average temperature is 24.3 °C, the lowest of the year. The average temperatures vary during the year by 8.3 °C. In a year, the average rainfall is 1219 mm. In winter, there is much less rainfall than in summer. The variation in the precipitation between the driest and wettest months is 309 mm.

An 8th-century Tamil text written by Thirumangai Alvar described this place as Sea Mountain ‘where the ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden as they were with wealth, big trunked elephants and gems of nine varieties in heaps’. It is also known by several other names such as Mamallapattana and Mamallapuram. Another name by which Mahabalipuram has been known to mariners, at least since Marco Polo’s time is "Seven Pagodas" alluding to the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram that stood on the shore, of which one, the Shore Temple, survives. The temples of Mahabalipuram, portraying events described in the Mahabharata, were built largely during the reigns of Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman and show the movement from rock-cut architecture to structural building. The city of Mahabalipuram was largely developed by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD.The mandapa or pavilions and the rathas or shrines shaped as temple chariots are hewn from the granite rock face, while the famed Shore Temple, erected half a century later, is built from dressed stone. What makes Mahabalipuram so culturally resonant are the influences it absorbs and disseminates. The Shore Temple includes many reliefs, including one 100 ft. long and 45 ft. high, carved out of granite.

All but one of the rathas from the first phase of Pallava architecture are modeled on the Buddhist viharas or monasteries and chaitya halls with several cells arranged around a courtyard.Art historian Percy Brown, in fact, traces the possible roots of the Pallava Mandapa to the similar rock-cut caves of Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves. Referring to Narasimhavarman's victory in AD 642 over the Chalukyan king Pulakesin II, Brown says the Pallava king may have brought the sculptors and artisans back to Kanchi and Mahabalipuram as 'spoils of war'. The fact that different shrines were dedicated to different deities is evidence of an increased sectarianism at the time of their construction. A rock relief on a sculpted cliff has an image of Shiva and a shrine dedicated to Vishnu, indicating the growing importance of these Sangam period deities and a weakening of the roles of Vedic gods such as Indra and Soma.

According to local guides, the site's name changed during the centuries. The first name was Kațalmalai meaning "The land between the mountain and the sea" in Tamil. The second name was Mämalläpuram meaning "The land of the great wrestler" as the region was ruled by the Pallavan King Narsimhavarman during the 8th century who was known for his strength. The third name was and is still there is Mähäbalipuram meaning "The land of Mahabali". According to legends, he was the grandson of the devoted Prahlada.

state Tamil Nadu,India
Country India
Area 12 m (39 ft)
Languages spoken Tamil,English
Currency Ruppee


Megalithic burial urn, cairn circles and jars with burials dating to the very dawn of the Christian era have been discovered near Mahabalipuram. The Sangam age poem Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai relates the rule of King Thondaiman Ilam Thiraiyar at Kanchipuram of the Tondai Nadu port Nirppeyyaru which scholars identify with the present-day Mahabalipuram. Chinese coins and Roman coins of Theodosius I in the 4th century CE have been found at Mahabalipuram revealing the port as an active hub of global trade in the late classical period. Two Pallava coins bearing legends read as Srihari and Srinidhi have been found at Mahabalipuram. The Pallava kings ruled Mahabalipuram from Kanchipuram; the capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 3rd century to 9th century CE, and used the port to launch trade and diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Top Things In Mahabalipuram

Places to visits

  • Mahabalipuram


    Sunny days, sandy beaches and a rich history almost sum up Mahabalipuram in its entirety.

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    Sunny days, sandy beaches and a rich history almost sum up Mahabalipuram in its entirety. The beach is beautiful, white and clean, and can be enjoyed abundantly by tourists.

  • Five Rathas

    The Five Rathas, also known as Panch Rathas, is a exemplary set of rock temples.

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    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. It is shaped like a hut and is dedicated to the goddess Durga. Next comes Arjuna's Rath. This one has a small portico and carved pillar stones and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are no carvings inside this temple, but many are on the outside. Directly in front of Arjuna's Rath is the Nakula Sahadev Rath. This ratha has some huge elephant sculptures included that are a huge draw for the Five Rathas. It is dedicated to the God of Rain, Lord Indra. The Bhima Rath is huge. It measures 42 ft in length, 24ft in width, and 25ft in height. The pillars there do contain lion carvings even though the ratha as a whole is incomplete. The largest of the Five Rathas is the Dharamraja Yudhistar's Rath. This rath is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a great shive.

  • Shore Temple

    This magnificent masterpiece, Shore Temple, located along the coast of Bay of Bengal captivates every traveller.

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    This granite built pagoda provides a picturesque contrast with usually a clear blue sky and its azure sea making it a must visit attraction. The real name of the temple is still unknown but it got its name due to its close proximity to the shore. However, the fascinating fact is, it’s said to be the only temple of the once existed complex of seven shrines that survived the Tsunami. The temple houses three sanctums, while the two are dedicated to Lord Shiva, the other one is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. These sanctums though a little defaced, still remain one of the best examples of the single rock structures.

  • Arjuna's Penance

    Mahabalipuram is a famous place for its 7th and 8th-century art and architecture, especially the stone carvings.

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    Arjuna's penance is one of the most famous stone carvings there. It is biggest open-air rock relief carved on two massive monolithic rock. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. The monolith is also known by the name of 'The Descent of Ganga'. The Arjuna's Penance is situated at a distance of 58 km from Tamil Nadu where it faces the shores of the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It has over 100 figures of gods and semi-divine creatures, birds, and beasts. The carved edifice is named after the Mahabharata hero, Arjuna where he is shown to be performing an austerity to receive a boon from Shiva to fight the Mahabharata war. Another sculpture shows how King Bhagiratha brought river Ganges down to earth so that the souls of his ancestors could rest in peace.

  • Alamparai Fort

    Alamparai Fort lies in the village of Kadappakkam which is at a distance of 50 km from Mamallapuram on the land which overlooks the sea.

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    It was constructed during the reign of the Mughals and had a 100-meter harbour which stretched into the sea. Salt, Ghee and zari cloth were exported from the harbour. The fort was ruled as well as taken down by both Mughals as well as French in the 17th century. The fort got destroyed due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Alamparai served as a sea port in ancient times. It was also known as Alamparva and Alampuravi. The fort was constructed during the rule of the Mughals extending from 1736 CE to 1740 CE. It was first under the control of the Nawab of Arcot Doste Ali Khan. However, it was later given to the French. After the Carnatic war had taken place, French lost to the British which is how the British began exercising direct control over the fort and then the fort got demolished in 1760. Before the war, the fort was ruled by Nawab Doste Ali Khan in 1750, and for the services provided by the French commander Duplex to Subedar Muzarfarzang, the fort was handed over to them.

  • Tiger's Caves

    Tiger's Caves is near the coastal village of Salurankuppam that is only 5 kilometers to the north of Mahabalipuram.

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    This spectacular mandap contains a shrine that is solely dedicated to the wondrous goddess Durga. There are massive yet impressive figures placed in front of the caves. As with most carvings in India, the carvings and figures tell a story. The stories here have to do with an event that occured with the goddess Durga. The Tiger's Caves are a fantastic picnic spot, so you may want to plan your day s that you are there at lunch time.

  • Sadras

    Sadras is an exquisite beach resort that has taken full advantage of the beautiful landscape.

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    The beaches that surround Mahabalipuram are beset by beautiful, green casuarinas groves. The contrast of the vibrant green with the sparkling white beaches is breathtaking, and a sight that is a delight to everyone who has to will to enjoy it. This beach resort is located 13 kilometers outside of Mahabalipuram. There is an old ruined Dutch Fort and a Dutch cemetery with finely embossed headstones. It is intruging to explore some of the Dutch history in the region as well as that of India itself.

  • Crocodile Bank

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

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    It holds a varied 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 in laboratries. 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.


  • Vegetarian thali

    A Vegetarian thali, and a well-known staple of restaurant scene, the charming and laid-back.

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    Vegetarian thali, traditional Goan cuisine. It serves delicious vegetable vindaloo with rice and spicy Portuguese inspired chouricos, (spiced sausages) or mouth-watering masala prawns. The little balconies lit up with dim lights, slightly rickety tables, coconut-skin lamps, walls covered in old and new graffiti and Goan artworks add to its quirky and off-kilter charm. This restaurant is a great place to sit back, relax and take in Panjim, Goa’s capital city, whilst watching the world go by.

  • Wharf

    Though it looks like a beach shack, the Wharf is actually the Radisson's gourmet multicuisine seaside restaurant, with a strong emphasis on fresh seafood.

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    Though it looks like a beach shack, the Wharf is actually the Radisson's gourmet multicuisine seaside restaurant, with a strong emphasis on fresh seafood.Open since 2007, the restaurant prides itself on serving simple yet delicious Italian food, including its specialty – thin crust pizzas and homemade pastas. However, the seafood and fish dishes do reflect Goan tastes, with plenty of emphasis on prawns, tuna and calamari. Dishes are reasonably priced and the owners make every effort to pair food with locally produced Indian wines.

  • Nariyal Pani

    Nariyal Pani,Its a crops of the Tamil nadu.

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    Nariyal Pani,the offerings and prices aren’t that different from other tourist-oriented restaurants, but there’s a little more love put into the cooking here and it's tastier. Treasures include huge casks previously used to store a locally brewed liquor known as fenny, and a giant whale rib which has been converted into a glass rack.

  • Sweet Pongal

    Some of Mamallapuram's best Continental food. The pasta, pizza, sizzlers, crepes and momos are genuine and tasty service is good.

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    Some of Mamallapuram's best Continental food. The pasta, pizza, sizzlers, crepes and momos (Tibetan dumplings) are genuine and tasty (if small), service is good, and the chilled-out setting, with bamboo posts, floor cushions and lamps dangling from a thatched roof, has a touch of the romantic. Fresh produce is key to producing the house favorites, which make the most of local seafood.

  • Grilled Fish

    Grilled Fish, wallet-friendly South Indian fill-up, swing by this simple, packed-out veg restaurant pumping out morning idlis.

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    Grilled Fish, wallet-friendly South Indian fill-up, swing by this simple, packed-out veg restaurant pumping out morning idlis, vadas and dosas,filter coffee and banana-leaf lunchtime thalis. It's right beside the bus stand.



Things to do -  general

Mahabalipuram is a diverse and exciting city with some of the best sights and attractions in the world.

The architecture, the serenity, the alluring atmosphere and the impressive setting are all reasons as to why one would want to visit this wonderful town. Beautiful white sandy beaches are plentiful, as are the Casuarinas trees that are found in abundance here. The Crocodile Bank houses some exquisite species of crocodiles and alligators which is fun for children. The Five Rathas provides a tranquil atmosphere and is a highly knowledgeable place to be. Kovalam and Sadras are fishing villages which have turned into exotic beach resorts and a must visit when in Mahabalipuram.


Things to do - Sports and nature

Mahabalipuram is one of the greenest capitals in the world, with plenty of green and open spaces. There are more than 3000 open spaces.

There are many places around mahabalipuram to be visited. They are cholamandal artist’s village, Dakshina Chitra, Muthukadu, Crocodile and Snake Bark, Chengalpattu, Kanchipuram, Various Temples, Kovalam, Mudaliarkuppam, Thirukkalukundram, Tirupporur, Vandalur and Vedanthangal.


Things to do - Nightlife

Looking for nightclubs in Mahabalipuram? Take a look at our guide to London clubs. Browse for club ideas, regular club nights and one-off events.

Mahabalipuram is brimming with interesting and flattering restaurants and cafes and a variety of cuisines. Find here, the colors and spice of street food, an elaborate, traditional and authentic thali as well as an array of western delicacies. While here, try Grilled Fish, Vegetarian thali, Prawns, Lobsters, Crabs and more. You might also try a typical South Indian platter which consists of Idli, Dosa, Appam, Vada, Upma Sambhar, Sweet Pongal, Kesari, Payassam and much more.