Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is an ancient town in the Kancheepuram districy of Tamil nadu, situated at 60 Km south from the city of Chennai. Though it is no longer a port, Mamallapuram has retained its fame in stone, thanks to the great contribution of Pallava artisans in the 7th - 9th century. It is an exemplary work of Dravidian art and architecture and a jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu. In a land that is liberally strewn with some of the best in temple art, Mamallapuram holds its own, and stands as a silent yet eloquent witness to the glory of its creators.Unfortunately most of the work was left incomplete, and time and nature have also eroded the remains of this once great port. Mamallapuram itself was getting run down over the last decade with very little effort or interest at keeping the monuments preserved. Fortunately, this has changed in the last few years with the Shore Temple being included in the UNESCO heritage project.

Travel Tips

Stone sculptors made by local artisans are great souvenirs for travellers however buying them from small street shops might save money rather than buying from big souvenir shops on the main road. There are many small eateries along the road and serves filling amount at very cheap prices.  The coconut water is a must try since Mamallapuram is famous for coconuts.

When to visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
sprinkles Pleasant
  • 29.8° Max
  • 20.7° Min
  • 20.8 mm
  • Carry Light Woollen
Things to do

Mamallapuram is a great place of learning Dravidian art and offers many attractions for visitors and tourists. An entrance fee of 10 INR for Indian citizens and 250 INR for foreigners is taken for the tour of the Shore temples and the Fiverathas.

The Shore temple dates back to 700 AD and has been around for more than 1400 years. The building has been reconstructed after a lot of its works were destroyed by a cyclone. Though eroded by natural elements, the carvings still possess some aura of its once resplendentpast. The area around the temple is now a landscaped park.

Five rathas or "Five chariots" was built in the 7th century. It holds five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. Each of these is craved from a single stone and are complemented by large stone animals.

Thirukadalmallai is a temple built by Pallava King and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple is said to have been built in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean.

The Sculpture Museum contains more than 3000 sculptures in wood, metal, stone and even cement. The entry fee to the museum is 2 INR.

Arjuna's Penance, also known as the Descent of the Ganges is a giant relief carving considered a masterpiece even today and depicts scenes from Hindu mythology.


Apart from these, one can take half day bike trips around the countryside to enjoy the ancient town.A restaurant called Surf offers boat rides, fishing trips, trekking to a nearby hill or turtle walk. Since it is the only place to offer these activities the prices are slightly higher than normal.This ancient town also offers numerous massage, yoga, reiki and ayurvediccentres.

Getting Around

Though walking is the preferred mode of getting around the small town, however bike rental services are also available.

Places to Stay

Since Mamallapuram is a small town, there are hardly any luxury hotels. However the place offers plenty of clean and budget friendly hotels.

How to Reach

  • The nearest airport is Chennai. The 108B bus runs directly to and from Chennai airport to Mamallapuram.
  • From Chennai its a two hours bus ride to Mamallapuram.Buses arrive in the centre of the town from either Koyembedu (CMBT) or Tiruvanmiyur (in Chennai) and Kanchipuram. There are direct buses from Pondicherry as well to reach the town. Taxis are also available for these trips however might turn out to be costlier than necessary.

Surrounding Attractions

The Crocodile bank at Vadanemmeli, 15 Km towards Chennai from the town is a reserve for reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes and turtles. The reptiles can be fed for a minimal fee. Entree fee is 35 INR for Adult and 20 INR for camera.

The Eagle temple is a great place to see the town from a height. Its a short bus ride from Mamallapuram town centre.