A day trip to Mahabalipuram

29th May 2016
Photo of A day trip to Mahabalipuram 1/1 by theboywithabackpack
Day 1

It was the first weekend of my internship at Chennai. Out of all the weekend getaways from Chennai, I decided to start with the temple city of Mahabalipuram ( aka Mamallapuram among locals ).

Mahabalipuram is a town in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, about 58 km south of Chennai. It is a historic town, famous for its group of monuments dating back to the 7th century. These monuments have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I boarded the bus to Mahabalipuram from Koyambedu bus stand in Chennai at 10:30 am. The journey took a total of 90 minutes with splendid views of the Bay of Bengal along the East Coast Road. This road is popular among travelers looking for a road trip as well. After getting down at the bus stand, I made way for Arjuna's penance. Also known as Descent of the Ganges, this is a Bas relief that stretches along a length of 100 feet and is 45 feet high with intricate carvings of humans and animals.

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by theboywithabackpack

Another marvel of nature near the Arjuna's penance is Krishna's Butterball. This is a huge rock of around 16 m in diameter that has balanced itself on a slope for over a 1000 years. No one knows what's keeping its balance. Every effort to roll it down, using elephants or cranes, has failed.

I think we need a Hulk over here

Photo of A day trip to Mahabalipuram by theboywithabackpack

Next, I headed towards a lighthouse, built during the Pallava era that served as a beacon for Mahabalipuram. Two things will make you happy when you reach the top. One is the beautiful view of the whole town. The second will be the cool breeze that will give you respite from the scorching heat.

Then, I had lunch at around 3 pm and made way towards the most famous site in Mahabalipuram, the Shore temple. The temple lies adjacent to the Mahabalipuram beach, about 2 km from the city center.

The whole temple was made, top to bottom from a single chunk of granite in the 8th century.

This fact alone will make you marvel at the site, none to mention the striking golden colour of the temple against the blue skies. Sunset and sunrise are the best times to view the monument. The sanctums placed inside are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The green lawns in the complex were a great place to relax and take a break from the scorching heat.

Photo of A day trip to Mahabalipuram by theboywithabackpack

Another monument in the town is the Panch Rathas, an excellent example of Dravidian architecture. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. So, in the evening at around 5 pm, I boarded the bus back to Chennai.

How to get there: Mahabalipuram is 58 km from Chennai, where the nearest airport is also located. Regular buses and trains ply on the route.  Once you're there, all monuments and temples are at a walking distance, though autos also ply in the city.

Weather: Weather is hot all year round. Though October and February have a bit cooler weather. Keeping yourself hydrated is recommended.

Where to stay: A number of hotels and resorts offer places to stay. Some are even right at the beach.

What to eat: Most restaurants serve both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. Restaurants near the beach can be easily found as well. Do try mango chilli from the local vendors once you're there.

Image source: www.flickriver.com