If you are making a trip to South India, you must include a one day trip to Mahabalipuram as its easy on the pockets, on the eyes, and definitely on your time. You can check out the major attractions in half a day. We started the tour at 10:30 am and were done by 1:30 pm. The town is 60 kms from Chennai and boasts of a group of beautiful monuments carved out of rocks. This group has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is collectivly known as the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.
We took a guide mostly because my aunt felt sorry for the poor young man but it turned out to be a very well spent 300 rupees because without him, we would have missed out on many significant structures, and the significance of many of the structures. He started with the very famous Krishna's Butter Ball, and went on to show us nine other spots in that site itself, some of them which I would have totally overlooked if I was not guided. This includes the old lighthouse, a temple hidden behind the rocks, a couple of monolithic stones signifying the old techniques of cutting, and a rock from where you can have a panoramic view of the town, with the Shore Temple and the Bay of Bengal in the distance.
We looked at, and listened to the history, and the myths about the Varaha temple, the Descent of the Ganges and the Pancha Pandava Temple. Needless to say, the architecture, the monolithic motifs and the legends behind these structures blew us away. We proceeded to see the Pancha Rathas and then the Shore Temple. And every time we went to a new place, we were amazed by the beauty, not to mention the way the archeological society has preserved the place.