What to do and see in Mahabalipuram, India: The Best Places and Tips

December 13, 2017 Almeta Stockton

Just 45 minutes out of the city, the East Coast Road first stops at the historic town of Mahabalipuram. The 7th century erstwhile port city is famous for its rock-cut shore temples. A lone lighthouse on a hill watches over a group of temples below. Mahabalipuram also has some great cafes that serve good sea food. A backpacker’s delight, one can find cheap accommodations and plenty of activities.
Restaurants in Mahabalipuram

1. Descent Of The Ganges

Mahabalipuram, India +91 81222 33700
Excellent
72%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
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0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 166 reviews

Descent Of The Ganges

Reviewed By Aryan2007 - MUMBAI

The Descent of Ganges is a part of the overall massive sculpture showing Arjuna's penance as well. The Ganges story is that the sage Bhagiratha performs austerities in order to bring the Ganges down to earth. Shiva had to consent to break her fall in his hair, because otherwise its force would be too great for the earth to contain.
Beautiful and mega sculpture puts one in awe of the same !!!1

2. Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram, India +91 78320 34083
Excellent
64%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Many interesting rock-cut temples and giant open-air reliefs from the 7th and 8th centuries.

Reviewed By Tavelforfun - New Delhi, India

If you are in Chennai and have a day time, please do visit Mahabalipuram. The monuments are mostly walk-able except for the Rathas and Shore Temple. The art work and rock carvings speak a lot about the technology used. Absence of description is an issue. You mat take a guide though. For all major monuments there is a single Ticket.
Try to visit early in the day or late in afternoon.

3. Arjuna's Penance

West Raja Street | Near Ganesha Ratha, Mahabalipuram 603104, India +91 81222 33700
Excellent
63%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 569 reviews

Arjuna's Penance

This bas-relief with life-size images from a mythical story adorns a huge rock.

Reviewed By 359Pat - Sutton-in-Craven, United Kingdom

This shows some fantastic carving of 2 huge boulders. There used to be water running down the cleft between the rocks but this has dried up. The carving can be seen from the roadside but is part of a large complex of rock temples covering the boulder strewn hillside. Quite remarkable.

4. Pancha Rathas

Kancheepuram District, Mahabalipuram, India 914427442226
Excellent
59%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 691 reviews

Pancha Rathas

Reviewed By Tavelforfun - New Delhi, India

These are the main attraction of Mahabalipuram. It may take about one to two hours to cover them. These are structures carved in single piece of rock. Decorated with carvings and sculptures these rathas are treat to eyes and speak volumes about prevalent technology of the era.
History of these ca be easily downloaded from internet.
A must visit.

5. Sea Shore Temple

Mahabalipuram, India +91 90433 25105
Excellent
53%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Sea Shore Temple

Reviewed By Ravindra V - Hyderabad, India

It's a temple located at the sea shore. It's very ancient. On holidays, there could be huge line. So try to visit on a weekday. There are many rock formations (many destroyed now). The architecture of the temple is great. There is a nice beach as well to relax. To summarize, it's one of it's kind temple.

6. India Seashell Museum

Kalpakkam Road, Mahabalipuram 603104, India +91 98944 95676
Excellent
52%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 178 reviews

India Seashell Museum

Reviewed By JumboMumbai - Mumbai

A lifetime of collecting shells has led to this museum Amazing collection in four sections Also within same compound is fish museum which is done nicely with lights and paintings Must visit both though entry charges are quite high also must have a fish pedicure

7. Krishna's Butter Ball

Near the Ganesh Ratha | Near the Ganesh Ratha, Mahabalipuram 603104, India +91 81222 33700
Excellent
48%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 673 reviews

Krishna's Butter Ball

Reviewed By Sourishbj - Contai, India

It's an attraction for sure in Mahabalipuram, however one should not plan to visit this site during hot summer time or mid of the day, as the place itself surrounded by rocks and the visitors need to walk a lot to explore the site. It is well maintained and good attraction for tourists to take a selfie or picture.

8. Varaha Cave Temple

Kancheepuram District, Mahabalipuram, India +91 81222 33700
Excellent
48%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 118 reviews

Varaha Cave Temple

Reviewed By A TripAdvisor Member

I went to Varaha Cave Temple. The most prominent sculpture in the cave is that of Lord Vishnu in the incarnated form of a Varaha or boar lifting Bhudevi, the mother earth goddess from the sea. Also carved are many mythical figures. It is great place to go.

9. Krishna Mandapam

Mahabalipuram, India +91 81222 33900
Excellent
42%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
0%
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 109 reviews

Krishna Mandapam

Reviewed By Aryan2007 - MUMBAI

The Krishna mandapam cave is part of the group of monuments at Mahabalipuram under UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on a hillock next to the open rock relief of Descent of the Ganges and Arjuna's Penance.
It is constituted by an originally open-air bas-relief dedicated to Lord Krishna, dating to the mid 7th century, which was later enclosed within a mandapa in the 16th century during the Vijayanagara Empire. Its over a 1000 years old piece of art. The carvings inside are sculpted panels that depict the myth of Krishna lifting the Govardhana Hill to protect the cowherds and gopis or milk maids from heavy rains and floods. The myth related to this depiction is linked to Indra. Lord Indra was annoyed with the people of the village known as Mathura as they had discontinued celebration of a festival in his honour. He created a huge storm with heavy rainshowers, threatening the life of the villagers. Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhana Hill creating an umbrella of protection and saving the village, its people, and the cowherds. In this relief, Krishna is flanked by three females to his right; one of them is inferred as Radha, his childhood lover, as she is shown wearing a kirita makuta crown, a breast band, and many ornaments. On his right stand two figures, one male and one female. In addition, there are several other images in the panel of animals and village folk.
In another relief, Krishna is shown in a joyous mood with his gopis, a reflection which shows his double role as a divine being. Other reliefs carved on the walls of the cave depict an elderly person carrying a child on his shoulders, a village scene of cowherds milking a cow with the cow licking the calf. There are gopis with water pots on their heads amidst a cowherd playing a flute, a woodcutter walking with an axe and a lady carrying a milk pot and a rolled mat or bundle of grass and a child hugging her mother. Krishna's fresco also shows him playing a flute in the fields. The panel also shows a standing bull, which is perfectly carved by the Pallava artists. In particular, the carvings in the Krishna cave are reported to be very realistic reinterpretations of Hindu mythological themes.
Overall a lovely lovely and must visit place.

10. Mahishasuramardini Cave

Mahabalipuram, India +91 90433 25105
Excellent
42%
Good
50%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 71 reviews

Mahishasuramardini Cave

Reviewed By Dilip S - Vadodara, India

Four polygonal with bulbous cushion capital and square abacus pillars supported by squatting lions and two pilasters constitute the façade of this monument . The cornice of the mandap and of the entrance was decorated with friezes of geese .
One large panel representing Sheshashayi Vishnu adorned one end of the large hall whereas the other end boasted another large panel of. It was obvious from the Somaskand on the back wall of the central cell that the cell was intended to house the Shiv linga .
Sheshashayi Vishnu was in yoganidra and the peacefulness on His face was high lightened by fury of Madhu and Kaitabha brandishing their weapons . The ayudhapurushas including youthful Sudarshan ( discus ) , Nandak ( sword ) , charming Kaumodaki ( mace ) and the dwarfish Panchajanya ( conch ) shown first taking the permission of Him and then attacking the demons .
Eight armed Mahishmardini equipped with all her weapons was depicted as riding on a lion . She stretched the string of her bow up to her ear and was in the war like alidha mudra . Hosts of ganas and amazon yoginis attended Her .
Mahishasur was authentically illustrated and the battle scene was fully animated . The enthusiasm of the ganas and the defeated attitude of the asuras were aesthetically contrasted .

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