10 Best Things To Do In Mahabalipuram, India

things to do in mahabalipuram india

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is located around 50 km (31 miles) from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It was an important seaport during the reign of the ancient Pallava dynasty, that was based in Kanchipuram. Many of the temples in the town are included in the list of World Heritage Sites and their carvings look wonderful, especially when the sun sets.

The town is not only known for its archaeological wonders but also for its coastal beauty and salty air. You can also enjoy different types of gastronomical delights in the town, during your visit and return with some pretty Tibetan trinkets, as souvenirs. The growing and buzzing surf scene is another major attraction of the town. Many refer to Mahabalipuram as ‘Mahabs’ and you can reach it in less than two hours, after boarding a bus from Chennai. It is a tiny and laid-back town and you can sightsee, either by walking or by hiring a bicycle.

1. Attend the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival

Mamallapuram Dance Festival (6319403928)
Source: Photo by user Arian Zwegers used under CC BY 2.0

This is a famous dance festival that lasts for four weeks and showcases classical dance forms and folk dances, from all over the country. Renowned artists perform on the open-air stage. Apart from classical forms of dance, major art forms get a prominence in this unique festival. The festival is also referred to as the Mamallapuram Dance Festival and is organized by the Department of Tourism, in Tamil Nadu.

The festival is a big attraction for famous dance gurus, troupes, individual dancers and renowned artists. Over the passing years, this festival has gained immense popularity and is regarded as a grand celebration, where famous exponents of Indian classical forms like Kathak, Bharatnatyam, and Kathakali, participate actively.

Mahabalipuram Dance Festival

Address: Mahabalipuram, India.

2. Visit the Trimurti Cave Temple

A post shared by Shoaib Akhtar (@talk2akhtar) on Feb 15, 2017 at 9:07am PST

This cave temple is situated on the northern side of the Mamallapuram Hill compound. It has intricate carvings of elephants, which appear on the rock’s back side. It is a perfect example of the Pallava dynasty’s architecture. Though this monument is quite well-known, it is not visited by all. Krishna’s Butterball, another famous site, is also close by.

The Trimurti Cave Temple pays homage to the three supreme gods of Hinduism who are also known as Trimurtis. These three gods are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. However, it is uncertain, which Pallava king constructed this famous monument. While some historians claim that it was constructed under the patronage of Parameshvaravarman I, there are others who say that either Mamallapuram or Rajasimha built it.

Trimurti Cave Temple

Address: East Raja Street, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104.

3. Enjoy exotic, multinational cuisine at Water's Edge Cafe

Source: Photo by user Michael Stern used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This exotic poolside cafe of the Radisson has a wide range of delectable cuisine to choose from, ranging from grilled tofu to American pancakes, lip smacking Indian vegetarian dishes, pan-Asian dishes and a lavish breakfast buffet you simply can’t afford to miss. Though it is a bit costly, its choice of dishes makes it a popular destination. Moreover, the service is good and quite prompt.

Water's Edge Cafe

Address: Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay, 57 Kovalam Rd, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), India.

4. Welcome to the famous Shore Temple

Shore Temple - panoramio - Gabriele Giuseppini
Source: Photo by user Gabriele Giuseppini used under CC BY 3.0

This temple is a living example of India’s regal heritage. It is situated in Mahabalipuram and is well-connected to all parts of Tamil Nadu. You can reach the temple by hiring a cab or taking the regular buses from any location in Tamil Nadu. Chennai Airport is the nearest airstrip and is just 60 km (37.3 miles) from the town. Shore Temple is one of India’s most photographed monuments and is located on the Bay of Bengal’s shores.

5. Enjoy the best continental food in Le Yogi

If you love continental cuisine, this restaurant is just perfect for you and your loved ones. Try out the delicious pizza, pasta, Tibetan dumplings or momos, crepes and sizzlers, here. You will instantly fall in love with its chilled-out setting, including floor cushions, lamps that hang from its thatched roof and bamboo posts that give the restaurant a romantic and cozy touch.

Le Yogi

Address: New No. 19, Othavadai St, Fisherman Colony, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104.

6. Visit the Lion Throne

Lion throne built by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman

Posted by Joy Bose on Sunday, 31 December 2017

This is a beautiful seat or carved throne that is shaped like a lion. This prominent monument is located on the west side of Raya Gopura, on the Mahabalipuram Hill. The Lion Throne is an English term, which is used to refer to the thrones that the Dalai Lama’s use, in Lhasa.

Lion Throne

Address: Mamallapuram Hill, Mahabalipuram, India.

7. Trip to the Varaha Cave Temple

Source: Photo by user Destination8infinity used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Varaha Cave Temple is also referred to as the Afivaraha Cave Temple. It is cut out of the rocks and located in Mahabalipuram, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram District. The temple belongs to a hilltop village that is around 4 km (2.5 miles) to the north of the Shore Temple and the Pancha Rathas. It is a classic specimen of rock-cut architecture and dates back to late 7th century.

This temple has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and belongs to Mahabalipuram’s Group of Monuments. Among the sculptures that are visible in this cave temple, the most notable one is that of Lord Vishnu. Here, he is in the incarnation of a boar, or Varaha, lifting the earth from the sea. You will also find several beautifully carved mythical figures, here.

Varaha Cave Temple

Address: Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. 603104.

8. Drop into the Radisson's gourmet restaurant, the Wharf

Dinner at - The Wharf (Temple Bay- Mahabalipuram ) Feasted on well-made Rio's Tenderloin Steak wit Parmesan cheese & red wine sauce !! Leagan~~~~~~~~ wait for it ~~~~~ Dary !!!!! :-)

Posted by Vasanth Nandakumar on Sunday, 20 November 2011

This restaurant has taken inspiration from the five elements of nature - earth, water, air, fire, and space. The Wharf provides an exotic experience for your senses. So, go ahead and indulge in some delectable fresh seafood from the Coromondal coast and crisp seasonal dishes, along with grill-fired steaks. As you sip on some of the finest wines and have your dinner, enjoy the scenic views of the famous Bay of Bengal, that serves as a delightful backdrop.

The Wharf - Radisson BLU Templebay

Address: 57, Covelong Road, Mahabalipuram, Chennai.

9. Krishna's Butterball should be on your to-do list

Source: Photo by user Destination8infinity used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Krishna’s Butterball is a huge boulder that rests on a small incline and is around 6 meters (19.7 feet) high and has an approximate width of 5 meters (16.4 feet). It weighs about 250 tons. In 1908, the city’s then governor, Arthur Havelock, tried to use seven elephants to shift this boulder from its existing position, as there were safety concerns, but they could not move it, despite all possible efforts.

Krishna's Butterball

Address: E Raja St., Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104.

10. Enjoy a mesmerizing panorama at the Lighthouse

Light house2
Source: Photo by user SM14 used under CC BY 3.0

The lighthouse in Mahabalipuram was recently reopened in 2011, after being closed since 2001, due to the perceived threat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. India. A circular masonry tower, built out of natural stone, it began construction in 1887 and was fully completed in 1904.

A tower next to this lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in India and so has historical importance. The old tower was constructed by the Pallava King Mahendra Pallava, in around 640 AD. The lighthouse that was constructed in the Pallava era is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and is a protected monument.


Address: Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104.

Last but not least

The town enjoys excellent connectivity as Tamil Nadu’s capital city, Chennai, is not far off. Chennai is connected with various major destinations, within the country, as well as abroad. Mahabalipuram is just 39 km (24.2 miles) from Chengalpattu, the nearest railway station. So, plan a vacation to Mahabalipuram and enjoy a fulfilling historical experience.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Pala Sen is an avid follower of travel and health updates, current affairs and entertainment news from all across the world and writing is a passion for her. She had been previously associated...Read more

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