07 October 2011

A Visit to Mahabalipuram

I had been away for a week on a trip to Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu). This post (and presumably, the others that will follow in the month of October) is on my experiences during the vacation.

Our resort was on ECR Road, Vadanemmeli Village, Chengalpat Thaluk in Kancheepuram District. This is 12 km from Mahabalipuram. And 40 kms from Chennai. And 0.5 Km from Crocodile Bank. So obviously our first stop was the Crocodile Bank.
The Crocodile Bank is a crocodile research & breeding centre.
Can you spot the two baby crocodiles in the tank below?
You can see many species of African & Indian alligators & crocodiles bred in custody here.
The next day morning we set off to Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram as named after the king Mamalla.

We took the share van. Rs 10 each for a one way ride.
As soon as we got down from the van, and started looking around as to where to start from, taxi guys came offering rides. Rs 350/- auto guy said for seeing 7 things in the town. We ignored & walked on. And on. Towards the temple. The street leading to the temple reminds you of the one in Belur (Karnataka).

As usual, Kashmiri shops with their beaded necklaces on display from their glass doors were there here too. A taxi guy told us to hire a bike for Rs 150-200/- & see the places & directed us where you’d find one. We walked back. All the way back! We asked a small shop guy. He was tinkering on one of his mopeds, didn’t look up & said gruffly, "Only moped. Rs 250”. What!? I immediately thought of Goa! Oh Goa! Go learn a lesson or two from the Goans, i muttered under my breath to the rude fella.

The guy in the shop opposite, with his leg one atop another, said, "No bike, only moped. Rs 350". "Where can we find another shop?" No answer. Just an expression of “Am I sitting here to help you?” We moved to a tourist agency. He had cars/bikes everything. Rs 500 for car for 2 hours, will show 7 things. By then the auto guy started circling us again. And since we'd realized that we couldn’t possibly see around the town on our two feet plus with our 5 year old daughter with us, we bargained & from Rs 350 he came down to Rs 250.

The first stop was the Five Rathas. They are full-size models of different styles of temples known to Dravidian builders of the 7th century A.D. They are unfinished & not used for worship.
Each wall is cut from a SINGLE ROCK & contain images from Hindu scriptures, alongside clowns & dancers. AMAZING!
Then he showed us Arjuna's Penance. It is said to the world's largest bas-relief. The carved scene depicts Arjuna, doing penance to Lord Shiva. Around him are various images, including snakes coiled in battle, jesters with drums, & elephants in procession.
This is my fav snap - the monkeys picking on each other
The Krishna’s Butter Ball - gravity defying. It has stood like this for ages now.
Next he showed us the beautiful Shore Temple.
The Five Rathas, the Shore Temple, & Arjuna's Penance are all works of the Pallava dynasty.
The idol of the sleeping Vishnu inside the Shore Temple. It is so breezy and cool inside here.

The stone temple has survived the sea's fury for 12 centuries, outlasting other temples along the shore. So this beach site is believed to be a lucky one.
Next was the Lighthouse & the Cave Temple

Mahabalipuram is famous for monuments built during the Pallava Dynasty & the temples are in the form of rock cut caves.
On the way back from the Lighthouse,
we found a group of goats. I tiptoed towards one, thinking it might be startled & run away.It didn't! So i held on to it :) Sathya felt hungry just looking at it! Such tender meat!
Just 2 hours drive from Chennai, Mamallapuram, on the Bay of Bengal, stands apart from the city's jostle & is quite unhurried. Did we like it? Oh yes! Worth a visit? Definitely.


  1. Mahabs is the favorite weekend spot for many here in chennai.
    Sheesh! Only if I had known you were here. I live quite close to mahabalipuram.

  2. Yay! I've been to all these places :-)

  3. Looks like you had gala time...Lovely picture and thanks for sharing!

  4. @Nona: thank u

    @Vijay: sheeesh!! i could have done with at least one familiar face out there :)

    @Seema: thanks

    @Anne: you went so far away to all these places & not to MGR Memorial / Anna Samadhi which is like in your neighborhood !!!

  5. @Saru: ya Saru we had a good time - in Mahabalipuram.
    Chennai was a different story though :)

  6. awww u got me nostalgic gal...Mahabs..i have been there like umpteen number of times...totally enjoyed the fish dishes cooked there at the beach...hmmmm....the pix are lovely :) :)

  7. @Sunita: really? umpteen #? thats surprising! you lived up north right when you were in India?
    yeah the fish is yuummmmm

  8. ney.. I was in Chennai for 4 years...and most of the weekends were in mahabs or pondy :)

  9. Sujatha Sathya, looks like you had a great time there.
    Nice snaps.
    Mahabalipuram was one of our hangout while I was in chennai. What I liked the most was the shell. The one on which they will carve anything you want. I think the guy will remember me for all those bizarre designs and spellings I made him do. ;-)

  10. @Sujatha: Haha! Yeah I knw! From your FB photos, I've also not been to Gandhi Mandapam and Kalakshetra Colony! I have crossed everything hundreds of times and I've always thought that I need to check them out - but somehow haven't yet!
    It's like foreigners all praising the Taj Mahal and yet many Indians would not have visited it - classic case of backyard-oversight!
    I will be going to Chennai this month end-will try my best to see the other places :-)

  11. @Sunita: ok,now that makes sense :)

    @Leo: yeah we did. nice place.
    hahah poor shell guy got trapped in your designs :)))

    @Anne: backyard oversight - how true. m sure there are many little corners of Blore i haven't been to. that reminds me i havent been to The Leela yet & u have :) and no Taj Mahal is still a dream

  12. obviously, u must have had a hard time in Chennai under the scorching sun but thanx to Mahabhalipuram and its spectaculat sculptures, which helped u to cope up with the harsh sunshine. Hope, you will visit this historical wonderland once again in ur life.
    Nice travelogue and keeping sharing.
    From: sriramnivas.wordpress.com

  13. nice trip. i must visit the place.thanks for sharing

  14. This place - Mahabalipuram looks beautiful. No doubt, you enjoyed yourself out there, wonderful pics.

  15. Good sharing with nice pictures. Have u visited "The Tiger caves" just a few miles ahead of Mahabalipuram which is also worth seeing.

  16. You must have had a nice time. thanx for sharing the pics.

  17. Wow! Wonderful pics!
    And good write-up too.. :)
    I am wondering that you have not got hit down by sun? I was charred when I visited that place. :D

  18. Very picturesque :) must have been one memorable visit for sure :))the shore temple is truly awesome

  19. Ah. I usually stop at the crocodile bank and then take off to have food at various places. Seems like you've had fun.

  20. Thanks for sharing. Reminded me of the time I had visited there several years back. Hey, could you put up bigger pictures? They would certainly enhance your writeup!

  21. Wonderful travelogue and lovely captures! Rock cut cave temples, lighthouse, Krishna's butter ball... awesome!! :)

  22. wow..you had a wonderful time in tamil nadu..great... yes i think at tourist spots, everybody overcharge, i think there is a need to have a law to facilitate tourists with concession instead of overcharging...
    the places look so amazing... the temples and the stone..oh my...how can this stone defying gravity? the mere thought of standing in front of it made me shiver...

    waiting for more :)

  23. Hope you had nice time visiting the shore temple. reading your blog i found you are from karnataka. I recently heard there are few temple in Karnataka, whose architecture are amazing than the pallavas creations.

    Do check out my blog on mamallapuram


  24. Welcome back :D And finally I can say, I have been here :D Rest of the travel posts on different blogs,I have rarely visited. :D I found the croc bank rather amazing...

    The Blunt Blog

  25. beautiful pics.. and welcome back.. :)

    I would love to visit these places ne day .. the croc looks good ..


  26. @Jaggy: yes Karnataka has some amazing temples.
    sure will check your post. thank you for stopping by

    @Chintan & @Bikram: thank you :)
    yeah the crocs were healthy :)
    they had snakes too there & gave us a live demo of extracting venom. they even tried to make a rustle wiper & a cobra fight with each other

  27. @Israr: correct Israr, if the pricing is right they will get more satisfied customers. but they overcharge & spoil our mood. waise bhi hum tourist hain lekin salary abhi bhi rupaiyye mein hai na. dollars mein thodi na :)

  28. @Richa: thanks Richa for the suggestion. will do so. you've been there too - that's nice

    @Shilpa: thank you Shilpa :)

  29. @India's: yeah a very good visit indeed

    @kofycat: nice name :)
    wish the crocodile bank had a better compound/door/exterior

  30. @Saibaba: oh no yeah we heard about the tiger caves but couldnt visit it :(

    @Neeraj: thank you Neeraj

    @Sahana: u were charred!! hahah.. well i was charred in Chennai :)

  31. @sm & @sethu: thank you :)

    @kranthi: yes you must, nice place :)

    @Aakash: yup. nice trip. thank you

  32. @Team: :))

    @sriram: very well said :)

  33. Hey Nice to know you were in Chennai. You should have extended your stay and attended the blogger meet, I could have got to see you and your cute daughter. Hope you had a nice time here. :)

  34. I went there 2 years back and visited all those places you have mentioned. Lovely pictures! We had gone to Pondicherry then. That was a fun vacation.

  35. I love road trips! Looks like an amazing vacation. Looking forward to more stories and photos. Thanks for sharing :)

  36. Hey, You visited Chennai not even inform us (fellow blogger)

  37. omg.. so many photographs..
    i seldom keep a camera with me. too much trouble to take care of it for me :)
    hats off to you..
    nice description :)

  38. Hey Welcome back.. Missed you arround
    Nice clicks.. I luv this place too.. especially during evenings.. and the croc park.. I remember being their as a kid.. (Educational tour) it was scary.. and never dared to visit again.. didnt ur little ones get scared.. guess they are braver than me.. :)

  39. @Ashwini: wish the chennai blogger meet was pre-poned by a week for me :)
    thank you, my first ever visit to chennai in 34 years!!

    @Rachna: yes, Pondi is fun esp the cycle rides on the ocean side & a beautiful city Pondi

    @Kiran: thank you Kiran it was a memorable trip

    @raj: hahha if i had informed, would i have got free accomodation/food facilites ?? or at least free sight seeing? :))) just kidding

    @jigar: thanks Jigar. it is a 'once only' visit so making the most of it by clicking as many pics as we can :)

    @KP: haaa! yeah i can imagine u going to see the crocs as a kid! did they have the snake park then too? they showed us extracting venom from the cobra.

  40. nice pics and writing sujatha ji...i was there in chennai for 2 years and i must confess that i couldnt visit such a beautiful place as this...

  41. what a great write up- and lovely pics to go along with it!!

  42. @Rahul: thank you
    actually this isn't a travel blog at all. just this one post ;) my first attempt actually with pics & all

    @Crazy: oh thats great - 2 years in chennai :)

    @Anjuli: thank you Anjuli. my first attempt at recounting my travel experience has clicked :)

    @Vipul: thank you

  43. I have planned to go to this place shortly. I am going in my bike - I just love traveling in the ECR with my bike! Though I have been to Mahabalipuram a couple of times before (including one school excursion), I don't remember seeing so many things. But this time, I will plan properly and there will be no hurry. Thanks to your blog, I will refer to this once again just before going.

    Destination Infinity

  44. Interesting narration. A request - can you put the photographs in Large size? That would be much better.

  45. Hi sujatha....

    you know, last month i had been to these spots and you made them live again here...thanks for sharing....:))

  46. Mahabalipuram has alws been close to my heart cos of the number of times I have visited there as a kid... Now it has become famous for the wrong things - thanks to "techie couples" who sneak off there to have sum "fun"!!!

  47. Now I know where to go in the next holidays. My favorite pic is The Krishna’s Butter Ball - gravity defying. The account of searching for cheaper options and then going back to auto was amusing.

  48. amazing place indeed!
    on my must visit list! :)
    thank you for sharing the travel details

  49. @Destination: yes ECR is a lovely road. bike rides on it - wow!i envy u!
    we couldn't get a bike on hire :(
    there are so many lovely sights & places to stop along the entire stretch of this road. i am so J thinking about your bike trip

  50. @aativas: thank you. yes i will make it larger. you are the second person to suggest it. so time i corrected it fast :)

    @Irfan: oh is it? just last month? oh that was the time you were away from blogging space isnt it? ok!!

    @John: that's news to me. hmmm.... i hardly saw any couples though. well...

  51. @Kirti: what to do? for a moped to pay so much!! auto was better option. someone else drives it & some cover from the sun too :)

    @magic: yes its a great place. do visit. the place will come alive with your awesome photography

  52. Wow Sujatha, I'm sure u had fabulous fun!! :) Really nice write up n great pics.. loved the way u shared ur experience with the rick guy n Krishna's Butter Ball is amazing!!!

    Definitely one of the places I wanna go for this holiday season!!! :)

    Nice write up, Sujatha :)

  53. Hi, you are tagged here. Enjoy :)

  54. Awesome Awesome Trip then !!!!

    Love it I will start planning one soon :D

    More info and experience pls!

  55. @Ashwini: oohoo thank you Ashwini :)

    @Ramya: thank you Ramya. mundina episodes ashtu chennagilla. from mahabalupuram we went to chennai :))

  56. Krishna’s Butter Ball .... just amazing

  57. Nice lovely pics.Looks like u had lots of fun..This pics reminded me of ruins of Hampi...

  58. @Vinod: thank you. yes i have heard a lot about Hampi but haven't been able to visit yet

  59. nice pics...Mahabs always my favorite one...

  60. Quickly written as a gist of all the important place.. Liked it..

  61. @Prabha: thank you. mahab is a nice place indeed

    @Hari: thank you

  62. Nice blog! I like it so much. ●๋•wáńńá bểツ ܔܢܜܔFree bIrd(๏̯͡๏) Best Tamil Short Films 2012

  63. Hi Sujatha, Lovely post and wonderful pictures. Do join us on the facebook page 'I Love Mahabalipuram' just set up and perhaps you can help with admin as well! What say?


    Any help in publicizing the page will also be much appreciated by the little town that has grown to be a World Heritage Site.

    Much Love,
    Admin at Mahabalipuram

    1. thank you for your invite. appreciate it

  64. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been
    blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look
    of your site is excellent, let alone the content!

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  66. Hi Sujatha,
    Can you share the details of the resrt, name and price that u stayed in ?

    1. Hi Meera we stayed at Country Club resort as we are members.

  67. Wow nice captures:)wounderful discription...thanks

  68. The blog is nicely written combined with pleasant pictures. Would love to go to South India and explore Mahabalipuram tourism :)

    1. thank you Anjali :)
      It has been many months since i opened my blog. Hence the delay in responding to your comment. Thanks again for reading my post.

  69. wow. You composed this blog really very well. The picture representation looks really very nice. Thank you for sharing.
    Tourist Places in Chennai

  70. Very well written.You have awesomely explained your blog of visiting Mahabalipuram.I loved reading your blog and the Pictures are also awesome. SRS Travels

  71. Mahabalipuram is just a 55 kms ride from Chennai. The UNESCO world heritage is an awesome place to visit with beautiful stone architechture. A must visit place from chennai.

    Chennai to Mahabalipuram Cabs

    1. you are right. thanks for stopping by.

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