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Places To See in Mahabalipuram: A Complete Guide

10 mins. read

Mahabalipuram is a small and historic town in Tamil Nadu that attracts many tourists and pilgrims. It sits between the Bay of Bengal ocean and a large salt lake. The town has very old, famous temples and monuments with beautiful stone carvings. The best places to see in Mahabalipuram tell stories that are thousands of years old about the Tamilnadu food, art, architecture, and culture of the region. If you are vacationing in Tamil Nadu, you should definitely go to Mahabalipuram. You will be amazed by the incredible ancient buildings and stunning sunsets over the ocean. Every moment you spend in this charming town admiring its heritage will create lasting memories. Let’s explore 7 top places to visit in Mahabalipuram in this blog.

Top 7 Places to See in Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is a city with many famous temples and old buildings for tourists to visit. These places have beautiful and iconic stone carvings and structures built long ago. You should add Mahabalipuram's most interesting and significant tourist attractions to your Tamil Nadu tourism packages when vacationing in the region. Seeing these 7 iconic places will create special memories:

  • Five Rathas
  • Mahabalipuram Beach
  • Tiger Caves
  • Alamparai Fort
  • Crocodile Bank
  • India Seashell Museum
  • Mamallapuram Lighthouse

Five Rathas

The Five Rathas in Mahabalipuram are ancient stone chariot temples that you must see when visiting. They are linked to the famous Indian epic story of the Mahabharata and its five Pandava brothers. Seeing these huge chariot structures carved from single rocks is one of the best things to do in Mahabalipuram. If you want to truly experience incredible Dravidian architecture from long ago, take a tour around the Five Rathas. The massive carved elephant statues will give you a sense of what it was like in that historic era. For anyone interested in beautiful old architecture, this is a must-visit place. You can explore the Five Rathas daily from 6 am to 6 pm. Walking through this archaeological wonder lets you step back in time over a thousand years. The Five Rathas offer a unique glimpse into India's rich cultural past through their epic sculptural works. Don't miss this incredible display of ancient architecture on your trip to Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram Beach

The local people call it Mamallapuram, but it's officially known as Mahabalipuram Beach. This famous beach is located right on the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu. It's considered one of the best tourist places to visit in Mahabalipuram. What makes Mahabalipuram Beach so special are the amazing rock-cut sculptures and carvings found along the shore. There are huge carved rathas (chariot structures), massive cave temples, and intricate sculptural art that will take your breath away. The incredible ancient architecture and craftsmanship attract countless pilgrims, history fans, and visitors every month who are in awe of these unique sights. But Mahabalipuram Beach isn't just about the sculptures. It's also a wonderful place to relax and spend quality time with family or friends. The best part is this beach is open 24/7 and has no entry fee so you can visit and explore the monuments and shoreline whenever you like during your stay.

Tiger Caves

The Tiger Caves are a popular attraction in Mahabalipuram because of their unique architecture and historical importance. The cave shrine has a structure that looks like a mandap (pillared hallway). The main deity worshipped inside the Tiger Caves is the powerful goddess Durga. These caves are located around 4 km away from the centre of Mahabalipuram city. The most striking feature of the Tiger Caves is the 11 huge carved tiger heads on the cave walls. These very realistic and detailed carvings of tiger faces give the caves their name. Tourists love visiting to see the incredible artistry and craftsmanship of these ancient tiger sculptures. The carvings show the great skill of the sculptors from long ago who created them. Exploring the Tiger Caves allows you to experience an important historical and cultural site. Seeing the awesome architecture and legendary sculptures makes you feel connected to that ancient period. The caves are open from 6 am to 6 pm every day which gives you plenty of time to wander through and admire the caves and carvings at your own pace. Don't miss this iconic Mahabalipuram destination on your visit.

Alamparai Fort

Most visitors to Mahabalipuram are unaware of the Alamparai Fort, as it is not as famous as the other major sites. However, this old abandoned fort is an important historical place worth seeing. The Alamparai Fort used to be a trading post long ago. Though rundown now, its striking architecture and impressive size are still quite imposing. Climbing to the top provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Walking through the crumbling fort feels like going back in time. Nature has been reclaiming the fort over the centuries. Shrubs, vines, bushes and trees have grown throughout, blending the ancient man-made structures with the natural environment beautifully. Despite being in a state of ruin, the Alamparai Fort has a charming, captivating atmosphere. You can vividly imagine the lively trading activities that once took place here centuries prior as you explore the remains.

The fort highlights how even mighty human constructions eventually give way to the power of nature as plant life conquers and becomes integrated with the ageing architecture. Though overlooked, this forgotten fort is a remarkable hidden gem allowing you to experience living history amidst vibrant greenery. Open from 8 am-6 pm with no entry fee, it makes for an atmospheric detour during your Mahabalipuram visit.

Crocodile Bank

If you want to see crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles up close, visit the exciting Crocodile Bank near Mahabalipuram. This conservation centre is located about 14 km from the main town area. The Crocodile Bank was started in 1976 by herpetologist (reptile expert) Romulus Whitaker. Here you can spot different kinds of Indian and African crocodiles, alligators, and snakes. These fierce creatures live in large open-air pools designed to mimic their natural habitats in the wild. Right next door is a snake farm with a laboratory that makes anti-venom to treat snake bites. This facility provides jobs and income for local snake catcher tribes. Visiting the Crocodile Bank is a thrilling experience to see these powerful reptiles in a safe environment. You'll learn about the important conservation work being done here. It's also an educational family-friendly attraction. The centre is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. In addition to the incredible sculptural wonders of Mahabalipuram, make sure to carve out time for this one-of-a-kind wildlife experience.

India Seashell Museum

The India Seashell Museum is one of the great places to see in Mahabalipuram. It has a large collection of different seashells, conches, and other natural things from the sea. The museum also has a beautiful aquarium with many kinds of sea creatures like fish, starfish, sharks, and more. You will need about 1-2 hours to walk through and see everything in the museum. There are staff members called curators who can take you around and explain all the displays and exhibits in detail if you want. The museum and aquarium are open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Visiting the India Seashell Museum is a fun and educational activity for all ages. You can see many interesting shells, and sea life, and learn about the ocean and its creatures. It makes for a nice addition to a trip to Mahabalipuram to see the temples and beaches.

Mamallapuram Lighthouse

Mamallapuram Lighthouse

One of the must-see places in Mahabalipuram is the historic Mamallapuram Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in the 20th century using natural stone. Though old, it was only opened up for the public to visit and explore in 2011. The best part about this lighthouse is that visitors are allowed to climb up the spiral stone stairs all the way to the top! The climb is worth the effort for the incredible panoramic views you get once reaching the highest point. From the top of the Mahabalipuram lighthouse, you can see stunning views in every direction of the surrounding landscapes and ocean. The vistas are simply breathtaking to take in with your own eyes. Photographers especially will love capturing the beauty from this prime vantage point. Even if you aren't an avid photographer, the experience of climbing the old lighthouse and being rewarded with the sweeping scenery is truly special and memorable. It provides a unique perspective that makes you appreciate the natural splendour of Mahabalipuram. The lighthouse is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm, giving you plenty of time to visit. Don't miss out on this iconic Mahabalipuram attraction!

These amazing places to see in Mahabalipuram guarantee memories that last a lifetime. Seeing the incredible ancient architecture and learning about the fascinating history is a truly wonderful experience to have on your Tamil Nadu vacation. Taking the time to explore these iconic attractions makes for an unforgettable trip to Mahabalipuram you'll cherish for years to come. Explore our range of South India tour packages and book one in advance to enjoy your trip hassle-free!

May 02, 2024


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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