By car: The East Coast Road or the ECR (also the State Highway 49) connects numerous major cities of Tamil Nadu to the beautiful heritage town of Mahabalipuram, which is directly
accessible only by road. It is located 60 km from Chennai, a drive of 1-2 hours along the picturesque ECR overlooking the ferocious Bay of Bengal waters. The town is also accessible
from Pondicherry in couple of hours via the same road from the opposite south direction. The NH48 links Karnataka's capital city Bangalore (350 km) to Mahabalipuram, through major towns
such as Vellore and Kanchipuram.
By bus: State and private buses operate from Chennai to Mahabalipuram on a daily basis and it is the most common and pocket friendly mode of transport for anyone looking to visit.
By train: The nearest functional railway station is in Chengalpattu, 30 km from the famous beach temple town. You can arrive here at the Chengalpattu railway station in 1 hour by train from Chennai and then continue towards Mahabalipuram via bus or taxi.
By air: Chennai International Airport is the nearest major airport, 54 km away. You can take a transit owing to different buses that you need to enquire about before boarding or you can hire a taxi which is a not-so-pocket-friendly option.
How do I get around in Mahabalipuram?
This jewel of a town has plenty to offer for its visitors, you can get around exploring the relatively small historical town (as the star attractions are close to one another) either by foot or by rickshaw. A more viable and exciting option would be to hire a bicycle or motorbike as they are quite affordable and worthwhile.
What is the best time to visit?
The UNESCO World Heritage sites here tend to attract local and international tourists all year round. Mahabalipuram is most enjoyable during winter months between October and February, this is the perfect time to go sightseeing and explore the rich history behind the town. The weather during these months is comparatively pleasant and calm as compared to the scorching summer months (March-June) and heavy monsoon months (June-September).
What to see/do?
The beach haven of the Pallavas during the 7th-9th Century A.D., this scenic town has much more to offer than meets the eye. The temple monument complex here is known for its
architectural magnificence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with intricate stone carvings and majestic beachside temples that take your breath away. The captivating aura of this ancient temple town still resonates to this day.
From the giant standstill boulder that seems to defy all laws of physics - Krishna's butterball, to the world's largest open air Bas relief - Arjuna's Penance, Mahabalipuram is a town with a fascinating glimpse into history. The monolithic rock cut temples called Panch Rathas, 8 beautifully carved cave temples and the splendid contrast of white colour of Thirukadalmallai temple are a sight to behold and are definitely worth a visit.
The Crocodile Farm present just 15 km away on the way to Chennai is a great place to visit as it nests several species of crocodiles, snakes and turtles. It is a fantastic location for a day outing with family or friends. And obviously, the roaring of the Bay of Bengal is best experienced from the scenic Mahabalipuram beach. You can stroll here for as long as you like and also take surfing classes organised by experienced local instructors. Even better, you can learn stone carving here by traditional sculptors who have been following their cultural lineage for hundreds of years!
What to eat/drink?
As a coastal town, seafood delicacies offered in almost every other restaurant here are a must try because of its tangy flavoursome freshness. Also, food stalls swarm the promenades and city center during the days, so there are plenty of options for a hungry traveller. Mahabalipuram is also famous for its fresh coconuts which can be easily found without much struggle. If coconuts aren't enough to quench your thirst, then buy yourself some nice beer (served at most restaurants) and treat yourself to views of the beach.