On my last year’s visit to Pondicherry, my sister took me for a weekend trip to Mamallapuram also popularly known as Mahabalipuram. It was Sunday and we decided to pay a short visit to this place which is famous for its ancient architecture which was ruled by the Pallava Dynasty during the 7th and 8th century.

Mamallapuram was known as Mahabalipuram earlier but later on, it was changed by King Pallava Narasimha Barman who was conferred with the title of Mamalla, which means the great wrestler. After the decline of the Gupta Dynasty the Pallava dynasty came to power which ruled from 3rd to around 9th century. It was during that period that Mahabalipuram became the seat of great architecture, skill, talent and innovation. The architecture that I got to see there was indeed marvellous and tell stories of how advanced and artistic the people were during those days.

Here I have listed the top attractions in Mahabalipuram

#Mahabalipuram #Traveldiaries #Travelbloffer
Top attractions in Mahabalipuram

There were around seven pagodas built near the seashore of which the lone existing one is the shore temple. Built in the Dravidian style by this is the oldest temple in south India and it has also been listed in the UNESCO heritage site. There are three temples two of Lord Shiva and One of Lord Vishnu. there are carved sculptures of Indian gods and goddesses. Surrounding the temples are mandapas and walls. I was spellbound to see the structures that are all carved out of huge boulders and how the temple was built at the margin of the Bay of Bengal and the waves sweeps the walls of the temples. 


2. Arjuna’s Penance

Top Attractions in Mahabalipuram
Arjuna’s Penance

Top Attractions in Mahabalipuram

The Arjuna’s Penance is carved out of a rock and shaped like that off a wall. On either side there are figures of demi-gods, birds, beasts, figures of sun and moon can be seen. Carvings of hunters with bows and arrows chasing animals like tigers, rabbits, deer, a herd of elephants can also be seen. It is assumed that it tells the story of Arjuna of Mahabharata who meditated to be favoured by Lord Shiva. Whatever the storyline is the artistic talent of the those who made it is indeed praiseworthy.

   3. The Pancha Rathas

Top Attractions in Mahabalipuram
The Pancha Rathas
Top Attractions in Mahabalipuram
One of the Paanch Rathas

‘Pancha’ means Five and ‘Rathas’ means Chariots. The Pancha Rathas are a set of five monolithic rock temples. These Rathas are related to the epic Mahabharata and its Pandava heroes along with their wife Draupadi. There are the Draupadi’s Ratha dedicated to Goddess Durga, Arjuna’s Ratha dedicated to Lord Shiva, Yuddhisther’s Ratha which is the most huge, well designed and magnificent one, Nakul-Sahadev’s Rathadicated to Lord Indra and Bhima’s Ratha. All the rats tell various stories of bravery, of Gods and Goddess, all of which are associated with ancient Hindu mythology and culture. The monuments are massive, and also for photography lovers I am sure this place is going to win all hearts. 

4. Krishna’s Butterball- A balancing rock

The Balancing Rock – Krishna’s Butterball

The balancing rock is giant monolithic granite rock, 5 meters in diameter and around 250 tons in weight. Its original name is Vaan Iraq Kal which in Tamil means “The Stone of the Sky God” It miraculously stands on a hill slope resting at an angle of 45 degrees.  Many people tried to remove it in the past but it is unmovable. It is given the name Krishna’s Butterball after the story in Hindu Mythology where Lord Krishna steals butter and it is said it looks like that bolus of butter, little Lord Krishna would steal. I tried to move it too but failed. Well jokes apart, it is indeed a marvellous work of nature. 

5.  Mandapams

There are around 14 mandapams around Mamallapuram. But I couldn’t manage to visit one as there was a shortage of time.

6. India SeaShell Museum

If you are a seashell lover, it’s the right place for you. But avoid buying anything from the shops as I found them to be slightly overpriced. Along with the seashell museum, there is also an aquarium.T he museum has an amazing collection of conch shells and various other patterns of seashells. It’s around one and a half kilometres from the ‘five Ratha monuments’ .

It is enough to spend to spend a whole day to see around all the monuments in Mahabalipuram as most of them are located in the same vicinity. Since it was July when I visited, the heat was unbearable. So make sure you carry an umbrella, wear a hat and drink lots of water to keep you hydrated. There is no particular best time to visit, you can visit any time of the year but still, the weather is little mild from October to February.  

How To Reach Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is well connected by road from Chennai, Pondicherry, Kanchipuram and Chengalpattu. Chennai has the nearest airport and there are both national and international flights to Chennai on regular basis from almost all airports. Also, the nearest railway station is the  Chennai Central. Chennai is 45km from Mahabalipuram and from there you can take a bus, cab or taxi. Chengalpattu is another railway station which is connected with all important cities of Tamil Nadu. 

What to buy in Mahabalipuram

The moment our car entered Mahabalipuram I noticed there were lots and lots of shops that sell sculptures made out by carving stones. I saw huge sculptures of Lord Buddha, Ganesha, Shiva. I wish I could bring them home. Along with bigger ones, small statues of various gods and goddesses are available you can buy for your home or as gifts. But make sure to bargain. Also, you can buy conch shell necklaces, bangles from the shops in the market outside the monuments. But again the keyword is to bargain. 

Hope you found the article informative. Do drop in comments and share with your friends. The information I have given about the monuments are collected from the information as I was told by my driver anna,  who was a local guy and some I gathered from the internet. All the photographs are taken by Yours Truly.

Thank You 

places to visit in Mhabalipuram #Mahabalipuram #southindia + Places of tourist interest in South India


About Author

Ishani Nath, is a full time teacher and a passionate Blogger. She loves to write. With a classic taste in Fashion, a foodie and a bookworm she is happy in her own way. She loves travelling, gain knowledge and spread it to the world. A die hard handloom lover she also loves to adorn anything and everything handmade or handwoven.


  1. avatar

    Mahabalupuram could not be better located as a tourist spot. Who doesnt want to see amazing architecture; that too right on the beach. Not to mention the relaxing drive along the ECR!

    1. avatar

      Yes you are right. Its one such beautiful place in India which can be visited again and again.

  2. avatar

    I had never even heard of this place before the article, but now I want to visit. Another one for the bucket list. I’m a sucker for ancient architecture.

    1. avatar

      You will definitely love this place. Its located in South India.

  3. avatar

    Mahabalipuam is really an awesome place to visit. Specially because of Sea and very old temples. You have described the beauty of mahabalipuam in a nice way.

    1. avatar

      Thanks a lot

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