A very long time ago, Mahabalipuram {officially known as Mamallapuram} was a major port of the Pallavas, who commissioned gorgeous temples and carvings that the town is still famous for. Mahabalipuram has also gained fame as a beach lover’s favourite and is the perfect place to ride a wave or sit by the electric blue waters, waiting for a school of dolphins to swim by. To complete the holiday thrill there’s plenty of food to tuck into and retail therapy to indulge in. LBB jots down your itinerary for Mahabalipuram.

Meet The Crocs

crocodile bank at mahabalipuram

Photo by: Adam Jones

On your way to Mahabalipuram, hop off at the Madras Crocodile Bank for a face-to-face with a legion of crocodiles. The brainchild of leading herpetologist Romulus Whitaker, the bank was started to save the mugger and saltwater crocodiles, and the gharial from going extinct. The bank is also home to reptiles, lizards, and turtles. You can drop by during feeding sessions, weekend night safaris, and even interact with baby pythons, crocodiles, and turtles during your here.

Where: No. 4, Mahabalipuram

Price: INR 35 for adults, INR 10 for children below ten years

Contact: 044 27472447

Timings: 8.30am-5.30pm, Mondays are holidays

Check out their website here.

Surf’s Up!

Love the adventures that the sea offers? Mahabalipuram is the perfect place to get on those surf boards and rule the waves. The Mumu Surf School is pretty popular around here and beginners can sign up for lessons with an instructor. For the pros, Mumu has a ranges of boards {surf, long, body} on offer that you can rent out and head towards the surging waves. Angling trips and boat rides {to spot dolphins} into the deep blue sea are also common here.

Where: 42, Fisherman Colony, Othavadi Street, Mahabalipuram

Price: Check out the rates here and here.

Contact: +91 9789844191

Find them on Facebook here.

Check out their website here.

Bicycle Diaries

Of course, bicycles are a great way to move around in Mahabalipuram {you can rent one at a local shop}. But if want something out of the ordinary, you sign up for the Kadumbadi Bicycle Tour offered by Thrillophilia. The tour will take you through the village of Kadumbadi, that’s close by. You can cycle through narrow lanes and take in scenes from rural life and also try your hand at pottery.

For more information on the tour, click here.

History Lesson

shore temple at mahabalipuram

Photo by: J’Ram DJ

For history and architecture buffs, Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove. The Shore Temple, right on the main beach, is a centuries-old stone structure with intricate carvings and its elegant gopuram is sure to have you transfixed. There’s also the five Ratha Temples. Each of them carved from one stone each and dedicated to the Pandavas and their wife, Draupadi. While they are incomplete {which is why no worship takes place here}, every inch of this procession of chariots is covered in detailed sculpture work.

And, finally, the Descent of the Ganges and Arjuna’s Penance – an open-air, rock relief – that’s carved on two boulders. The intricate stonework includes Arjuna performing penance on one leg {in the hopes that Lord Shiva would grant him a powerful weapon}, herds of elephants, nagas descending through a cleft in the rock, and other scenes from everyday life.

Stones And Soles

sculpture market in mahabalipuram

Photo by: Karty Jazz

A tour of the heritage sites in Mahabalipuram is sure to inspire you and wish that you could take a sculpture back with you. While the ones at the heritage sites are strictly out of bounds, you can visit any of the small shops at Mahabalipuram beach to pick out an exquisite stone sculpture. From serenely meditating Buddhas to elegant Ganeshas, elephants, and mythical creatures – local artisans make them all. You can also score pairs of handcrafted sandals that are made-to-order and come in a range of happy colours. For more information, click here.

Shack Up

Finally, there is the food. If nothing else, Mahabalipuram’s seafood offerings will bring you back for a second or third trip. Restaurants {all scattered around the main beach area} like the Blue Elephant and Santana {this one comes with a great view of the sea} are where you head to for helpings of prawns, calamari, and fish that come in a host of curries and sauces. Tiny cafes like Freshly ‘n’ Hot, Namaste Restaurant, and German Bakery also do killer business with their crepe, pancake and pastry offerings.

Featured image by: Balasubramanian S

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