Visiting Mahabalipuram: A Day Trip from Chennai

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I visited Chennai for my friend’s wedding. An Indian wedding is a festivity on its own, but while we were in Chennai, I wanted to do some day trips to see the local culture and history.


How to get to Mahabalipuram

Chennai is the closest city to Mahabalipuram. It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours of driving from Chennai to Mahabalipuram, depending on traffic.

I suggest leaving early in the morning, around 7:30 AM from Chennai. This will allow you to get back to Chennai by late afternoon around 3-4 PM, and it will also allow you to avoid the crazy morning traffic jam in Chennai.


Cost of visiting Mahabalipuram from Chennai

We were lucky that our friend’s wedding planner was able to help us sort out the logistics of getting to Mahabalipuram. Here is the cost of our group of 6:

Guide costINR 2,500 + INR 1,000 for tips
Transportation costINR 8,850 (inclusive of 18% tax) for a 12-seater bus
Entrance TicketINR 3,600 for 6 tickets
TOTALINR 14,950 for 6 people
(INR 2,491.67 per person)

I’ll leave you my driver and guide contacts so that you can contact them yourselves:

  • Basha, our tour guide: +919940450122
  • Krisnamoorthy, our driver: +919941260406

They are not from the same company, so you do need to arrange with them separately. While I was happy with their services for our group, I am not clear how the booking was done since it was taken care of by the wedding planner.


If you can’t be bothered with arranging the day yourself, you can simply book a day trip to Mahabalipuram here, which will include transport, a guide, an entrance ticket, and lunch. This tour will take you to all the places I’ll be mentioning below.

There is also an option to visit Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram as a day trip from Chennai. I did not do this since the tour takes longer and I had to be back in Chennai by 5 pm for the wedding activities.

What to see in Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site of 7th- and 8th-century Hindu monuments created during the reign of Pallava dynasty. So while you’re here, you’ll be viewing these collections of monuments.

Here are a few monuments we managed to visit on our trip:

1. Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots)

Pancha Rathas is one of the monument complexes in Mahabalipuram. As the name suggested, it consisted of five monuments resembling chariots. What makes them special is that each monument was carved out of a single monolith, meaning they were all made out of one single stone.

Pancha Rathas Mahabalipuram
Pancha Rathas Mahabalipuram
Pancha Rathas Mahabalipuram
Pancha Rathas Mahabalipuram

2. Krishna Mandapam

Krishna Mandapam is a carving depicting Krishna, one of the major Hinduism deity, lifting Mount Govardhan. The carving shows Krishna supporting the mountain with his left arm.

A carving of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan

This carving was originally an open–air carving, but was later enclosed in a “mandapa” (pillared halls) in the 16th century.

Khrisna Mandapam Mahabalipuram

3. Arjuna’s Penance

Next to Khrisna Mandapam is Arjuna’s Penance, a carving depicting the story of Kiratarjuna and how the sacred River of Ganges descended to earth.

Arjuna's Penance Mahabalipuram

4. Krishna’s Butterball

This gigantic granite boulder balances itself on an incline. There had been several failed attempts to move the boulder, but it would not budge.

Khrisna's Butterball Mahabalipuram

Nearby the butterball, there are several other rock formations that are even larger, though none as spherical as Krishna’s Butterball.


5. Ganesha Ratha

Ganesha Ratha is the only completed monument in the area. It is a monolithic temple dedicated to Shiva, the God of Destruction in Hinduism.

Ganesha Ratha Mahabalipuram

6. Varaha Cave Temple

Varaha Temple Mahabalipuram

7. Roya Gopuram

Roya Gopuram Mahabalipuram

8. Shore Temple

Located next to the Bay of Bengal, Shore Temple is believed to be what was left of the “Seven Pagodas” as described by early European explorers. It is believed that the other six temples now lie below the sea.

Shore Temple Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple Mahabalipuram

Alright, that was my experience visiting Mahabalipuram. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments below.

Until next time!

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Filed under: India

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

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