Mamallapuram is an ancient city of India. It was previously known as Mahabalipuram. It was an ancient seaport city of the Pallava dynasty.
The archeological monuments in Mamallapuram dating back to 7th-9th century are the oldest existing examples of South Indian (Dravidian) architecture. These structures are carved straight out of hard granite. The shore temple in Mahabalipuram was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984.
You will need 1 day to explore Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram).
India Visa Guide coming soon.
Chennai International Airport (MAA) is the closest airport.
Hotels, guest houses and Airbnbs are a bit expensive. The cheapest non air-condition room in a guest house costs about 1000 INR. The cheapest air-conditioned room costs about 1500 INR. You can get away with a non-air-conditioned room during the winter months, but you would definitely need an air-conditioned room in non-winter months.
Most hotels and guest houses are around Othavadai St and Othavadai Cross St. The town is very small and is walkable, so it doesn’t really matter where you are staying.
In addition to this Mamallapuram travel guide, I suggest checking out the below guides to plan your trip.
Transport from/to airport
The most expensive option is to take a taxi directly from the airport. The least expensive would be to take a Taxi or Uber to the CMBT bus station and take a local bus from there.
Transport from/to CMBT bus terminal
The express air-condition buses from CMBT (Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus) that go directly to Pondicherry do not stop in Mamallapuram. Only non-air-conditioned local buses stop in Mamallapuram. Non-air-conditioned local buses are cheap, but they can get extremely crowded. A one-way ride on a local bus would cost 45 INR.
To avoid getting stuck in the crowd on the bus, always pick an empty bus in the bus station. Sit in the very first seat next to the driver. The very first seat will have more legroom and space for luggage. Do not sit in the middle or back of the bus. There won’t be any luggage space in the middle or back of the bus. The overhead bins are only for very small backpacks. Either way, keep an eye on your bags.
Bus will drop you off on the main road, called ECR (East Coast Road) or by-pass road. Take an auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to your hotel or guest house. Auto-rickshaw costs about 50 INR.
There is no train option available for Mamallapuram
There are no local buses inside the town. The town is very small and is walkable.
Uber service is not available in the town.
Auto-rickshaw or tuk-tuk (called an “auto” in India) are available everywhere within the town.
There are no self-drive car rental services in Mamallapuram. If you have already rented a car in Chennai or elsewhere, you can drive in Mamallapuram as well. Keep in mind that you need an IDP to drive in India. Check out India Driving Guide by International Driver’s Association for more information.
Only a couple of ATMs and currency exchanges are available in the town.
Hotels and restaurants do not accept credit cards and insist on paying with cash or paying an additional surcharge of 3%.
There are a couple of currency exchanges within the town.
Internet is terrible in the town. The wifi offered at the hotels and cafes does not work. There are a couple of Internet centers in the town in case of emergency.
Alternate option is to get an Airtel prepaid sim with 4G data to browse or use it as a hotspot. Airtel has good reception here and the 4G speeds are very good.
Airtel has very good reception in the town. Jio and other providers have very poor reception.
Tap water is not safe for drinking. Water bottles are sold pretty much everywhere. A 1-liter water bottle costs 20 INR and a 2-liter costs 30 INR.
South Indian and North India cuisine are available in most restaurants. Sandwiches, burgers and pizza are also available in restaurants in and around Othavadai street. For good South Indian Vegetarian food, I recommend Sri Ananda Bhavan and Mamalla Bhavan.
There are quite a few bars and restaurants around that sell local Indian beer.
Tipping is not customary in India. You can just leave a small change. Or pick up the bill and pay at the cash counter.
Mamallapuram is warm/hot most of the year. Summer wear should be good throughout the year.
Most hotels offer laundry services. There are no coin or self-service laundry facilities in the town.
It is common to use a bidet sprayer or hand sprayer in toilets in India. Hotels do not provide any toilet paper. You may have to purchase your own toilet paper.
There are plenty of stores around that sell toilet paper. Used toilet paper is usually thrown in the toilet and flushed.
The town is small and pretty safe until 10 pm or so in the night. One thing to keep in mind is the street vendors. They hassle the tourists a lot. Do not pay much attention to them, just walk away. Sometimes they chase you and bug you, just say no and walk away.
The Shore Temple
The shore temple was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. All monuments in Mamallapuram are carved straight out of hard granite, whereas the Shore Temple is a building. One entry ticket purchased anywhere gives access to all monuments for that day. One ticket costs 30 INR for Indians and 500 INR for non-Indians.
Pancha Rathas in Mahabalipuram dates back to 7th century. It contains 5 chariots carved from a single stone. There are some enormous stone animals including a huge elephant. A guide would cost around 150 INR.
Arjuna’s Penance is an elaborate and detailed stone carvings that includes families of elephants and monkeys.
There are many other monuments and stone carvings dating back to 7th-9th century. They are all along the Mada Koil St. After Pancha Radhas, you can enter the site of other monuments through Mada Koil St.
Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) is an ancient seaport city of India dating back to the 7th-9th century. You would need 1 full day to explore Mamallapuram.
WRITTEN BY THIRUMAL MOTATI
Thirumal Motati is a world traveler and digital nomad from India. He is on a mission to travel to every country in the world on his Indian passport. He believes that his weak passport cannot stop him from traveling the world. Through this blog, he inspires many to take up the life of travel despite their weak passports. His guidance has helped many secure their visas and fulfill their travel dreams.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL WITH VISA TRAVELER
I highly recommend using these websites to plan your trip. I use these websites myself to apply for my visas, book my flights and hotels and purchase my insurance.
01. Apply for your visa
You can get a verifiable flight itinerary for your visa application from DummyTicket. Flight itineraries from DummyTicket are valid for 2 weeks and work for all visa applications.
02. Book your fight
You can find the cheapest flight tickets using Skyscanner. Skyscanner includes all budget airlines and you are guaranteed to find the cheapest flight to your destination.
03. Book your hotel
You can book your hotel from Booking.com. Booking.com has pretty much every hotel, hostel and guesthouse from every destination.
04. Get your onward ticket
If traveling on a one-way ticket, you can get your proof of onward flight from Expedia. Expedia offers free cancellation on tickets booked within 24 hours. Or use OnwardTicket to get a proof of onward ticket in just 2 minutes.
05. Purchase your insurance
You can purchase travel insurance for your trip from WorldNomads. With WorldNomads, you can purchase and extend your travel insurance from anywhere.
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I get a small commission if you click on them and make a booking or purchase, but at no additional cost to you. These commissions help support this blog.