A temple town with hippie vibes: Mahabalipuram

Summer breeze
makes me feel fine
blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze
makes me feel fine
blowing through the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
a little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep
through the screen and across the floor



The song kept playing in my head like an ear-worm. It was a hot sultry day in June, when we landed in Chennai. An hours` drive to Mahabalipuram was a breadth of freshness. I had already booked a place to stay for the night at Eli`s Homestay and Kitchen run by the lovely and free spirited Liz Thottan. I didn`t think much of this  town in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu but only spending a day there made me fall in love with the place.

Sun, Sea and Surfing

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom  who ruled over South India from as early as the first century B.C. 60 kms from Chennai along the shores of The Bay of Bengal, now  this small town boasts of World Heritage sites, surfer`s paradise and has a hippie air about it. A perfect place to learn about history, relish fresh sea food and experience the uninterrupted rising of the tide at night.



Lonely Shores

We reached in the afternoon and after settling at our homestay, our host Liz accompanied us to the beach. June is an off-season, so we saw almost no one except for the locals lazing around their boats playing cards or untangling their fishing nets or just taking a nap in shade on the beach itself.

Wonderland for Travellers

It was only around evening that we saw some surfers waiting for the right tide to ride. It was so calm and serene at the beach that we ended up staying there till late evening and then took a stroll around the market area where the shopkeepers kept on calling us to the shops. At night we walked on the beach, a star filled sky, the sound of the sea mysteriously multiplied, taste of salt in the breeze and the inaccessible solitude transported us to a different wonderland.


Town Hopping

For one day, it was too much of action. So we took an early night and slept like babies till Liz woke us up the next morning with heavenly breakfast. After an elaborate breakfast we went to the Shore Temple, Arjuna`s Penance and Krishna`s butterball, before heading to the lighthouse. Due to lack of time,we could not cover the Five Rathas.


Heritage Trail

One can spend the whole day walking and exploring the heritage sites at Mahabalipuram. Places you can visit are listed below:

  1. Shore Temple
  2. Five Rathas
  3. Cave Temples : Varaha Mandapa, Mahisamardini Mandapa and Paramesvara Mahavaraha Vishnugriha
  4. Arjuna`s Penance which is a monolithic rock carving narrating the story of descent of Ganges. It`s advised that you take a guide to understand the meaning behind the rock carvings.
  5. Tiger Cave
  6. Krishna`s Butterball is a 20 ft high granite rock which defies all laws of physics, as it is balanced on the side of a hill.
  7. Lighthouse







After making most of the time, we headed back to our homestay and packed our bags for the next destination, which was Pondicherry. From East Coast road one can catch a local bus which usually takes around 4 hours to reach Pondicherry and costs you just 45 Rs.

See you at the next destination!!

|| Live to Travel || Travel to Live ||


author --
If it wasn't for some dear friends who backed out of a trip to Ladakh, Suman wouldn't have been sharing these travel stories today! It was an eye opener, her first solo trip. Beyond the shenanigans of youthful days, Suman experienced a world of many dimensions. With her words, Suman hopes to share and inspire.

13 thoughts on “A temple town with hippie vibes: Mahabalipuram

  1. So funny, I was literally just listening to that song before I read your post – so have been humming it all through reading it! This place looks so serene and calm, I’d love to visit at some point in the not too distant future 🙂 x

  2. These photos look lovely! I absolutely love the detailing on the temples, it’s so intricate! How did you find the homestay? Online or through personal connections?

    1. I agree the detailing is one of the main features of these temples…I had read about the place and upon reaching the locals guided me them..

  3. Sometimes places like this can be quite over-hyped but this looks amazing I would love to visit here one day. Your pictures are very enticing 😀

  4. Looks and sounds amazing! We are planning on travelling India next year and the South wasn’t somewhere I’d really considered before. Maybe I need to change our itinerary?

  5. Beautiful pictures. I have heard a lot about the shore temple in Mahabalipuram. There’s so much to explore within India itself, it’s such a culturally and historically rich country! I’m yet to see so many things.

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