Sandy beaches and rolling waves make Mahabalipuram one of India's top surfing destinations. The laid-back town sits on the Bay of Bengal and was once the beating heart of India's Pallava dynasty, which is showcased in the ancient ruins, intricate carvings and World Heritage-listed temples.
Things to do in Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is one of India's liveliest surf towns, where you can sign up for lessons or rent a board at Mumu Surf School. After working up an appetite, fill up on smoothies, pancake stacks and power bowls at the school's Sandy Bottom Café.
It's hard to resist the buzz of Mahabalipuram's bustling city centre, where you'll find cafes, restaurants and colourful stores selling Indian trinkets. For authentic South Indian fare, head to Mamalla Bhavan, known for its colourful banana-leaf thalis.
Anchored by a trio of granite shrines, the Shore Temple is perched on the Bay of Bengal and was built to host Pallava kings in the 8th century. Gaze up at the soaring towers, admire intricate carvings and wander around the sacred shrines.
Clustered together at the southern tip of Mahabalipuram, the Five Rathas are each dedicated to a Hindu deity. They're an incredible feat of 7th-century architecture, with each temple carved from a single rock. Arjuna’s Penance is another highlight, featuring intricate Hindu carvings inscribed on a pair of enormous boulders.
Getting around Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is easy to get around on foot or bicycle. You'll also find plenty of taxis and auto rickshaws. Chennai International is 50 kilometres south of Mahabalipuram. Buses run to Chennai in around two hours.