Picture this. You have a weekend coming up. And you are tired of the normal attractions around your town. What will you do? We suggest you drive out along the East Coast Road and visit Mahabalipuram. And take a stroll among the various monuments in and around this amazing place.
Mahabalipuram (also Mamallapuram) is situated just 60 km off Chennai. Do you need more reasons to escape to this historic place? This ancient town used to be a bustling port during Ptolemy's time and later became a stronghold of the Pallava kings. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What should you see
See the various Rathas, walk around the temples, walk to the beach. Watch people, take in the local culture. You will never forget the experience.
What should you do
Once you are done with the monuments and the temples, head out to the beach. Surf to your heart's content. Watch the fisherfolk go out fishing. Shop till you get trinkets and small presents for everyone who is not on the trip with you. And oh yeah, bargain. Don't get cheated.
When should you go?
The best time to go to Mahabalipuram is during October to February. Forget walking around here in the summers, for it will be so warm and humid.
What should you eat?
If you love seafood, you are in paradise. There is enough to satisfy the hunger pangs even if you do not eat fish. Try the local delicacies and there are places that serve you European food made in India!
What else can you do nearby?
About 5 km north of Mahabalipuram is the ancient Tiger Caves. Tirukkalikundram, around 14 km from Mahabalipuram, is a pilgrimage center. You can also head out to the Madras Crocodile Farm.
So, if you are someone who loves loitering around marveling at the ancient buildings in awe, Mahabalipuram is a must. If you love the beach, then too, you have to head out to Mahabalipuram. It will be crowded during weekends and holidays, so expect crowds over the weekend.