Mahabalipuram Temples: Visit These 10 Breathtakingly Beautiful South Indian Souls In 2023

The once busy port of the ancient city of Mahabalipuram is today considered one of the most popular and beautiful towns of Tamil Nadu. Mahabalipuram is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its numerous temples that were carved from the rocks at the Coromandel Coast during the 7th and 8th centuries. Each of these temples is an architectural wonder. If you are an enthusiast in the ancient designs and carvings of old then you must visit the below mentioned Mahabalipuram temples that are a true charmer!

10 Stunning Mahabalipuram Temples
Also called mandapas at some point in time, some of the famous temples rock-cut temples of this place include Shore Temple, Pancha Pandava Cave Temple, Ganesha Ratha Temple, and Karukathamman Temple. Here is a list of some of them:
* Shore Temple – A Fascinating Shrine 
* Ganesh Temple – Which Looks Like A Chariot
* Krishna Temple – Located Close To The Beach
* Atiranachanda Cave Temple – A Rare Site
* The Five Chariots – A Unique Architectural Beauty 
* Sthalasayana Perumal Temple – Dedicated To Lord Vishnu
* Arjuna’s Penance – With Immense Mythologies
* Varaha Cave Temple – Known For Intricate Architecture
* Karukathamman Temple – A Small Yet Significant Site
* Trimurti Cave Temple – Dedicated To Hindu Gods
1. Shore Temple – A Fascinating Shrine 
These temples have captivated every traveler. Made from granite, the temple has three sanctums, two of which are dedicated to Lord Shiva and one to Lord Vishnu. These sanctums to date remain the best examples of single rock-cut structures. The temple also houses a number of smaller shrines that complement the larger structure.
The actual name of the temple is not known, but given the close proximity to the sea, it is called the Shore Temple. The fascinating fact is that the existing temple is the only one remaining of a complex of seven shrines. The others are considered to be the submerged temples of Mahabalipuram.
Location: Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM

2. Ganesh Temple – Which Looks Like A Chariot
An architectural marvel belonging to the Pallava dynasty, this rick cut shrine is sculptured to look like a chariot for the lord. The wonder of this temple is that it is built out of a single giant rock. The architectural wonder of the Pallavas does not end there – every bit of the temple is carved exquisitely, including the shikhara of the temple.
This makes the temple look like it has two layers. The temple is guarded by four yalis who are sculpted into the stone pillars. The intricate designs carved on the stone on both sides of the rock-cut temples are an architectural wonder.
Location: Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
3. Krishna Temple – Located Close To The Beach

This is one of the famous temples of Mahabalipuram near the beach. This used to be an open-air temple until the Vijayanagar Empire in the 16th century when the temple got enclosed within a mandap. The walls of the temple depict the story of Krishna lifting the Govardhan Mountain to protect his people. It also depicts him frolicking with the milkmaids. This cave temple sees the daily footfall of numerous people. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location: Krishna cave, Mahabalipuram
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM

4. Atiranachanda Cave Temple – A Rare Site

Despite being an architectural wonder, the Atiranachanda Cave Temple does not always get its deserved attention. This is one of the oldest temples in Mahabalipuram. Massive boulders were cut to make staircases that lead to the temple’s forecourt. There is an open-air shivling facing which is Nandi the bull.
Right where the staircase comes to an end, near the sculpture of Nandi, is a carving on a boulder depicting Mahishasurmardini slaying the demon Mahishasura. The artha mandapam (verandah) here has beautiful inscriptions from the Pallava grantha.
Next to this is the rare dhara linga carved out black, glistening stone. On the wall right behind it is Lord Shiva as Somaskanda, inscribed into the wall. On either side of him are Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma in their Trimurti avatar.
Location: Krishanankaranai, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM

5. The Five Chariots – A Unique Architectural Beauty 

Like many other temples in Mahabalipuram, this is another intriguing complex that is full of architectural beauty. This temple can be found in the southern end of the town of Mahabalipuram. The chariots are carved out of single granite in the Dravidian architectural style. Each of the chariots is dedicated to a Pandavas of Mahabharata
Location: Pancha Rathas, Mahabalipuram
Timings: 6 AM – 8 PM

6. Sthalasayana Perumal Temple – Dedicated To Lord Vishnu

In the history of the temples of Mahabalipuram, this temple has a special place. Out of the 108 Vishnu temples, which is prominently mentioned reference in the works of Tamil saints, this is one of them. It is one out of the 108 Divya Desams. The temple is dedicated to the Sthalasayana Perumal avatar and the Lord Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu.
There are two separate shrines – one dedicated to each of them. This temple is also the birthplace of Bhoothnath Azhwar. He was the second of the Azhwars. This temple has a mesmerizing beauty to it. The temple has been mentioned in many historical books and folklores.
Location: S Mada St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 8 PM

7. Arjuna’s Penance – With Immense Mythologies

This is a giant rock-cut relief considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. This place is also called the ‘Descent of the Ganges’ owing to the fact that the structure showcases the symbolic events of Hindu mythology in which Ganga comes down to earth. The architecture and history of this place attract a large number of historians, scholars, and academics who are enthusiastic about the cultural past of India.
This sculpting form has its roots way back in the 7th century in South India. These structures still have the legacy of the famous Pallava Art. Today they are protected and preserved by both ASI and UNESCO. It is hard not to notice the unbelievable efficiency and skill of the craftsman of that era who used only hammer and chisel to make this.
Location: W Raja St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 8 PM

8. Varaha Cave Temple – Known For Intricate Architecture

It is a rock-cut cave temple located on the Coromandel coast. The temple is quite ancient dating back to 7th century BC and the perfect example of Indian rock-cut architecture. This is a hidden gem of South India and yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. There are very dominating elements of Buddhist designs throughout the temple. The temple in itself is small yet the influence that the art holds in your head is huge. For this reason, it is one of the top places to visit in Mahabalipuram.
Location:Mada Koil St, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
9. Karukathamman Temple – A Small Yet Significant Site

Lying by the smooth breeze of ocean wind, Karukathamman Temple is located on the borders. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Karu Katha Amman. Her idol has some unique features. The idol appears to be sitting with a lot of weapons with the goddess pressing the demon under her feet. It is a small temple when compared to others in Mahabalipuram. It is a famous, old and traditional temple with regular renovations.
Location: 176, Tirukkalukkundram Rd, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
Timings: 7 AM – 12 PM, 2PM – 6 PM

10. Trimurti Cave Temple – Dedicated To Hindu Gods

Another ancient temple known for the intricate art work and being the finest example of Pallava era architecture. Located in the city of Mamallapuram – the city of sculptures and monuments, the temple is a popular monument. This temple does not have a porch and contains three shrines which have been completely excavated. The temple art reflects the three gods of Hinduism – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Exploring this temple and the art in it might just be one of the best things to do in Mahabalipuram.
Timings: 8 AM – 6 PM

How To Reach Mahabalipuram

By Road: It is just 60 km away from Chennai and is well-connected via the efficient East Coast Road. It can be easily covered in a single day trip. It is also very near to Bangalore. All the monuments are within walking distance from each other. It is generally a 5 to 10 minutes’ walk from one site to the other. You can move around conveniently.
By Rail: The closest station to Mahabalipuram is in Chennai, followed by Bangalore.
By Air: The nearest airport is the Chennai airport, followed by Bangalore.

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