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Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)
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Introducing Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Mamallapuram was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram, and a wander round the town’s great, World Heritage–listed temples and carvings inflames the imagination, especially at sunset.

And then, in addition to ancient archaeological wonders, there’s the traveller ghetto of Othavadai and Othavadai Cross Sts. Restaurants serve pasta, pizza and pancakes, shops sell hand sanitiser and things from Tibet, and you know you have landed, once again, in the Kingdom of Backpackistan.

‘Mahabs’, as some call it, is only two hours by bus from Chennai, and many travellers make a beeline straight here. The town is small and laid-back, and its sights can be explored on foot or by bicycle.