Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Mamallapuram, 31 miles (50km) south of Chennai, was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram. A wander around the town’s magnificent, World Heritage–listed temples and carvings inflames the imagination, especially at sunset.

In addition to ancient archaeological wonders, salty air and coastal beauty, there’s also the traveler hub of Othavadai and Othavadai Cross Sts, where restaurants serve pasta, pizza and pancakes, and shops sell Tibetan trinkets. The town's buzzing, growing surf scene is another attraction.

‘Mahabs’, as most call it, is less than two hours by bus from Chennai, and many travellers make a beeline straight here. It's small and laid-back, and sights can be explored on foot or by bicycle.

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