Top ChoiceHindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Arjuna’s Penance

The crowning masterpiece of Mamallapuram’s stonework, this giant relief carving is one of India's greatest ancient artworks. Inscribed on two huge, adjacent boulders, the Penance bursts with scenes of Hindu myth...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Trimurti Cave Temple

At the northern end of the Mamallapuram Hill compound, the Trimurti Cave Temple depicts the Hindu 'trinity' amid guardian figures: Brahma (left), Shiva (centre) and Vishnu (right). A fine carving of elephants...

Hindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Five Rathas

Five Rathas

Huddled together at the southern end of Mamallapuram, the Five Rathas were, astonishingly, all carved from single large rocks. Each of these fine 7th-century temples was dedicated to a Hindu god and is now named...

Hindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Shore Temple

Standing like a magnificent fist of rock-cut elegance overlooking the sea, surrounded by gardens and ruined courts, the two-towered Shore Temple symbolises the heights of Pallava architecture and the maritime...

Hindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Mahishamardini Mandapa

At the southern end of the Mamallapuram Hill complex, the Mahishamardini Mandapa is carved from the rock, displaying very fine scenes from the Puranas (Sanskrit stories from the 5th century AD). These include...

Hindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Varaha Mandapa

Home to some of Mamallapuram's most brilliant carvings, the Varaha Mandapa depicts Vishnu's boar avatar, Varaha, lifting the earth out of the oceans (left panel), alongside fine columns with seated lions....

Hindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Krishna Mandapa

Just south of the Arjuna's Penance relief carving, the Krisha Mandapa has a fine 16th-century colonnade and contains a famous carving of Krishna protecting cows and villagers from Indra's wrath by lifting...

Hindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Ganesh Ratha

Decorated with lion-shaped pillar bases, the Ganesh Ratha is carved from a single rock and was originally a Shiva shrine.

Nature Reserve in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

This marshy bird sanctuary, 55km southwest of Mamallapuram (an easy day trip), is a spectacular 30-hectare breeding ground for many kinds of waterbirds, which migrate here from November to February. Each year...

Hindu Temple in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Vedagirishvara Temple

About 15km west of Mamallapuram is this hilltop temple dedicated to Shiva, reached via approximately 500 steps. According to legend, two vultures (easily confused with eagles) fly here each day at noon from...

Natural Feature in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Krishna's Butterball

You can't miss this enormous boulder (and favourite photo spot), balancing precariously on Mamallapuram Hill, right opposite the compound's northernmost entrance.

Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Lion Throne

A beautifully carved throne or seat in the shape of a lion, a little west (uphill) from the Raya Gopura on Mamallapuram Hill.

Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Unfinished Relief Carving

Similarly sized to Mamallapuram's famous Arjuna's Penance, this unfinished relief carving is just south along West Raja St.

Lighthouse in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)


Accessed via steep, narrow steps, Mamallapuram's lighthouse offers wonderful panoramas.

Hindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Ramanuja Mandapa

South of the Raya Gopura the main Mamallapuram Hill path passes the Ramanuja Mandapa.

Hindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Raya Gopura

Generally thought to be an unfinished gopuram dating from the 16th century.