LayoverLuge: Chennai to Mahabalipuram UNESCO shore (and the croc farm midway!)

Mahabalipuram (a.k.a. Mamallapuram, further a.k.a Mal) is a treasure coast of UNESCO sites accompanied by mellow hippie beach hangout.

Tonight The Rapid Traveler was inspired by Sara Mathew, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, in her call to ‘Dare to Lead,’ in a conversation sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI). CASI claims to the first, and still only, academic research center in the US for the study of contemporary India, which is a sad indicator of the low global engagement by US higher education.

The Rapid Travel Chai #2 tip for India is to use the government-run prepay taxis from the airports. It is #2 because the #1 tip is to not leave the airport before booking, because once out you cannot reenter to get the prepay taxis and are then at the mercy of swarming touts.

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Hippies still asleep at noon

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Shore Temple

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Shore Temple

A half-day layover at Chennai (MAA) is just enough for the 1-2 hour dash (if avoiding rush hours) down the coast to Mal, a 7th-century port city of the Pallava Dynasty. Book the prepay taxi for the roundtrip and waiting time. Those with more time and on a tighter budget can take bus 108B.

Entering town, first is the hippie beach, then the Shore Temple, and on to the main cluster of sites, collectively the UNESCO site Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (WHT 360-degree photos).

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The Five Rathas (rock-cut Dravidian temples)

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Ajurna's Penance, relief carving of scenes from Hindu myth

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Krishna's Butter Ball, great spot for fun photos

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Lighthouse over Mahabalipuram

For those with time, the area can easily occupy a few days.

And on the road back from Chennai, don’t forget to stop for the comic crocs, more on that tomorrow!

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Nap time at the Madras Crocodile Bank

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  • I agree with you on the India tips, though you can occasionally get back in if you sweet talk the guards.

    Did you travel on an Indian bus (the regular kind, not the luxury ones)? It is a great introduction to India!

  • @Million Mile Secrets, unfortunately my stops in India have been too brief for the full bus experience, mainly transiting to other South Asian countries, but my Bangaladesh train and bus experiences were quite colorful. I have a 10-year multiple-entry Indian visa and hoping to make several dedicated trips.