Getting to & from Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram or ‘Mal’, as many travellers call it, is 51 km (31 miles) south of Chennai. It takes less than two hours by bus from Chennai, and many travellers make a beeline here straight from Chennai.
By Bus – Buses arrive in the centre of the town from either Koyembedu (CMBT) or Tiruvanmiyur (in Chennai) and Kanchipuram. There are direct buses from CMBT but you can also take any bus that has ECR written on the front. However, some of these ECR buses will drop you outside town, and don’t go into the town proper. You can also catch the bus from Pondicherry.
By Taxi – A taxi from Chennai will cost Rs. 600-800 one-way (USD 15 to 20) though the rates are likely to be higher based on the season and cab operator. The drive from Chennai on the East Coast Road is, by Indian standards, a wonderful experience. The road runs parallel to the coast of Bay of Bengal making it a scenic drive, although you will not see the sea until the last few miles. The 2004 tsunami wreaked havoc around here, so you will see shanty towns built for affected fishermen and much of the greenery has been swept away.
Getting around Mahabalipuram
Most people travel around the Mahabalipuram tourist places on foot or bicycle. A self-guided walking tour is an excellent way to see the sites. Alternatively, you can speed up your tour of Mahabalipuram on a bicycle which can be hired for the day in town.
Try to start your tour around Mahabalipuram as early in the day as possible, before busloads of noisy vacationers descend. Also, as the day proceeds, it gets really hot and humid even in winter.
Since the places to visit in Mahabalipuram are in the open and afternoons can get sultry, it is advisable to carry sunshades, hat, sunscreen lotion, and of course a bottle of drinking water. Also wear comfortable walking shoes and dress according to the weather.
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