About an hour on the picturesque East coast road connecting Chennai to various coastal towns, we enter into the town of Mammalapuram, more popularly known as Mahabalipuram or Mahabs. A quaint little town by the seaside. If you’re looking for a destination with good food and reasonable accommodation, where you can relax and have fun with the family, Mahabs is the place to be.
The charm of Mahabs
The first thing that struck me about Mahabs was the charm about the place. The dusty roads, the hippie style clothing outlets where you get cheap, comfortable and needless to say, the most fashionable clothes. The restaurants that offer delicious food ranging from South Indian cuisine to exotic sea food at reasonable rates and the beach of course are the major attractions that keep drawing people back to the place.
Mahabs, as mentioned earlier, is famous for its rock carvings dating back to the Dravidian times. It’s amazing to see the skill with which these have been carved out of just one rock. Some of the famous rock structures worth seeing are Arjuna’s Penance, the five Ratha’s, Tiger’s cave, and the Shore Temple which is one of the oldest temples in South India.
The Cornerstone House
On the East Coast Road, about 2 kilometers from the main town area stands the Cornerstone House at the Scripture Union Campsite. This beautiful, sprawling campsite has little cottages, a swimming pool and its very own private beach. The house is surrounded by flowering shrubs, trees and coconut palms, with exotic architecture of Indian heritage, all merging to give a peaceful ambience.
Basketball, volleyball, cricket facilities and adventure areas are available for the kids to enjoy. This is a perfect destination for the complete family holiday.
The sights and sounds
There are a few more places to visit in Mahabs that are definitely worth mentioning. First there’s Moon Rakers – probably one of the most famous and frequented restaurants in Mahabs. This restaurant is always buzzing with activity whether it is breakfast or late night. The food here is to die for. Then there’s a street lined with shops that sell cheap cotton clothes perfect for the sultry weather in Mahabs. Also worth mentioning is the art and craft stall’s near the five Ratha’s.
Here you can find curios, keep-sakes, jewellery etc carved out of marble. I bought a chess set in marble years ago, and it’s still as good as new. A visit to the light house is a must in this sea side town. It stands tall atop a large rock, and is one of the oldest and most often visited lighthouses on the east coast of India. Sadly after the Tsunami, many of the beaches have been washed away.
But beaches are beaches and the beaches of Mahabs will never lose their magic. Mahabs is definitely a place worth visiting. The best time of the year to visit would be from October to March.
Sharon Lyngwa Dennis is a trainer and facilitates life skills sessions for children at various schools in Bangalore. She, along with her husband, love to travel and regularly go on road trips across the country.