Located at a distance of 58-km from Chennai, Mahabalipuram has everything that makes a site memorable; tradition, history, piety, western annals, and current importance as a centre of tourism.

Mahabalipuram is located close to Chennai (Madras) on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, along the Indian eastern coast. Known for its rocks carvings and monolithic sculptures it has the famous shore temple, the only one to have survived the ravages of nature. Also known as the Seven Pagodas (temples), six now lie submerged in the sea. Mahabalipuram temples whose architecture was inspired by the Pallava Art were built during the period 830 - 1100 AD.

Mahabalipuram contains nearly forty monuments of different types including an "open air bas relief" which is the largest in the world. For centuries it has been a centre of pilgrimage, and even today it attracts devotees and foreigners in large numbers.

There are two low hills in Mahabalipuram, about 400m from the sea whose both sides have 11 excavated temples, called Mandapas. Out of a big rock standing free nearby there is a "cut out" temple, called a "Ratha". This type is unique to Mahabalipuram.

Out of the other hill, much smaller and standing about 200m to the south, are fashioned five more rathas, and three big sculptures of a Nandi, a Loin and an Elephant. On the top of the bigger hill there is a structural temple, and a little distance the magnificent beginnings of a Vijayanagar Gopura and also survivals of what is believed to be a palace