If you are traveling in India, and have a flair for visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then an easy day trip from Chennai is the Group of Monuments at Mahabhalipuram.
Mahabhalipuram is only about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours from Chennai. We started leisurely from Chennai after breakfast. On our way there, we stopped at the Tamilnadu Tourism Beach Resort to grab lunch and enjoy some time by the beach. This is indeed a gem! While you get basic Indian food, the access to the beach is amazing. I would highly recommend stopping here for a while. There are some other nice hotels in that area as well where you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy the beach.
Once we reached the monuments, we took our time exploring each site starting with the Shore Temple. It was interesting to see all of the detailed stone carvings in the monuments. We hired a guide to help us better understand the stories embedded in the carvings.
There was one spot between the monuments where the rock had become so smooth over time that kids slide down the rock face thoroughly enjoying themselves (also known as “Krishna’s butter ball”). Of course, our kids joined in the fun as well.
Mahabhalipuram is the home of some amazing stone sculptors. If you are looking to buy any stone sculptures directly from the artist, then make sure you browse through the many shops there. I managed to pick up some really nice sculptures directly from the sculptor!
We started back towards Chennai around 5pm. The drive upto the outskirts was pretty easy but of course, we hit rush hour traffic inside the city. We made it back to our hotel by dinner time. All in all, a nice day trip!