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Road Trip around Mahabalipuram
19th March 2017

written by -   Shubadip Mukherjee


Over the years of travelling across India and abroad I have often felt the urge to set off on my own instead of a booked private car or public transport. I have seen many unknown and unheard of places just by travelling alone. This desire always lets me think out of the box whenever travelling with my family also and surprisingly they have also started liking the idea of going for a long drive on a motorbike where I drive and my wife becomes the navigator with GPS in hand. I’m chronicling my road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda.

On our last trip to Mahabalipuram after having visited many of the common tourist places, we decided to head to the lesser known places that surely would add value to our trip. The perks of being a blogger are that you tend to start bonding with other bloggers and a shout to them across social media would surely throw in a lot of ideas. My guide for this trip was Rajkumar a fellow blogger from the state who helped me to plan my trip across the state of Tamil Nadu.

Many people have been shocked on hearing that I have gone on a long drive on a motorbike along with my family and I just want to assure them that by just carefully planning you are absolutely safe. Some of the key points that I always ensure on long rides like these are:-

  • Always wear a helmet and also make sure your co-passengers wear helmets that fit perfectly.
  • Plan your fuel consumption and on GPS mark out fuel stations so that you know when to refuel.
  • Carry water and light snack especially if you are travelling with a child.
  • Carry some basic first aid along with you.
  • Inform your relatives back home about your plan and intended route. Inform your hotel also so that they know when to expect you back.
  • Maintain speed limit even if the highway seems empty don’t be tempted to press on the accelerator.
  • Don’t expect others to always follow road rules thus keep a lookout whenever making a turn or changing lanes.
  • Give light/indicator signals as well as hand signals while changing lanes
  • Ask the navigator to warn in advance for any upcoming turn so that you can slow down and make a safe turning.
  • For bike rides, I always wear shades/sunglasses as it not only gives me a clear vision but also helps my eye cope with the constant air and dust that keeps flowing.

Road trips can be fun and be gruelling also thus take them easily and enjoy as it comes, have a destination in your mind but also keep a check on your physical limit, at any time if you feel that it is enough to please do turn back. In this trip, we planned to cover a destination that we skipped at the end as I felt that we have driven long enough and need to return to our base also.

We took off early in the morning at around 7 AM from our hotel in the central tourist district of Mahabalipuram and before heading for the highway we settled in for some morning breakfast. Fresh idli, appam and omelette were the perfect starts for this wonderful day. After filling in petrol we took the East Coast Road and drove straight as most of the important tourist spots were all along this main highway.

Morning Breakfast

The plan was to visit these places:-

– Tiger Cave

– The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology

– Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple

– Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah

– Muttukadu Boat House

– India Sea Shell Museum

Planned Route Map

Tiger Cave

Considered as a part of rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram this is real unique since the main structures are covered with stone carvings of a tiger head. This is one of the temples that is bit far away from the main group of temples in Mahabalipuram. A recent excavation near this site found another buried temple site which is under excavation. This new found temple structure is significant as it solidifies some claim that more such structures exist around Mahabalipuram. I have written a separate detailed blog on Mahabalipuram and you can go through it to know more about the group of temples.

Tiger Cave – Mahabalipuram
Tiger Cave – Mahabalipuram

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology

I have already done a detailed blog about this place and the highlight has to be the snake venom extraction which is demonstrated live in front of the audience. Apart from this as the name suggest this place is crawling with crocodile, alligator and other reptiles. If you have young ones in your team then this place is a must.

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology
Crocodile at The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology
Crocodile at The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology
Russell’s Viper at The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology

Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple

This is a Vishnu temple constructed around 6th – 9th century AD by the Pallava. Even though this temple is under the ASI (Arche logical Survey of India) but still regular pujas are performed thus making this a full functioning temple. Photography inside the temple is restricted thus I could only manage to click the temple from outside.

Considered as one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu and this temple is famous for prayers being offered by people who come to wish for a quick hand in marriage especially for those it’s getting delayed for some reason or the other thus you can see many young boys and girls outside the temple who come here with their parents to pray.

Main Gate – Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple
Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple
Main Gate – Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple
Pillared Tank outside – Nithyakalyana Perumal Temple

Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah

This Dargah has a significance of its own as the person buried here is Tamim ibn Zayd al-Ansari who is said to be one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad. This place is very revered amongst the local population and people from all religious background come to pray at this Dargah.

Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah
Approach from the Main Road – Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah
Main Entrance – Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah
Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah
Hazrath Thameemul Ansari Sahabiye Rasool Dargah

Muttukadu Boat House

The last point on your road trip would be at Muttukadu Boat House, this is basically a boating club built around the backwaters at Muttukadu. During the winter season, this place is full of migratory birds and can be seen in flocks of different species. There are different types of bots that you can hire exclusively or share with other passengers. Come early in the daytime or in the evening to enjoy the boat ride else with the afternoon sun it can become really hot.

Muttukadu Boat House
Muttukadu Boat House
Muttukadu Boat House

India Sea Shell Museum

On our way back to Mahabalipuram we saw a signboard about an India Sea Shell Museum somewhere near the Pancha Rathas thus decided to drop by before heading back to the hotel. When we arrived at the site we saw massive construction, apparently the museum is being expanded but nevertheless, it was functioning. For some reason, I did not want to get in but decided to wait outside while I transfer the photos from my memory card, in the meantime the person responsible for the day to day management of the place came out and personally requested me to take a tour of the place for free. I simply could not refuse the offer but decided to check it out.

The museum is divided into different sections, one that houses different varieties of sea shells from around the world and another section which houses life fish in aquariums. The highlight of the day was, however, fish pedicure which was being offered for just Rs. 50 out here and Smita my wife was the happiest person as for long she wanted to try this out.

India Sea Shell Museum
India Sea Shell Museum
India Sea Shell Museum
India Sea Shell Museum

Overall this route can be a full day trip as it covers many different places and also each of the places does take a time to cover thus plan accordingly. This was the last of the Mahabalipuram series hope to see you soon from somewhere else, till then happy travelling.

At Kovalam beach