Chennai-Mahabalipuram-ECR-places to visit- Optimized day plan! - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Chennai-Mahabalipuram-ECR-places to visit- Optimized day plan!

Despite staying in Chennai for several years, I realize that I’ve not written about exploring places of attraction around ECR. Many who visit to Chennai wish to do a half day/full day tour from Chennai to Mahabalipuram, stopping at various places of interest enroute. If you’ve to do a one day Mahabalipuram trip, what would be the most optimal way of doing it? How to make the most of your trip without wasting time or missing anything of importance? Here’s a plan for you. Of course you may wish to skip few of these as every attraction won’t be of interest to every individual and time you have at disposal can limit how much you can explore.

Without wasting more time, let us directly jump into the plan

Early morning-Mahabalipuram local
Key tourist places in Mahabalipuram- Shore temple and 5 rathas open as early as 6 AM. If you can start very early, my suggestion would be to leave from your home/hotel by 4.30-5 AM and reach Mahabalipuram by 6 AM. If this is not possible, then you can still start at a later time- say 8 AM but you will have to spend more time in traffic + will have to skip some of the attractions given in below list as you will have less time. Customize as per your preference.
Going very early also means less crowd.
4.30-5 AM
Start from home/hotel in Chennai
Travel time 40-60mins early morning depending on place of start
6 AM
Reach Mahabalipuram
Drive to Shore temple
Five Rathas and Shore temple open at 6 AM
6 to 6.45 AM
Enjoy sunrise by the beach, try catamaran ride if available, buy ticket n explore Shore temple
Same ticket for both Shore temple n Five Rathas
Drive to Five Rathas

7 to 7.30 AM
Explore Five Rathas
Mahabalipuram local places of interest-map link
7.30-8 AM
Relax around Sri Krishna’s butter ball

8-8.30 AM
Breakfast as per budget n preference
Roadside stalls/ A2B/ Hotel Mammala/
8.30-9.30 AM
Visit Sea Shells Museum
Opens 8/8.30 AM
Detailed review here
9.30-10 AM
Climb the rocks near Mahabalipuram light house, enjoy the view or shop for stone artefacts/sea shells ornaments at just opened shops

Climb up the Mahabalipuram Light House
10 AM to 1 PM
3 PM to 5 PM

10.30-11 AM
Leave from Mahabalipuram, Return towards Chennai

Places to visit/explore while returning from Mahabalipuram
Next, there’re many places of interest along the east coast road. Most open around 9-10 AM, so perfect to stop by on your return journey. Depending on time and interest you can skip few of these.

11-11.30 AM
Stop at Tiger Cave, Explore, Relax

Try offroad ATV rides at Polaris
Rs 400 for 1 lap
12.30-1 PM
Stop by at Jain temple on the left to ECR
Sri Munisuvratswami Jain Navagraha temple
1-2 PM
Brunch/Lunch at Intercontinental Chennai ECR or Any decent restaurants off ECR as per budget n preference
2-3 PM
Adventure activities at Wild Tribe Ranch
Detailed review here- all activities take at least half a day- An hour lets you try a few most interesting activities
3-3.30 PM
Stop at Crocodile Bank if interested
Can be skipped if short of time
3.45-5 PM
Dakshin Chitra
Gives a feel of Kerala, Karnataka, TN and Andhra culture

Alternatively, visit Kovalam beach or try boat ride at Muthukadu or pre-book para motoring adventure [Details]

Now that it is beyond 5 PM, most attractions will be nearing closing time. However you can still explore the following:

Other attractions to consider (if you've time or if you wish to skip some of the above). Check my detailed post on each of them
Dinner (Many restaurants near ISKCON or try Robot Restaurant on OMR) and back to home/hotel

Full day attractions on ECR:
If you're looking to spend a full day in same place, you've below options
1. VGP Beach resort + Snow Kingdom
2. MGM Dizee world
3. Wild Tribe Ranch

Did I miss anything? Do share your thoughts and feedbacks.
This post focuses purely on attractions located on ECR between Chennai and Mahabalipuram. For comprehensive list of weekend attractions from Chennai, do check this post.


  1. Fabulous! If I should visit again I hope I remember your blog and the detailed plan you have made.

  2. Thanks. Do google or buzz me on social media if you're unable to recall or if you need any help

  3. Long back , I had visited Mahabalipuram. Planning to visit it again. This post would help me.

    1. Sure. We can also meet in Chennai if you're free n interested. Have nice trip.

  4. I've been wanting to see Dakshinachitra. Didn't work out last time. :(

  5. Chennai is easily accessible from other parts of India and there are frequent buses, trains and flights to reach the place. So this is a desirable place of tourists for decades.

  6. Very helpful post. Wish to visit Mahabalipuram in the year end of 2020, if Almighty blessed us all.


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