Travel

Mahabalipuram, India a Great Stop for Photographers and Tourists

Mahabalipuram which is also known as Mamallapuram is a resort and tourist area on the Bay of Bengal.  Mahabalipuram, which is located about 60km south of Chennai is known for its ancient stone carvings.  Mahabalipuram is also a great stop for photographers.

There are numerous photo opportunities for in Mahabalipuram.  A photographer can easily spend a full day photographing the temples, carvings, and other sights at Mamallapuram.

Shore Temple, Mamallapuram, India

Shore Temple

Here are some of my favorite photography subjects at Mahabalipuram.

Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram

The Shore Temple was built around 700 AD.  The temple got its name from its location overlooking the Bay of Bengal.  There were reportedly 7 shore temples of which this is the only remaining temple.  The other temples are submerged in the Bay of Bengal.

There are many photo compositions at the Shore Temple.  Make sure to take the time to walk around the entire temple.  The temple receives a good amount of visitors, so you’ll need to be patient waiting for people to leave your composition.  Some of my favorite compositions of the Shore Temple are:

  • Using the wall of cows as a leading line to the temple
  • A silhouette of the temple backlit by the sunset
  • The carvings inside the temple
  • Dry stone basin that can be used as leading lines to the temple in the background

There are many more compositions so take your time walking around the temple and grounds.

Walking Along Mamallapuram Beach

Mahabalipuram Beach

Mahabalipuram Beach

The Mahabalipuram Beach is located right next to the Shore Temple.  However, there is no access from the temple to the beach so you’ll need to enter through the beach access.  However if you are in a hurry, you can take some photos of the beach and resort area through the fence around the shore temple.

I would recommend taking some time photographing the beach.  There are:

  • Colorful Beach Houses
  • Jagged Beach shoreline that makes a great leading line
  • Horses and other on animals the beach
  • Large rocks along the beach that can be used in your compositions

Pancha Rathas

There are five monolithic temples or Rathas in the Pancha Rathas park in Mahabalipuram.  Each of the temples is carved out of a single piece of rock and resemble a wooden chariot.  This is an amazing place. It’s hard to comprehend how these structures were carved without modern tools.

There are many compositions to be found here.  Here are some ideas:

  • A single composition of a Ratha with rocks in the foreground
  • Combining Rathas and the other statues (lions, cows, elephants) in a composition
  • Photographing details of the carvings on the Rathas

Mamallapuram Lighthouse, India at Sunset

Mahabalipuram Lighthouse

Mahabalipuram Lighthouse

There is also a lighthouse at Mahabalipuram.  I enjoy photographing lighthouses so I couldn’t miss this opportunity to photograph an Indian lighthouse. 

There is a structure to the west of the lighthouse that can be climbed to position yourself on the same elevation as the lighthouse.  There is also a large rock you can walk out on to get a better composition.

Try photographing the lighthouse in the evening from the large rock mentioned above.  The lighthouse will have a warm color and if the clouds are right you can capture reflections of the sunset in the sky behind the lighthouse.

Tips

  • Chennai can be a very hot and humid location.  Make sure you research the temperature for your visit.  The months of November  thru February have cooler temperatures in Chennai
  • The Photographers Emeritus or PhotoPills are good apps to use to plan the sun and moon rise for compositions.
  • I’ve also been told that the beach area can be unsafe at night so you may want to leave the area by nightfall.

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