One of our favourite places to travel with kids in the South India is Mahabalipuram (aka Mahabs). We love staying at the GRT Temple Bay Resort there. Have done that twice already. Btw, Chenani folks are lucky. They can even go there just for the day and have lunch there. I think they also have day packages, where you can avail of the swimming pool and other facilities along with lunch.
Some quick context:
We traveled by road from Bangalore (330 kms and it took us around 7 hours). We started early morning at 6 am and were there for lunch. Leave early. We took Hosur road, Kancheepuram, Vellore route...
It is around 1-2 hours from Chennai (I think?)
Here is why Mahabalipuram and GRT are special to us
- Mahabs is a lovely mix of sea and culture (amazing 7th century carvings, temples, architecture)
- Cannot beat the GRT location. Cottages right on the ocean and amazing view of the Shore Temple (UNESCO world heritage site). Very unique. Even though a km or so near the shore temple, it is very quiet and nice.
- Even though the beach is not exactly Hawaii, there are amazing seashells.The kids spend hours just collecting those and getting them home.
- The cottages are right on the ocean. Ask for the cottages 25-30 (Please double-check and ask for closest to the ocean). Also, once you reach, walk with them and select if you are picky about being close to the ocean.
- They have a wonderful pool. One of those infinity pools, it seems to merge into the ocean---into the infinity.... ;-) So you stand on the edge watching the ocean and the shore temple. Feels sublime.
- We love the monuments and the amazing sculptures. The kids loved seeing the many sculptors (you can tour the workshops) at work with chisels and hammers and making some intricate statues out of hard granite.
- Good food at GRT
- Even though it is expy. Because of above attractions, we feel worth it. It is definitely better value than say the Taj (cottages smack near the ocean and view of Shore temple that Taj does not and Taj is also much more expy)
- GRT also has a pretty good kid center. I remember once we left the kids there and napped in the afternoon. They have some activities and games for kids outside as well. I remember seeing some big outdoor board games...very interesting.
- GRT also has packages
- As part of this package or even extra, you can take a ride of the sea in the fisherman’s boat. Make sure the sea is not rough. If you go at the right time, you can see the part of the Shore temple that is submerged in the ocean (the world came to know about this during the Tsunami when the waters receded far into the sea and the temples were visible)If you want more action, you can tour Dakshin Chitra (recreation of south Indian villages) and the crocodile farm or even Chennai from there (within an hour)
- It is warm in Mahabs but after 3 pm it gets cooler.
- Tip: Early morning to Shore temple when less crowds, admire sunrise, come back for breakfast, then little sightseeing, then pool and lunch, nap and hit the ocean.
So, after a dip in the infinity pool, as you gaze at the Shore temple, the ocean, have good khaana, kids are busy making sand castles and collecting seashells, you say, “Ahhh life is good...” ;-)
Infinity pool seems to merge in sea
View of sea and Shore temple in background from cottage itself
Arjuna's penance (7th century intricate carving)