India Seashell Museum Mahabalipuram

“There are so many beautiful shells in the bed of the sea that it is simply impossible to collect them all in a lifetime”

If you are anything like me, India Seashell Museum is just the perfect place for you. I love the beautiful shells that I see whenever I take a stroll on a beach. And I do collect some of them, off each of the different beaches that I visit. But, I have always wondered what are the different possible varieties of seashells out there. We get to see only a few that get washed off to the shore. Is there a much vaster range of seashells available for those who dive deep into the sea and explore further? Well, India Seashell Museum just provided me the answer to many of these questions that I had.

India seashell Museum : Things to do in Mahabalipuram
Shell Museum

India Seashell Museum, Mahabalipuram

We visited India Seashell Museum on our trip to Mahabalipuram. After seeing some wonderful UNESCO World Heritage sites that comprised of beautiful temples and amazing carvings, we decided to head to India Seashell Museum before calling it a day. Although I had never visited any seashell collection or museum before. So, I didn’t know what to expect. All I thought was, there will be some nice collection of seashells to look at. Well, there indeed was. But not just some nice collection. India Seashell Museum houses a huge collection of seashells of all possible varieties. In fact, it is the biggest seashell museum in the whole of Asia!! And there is no second to it in India.

History of India Seashell Museum

A seashell enthusiast and lover, K Raja Mohamed, once upon a time, set across to collect seashells from across all the places that he happened to visit. He had a dream. And it was about creating a museum of his own with amazing varieties of seashells collected from across the world. After 33 years of meticulous effort and wonderful zeal, this person actually went ahead and opened a museum. That’s how the India Seashell Museum came into being in the first place. Actually, K Raja Mohamed sold out his family property to build this museum. Finally, the India Seashell Museum was opened to the public in 2013. It all started when K Raja Mohamed made a trip to Sri Lanka in 1980. After that he visited Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, America and several other destinations, collecting different sea shells on his journey.

In total there are some 6000 different varieties of seashell species. And Mohamed managed to capture some 2300 of these. They are proudly on display at India Seashell Museum. However, his quest was still not over. He knew he can’t collect all of them as one lifetime is not enough for it but he just wanted to collect as many more as possible.

Collections in India Seashell Museum

Would you believe it if I were to tell you, that the India Seashell Museum has a collection of over 40000 seashells from across the world? The museum is divided into 4 major sections. Each has a huge gallery that displays a unique collection of shells. I am falling short of words here to describe the amazing collection of seashells that India Seashell Museum has on offer. All I can say is , it took great effort for me to stop staring on one set of collection and move on to the next. And every other shell seemed to be even more beautiful and fascinating than the previous one.

India Seashell Museum

Some look like an elephant’s ear, others look like a mermaid’s dress. And some others are like octopus and others are like tiny coriander seeds. Some shells have right handed pattern on them, which is believed to be very rare. I will let the pictures do the talking, and take you on a walk through some of the beautiful seashells that we saw here.

India Seashell Museum

The above ones are one of my personal favorites with beautiful wing like shape and bright colors. And different possible shades.

Actually, some of the shells made me wonder if someone really goes down there and paints them with so much of patience to get these perfect looks. It is so hard to believe they are naturally so perfectly beautiful. I mean, it is totally impossible to believe such perfection. Things like these make me believe in the wonders of nature. You see same shade and pattern with different colors.

India Seashell Museum

India Seashell Museum

India Seashell Museum

India Seashell Museum

Smallest seashells at India Seashell Museum

We also saw some very huge seashells here. And then we came across the smallest seashell species of the world on display in one of the sections. These looked as small as the coriander seeds.

Indian Seashell Museum
Smallest seashells at display at India Seashell Museum

Story of Pearls

In gallery 3 there is a fascinating section. I must tell you it otherwise looks ordinary, with some pearls on display. But actually, this section displays the story of pearl formation. It explains the three important stages in the formation of a pearl. And you can see some beautiful raw, unpolished pearls on display in this section – real pearls, some inside the shell itself. I had never seen something like this. As we walked past this section, a guide explained to us, a group of enthusiastic tourists, on how the pearls are formed, how they take birth and then take shape inside a shell, and I must admit, it was an interesting story.

India Seashell Museum
Rare species of pearl on display at India Seashell Museum

Artistic items created out of oyster shells

The other unique and fascinating items on display are models of train, plane and car, one placed in each of the galleries. These models are made out of oyster shells and thus exhibit extreme artistic skills of the creator.

India Seashell Museum
A train made of oyster shells at display in India Seashell Museum

Along with the display, the name, species and type of each seashell is also mentioned. But I must say, it is hard to grasp and sync in so much information in one single tour. So, all I did was to sync in the beauty. Hats off to the efforts of K Raja Mohamed. A person whose sheer dedication and zeal gifted the country with such a unique collection. I personally liked the collection of seashells at India Seashell Museum so much. So, I am definitely going to return here with more time at my hands.

How to get to India Seashell Museum

The India Seashell Museum is located just outside the main town of Mahabalipuram, very near to the highway. It is well connected and right on the main road. You can ask a local for the directions. Or, you can conveniently put on the GPS as well. Actually, we used the GPS service and reached here conveniently , without any hassle. Actually, it is located at just 1.5km from Pancha Rathas, another important UNESCO Heritage site and a must see in Mahabalipuram. So, you can conveniently walk down here from the Pancha Rathas as well.

Other attractions at India Seashell Museum


Recently, the India Seashell Museum is being renovated, for the good. While the seashell collection sections stand tall, other attractions are also being developed within the same campus, in order to attract tourists with varying interest. And I must say, it is thoughtful. The other major section that is operational as of now is an aquarium. This aquarium houses a mix of general and rare fish species. While we enjoyed the collection of seashells thoroughly, our little one was little bored here. But next as we entered into the aquarium, she bounced back with her full traveler spirits. She enjoyed a lot looking at the fishes, interacting with them in her virtual world and getting her pictures clicked with the fishes 🙂

India Seashell Museum
Little one enjoying in the aquarium

Fish Pedicure

Just outside the aquarium is a provision for fish pedicure. If you are interested, you can go for it. It is a quick 15 minutes session where you get a fish pedicure of your choice from amongst a list of options. And it costs extra, on top of the general entry ticket to the museum. However, I escaped this part. As I didn’t like the idea of the fishes eating my foot 😀 ( Don’t listen to me this one time, things like these freak me out. However, you might enjoy the pedicure, so give it a try if you want to. )

Seashell & Pearl Shop

There is also a shop inside the India Seashell Museum campus. This shop mostly consists of different type of decor items decorated or made from seashells. For instance, it includes picture frames and mirrors decorated in seashells, some show pieces made out of sea shells, keychains and many other such souvenir kind of items. Also, the shop has real pearls and some jewelry made out of these pearls on offer. Then there are other items made out of stone, wood, and general handicraft. Overall, the shop has a good collection. Although we didn’t buy anything, we did take one round of the shop to see the collections on display and we liked what we saw. The prices seem to be reasonable, so, you can buy something from here if you are looking to carry some souvenir with you.


As we talk, there are more and interesting sections being added to the India Seashell Museum. The founder, K Raja Mohamed, has a dream of taking this museum to international standards. He wants to add a projector room to walk the visitors through the fascinating journey and life of these seashells. And there are other interesting sections being added for the kids and children to enjoy the place even better.

Tips on visiting India Seashell Museum

  • It requires time to absorb the wealth of information at display at the India Seashell Museum. So, I will suggest, do keep apart some time, like, a couple of hours for this place.
  • The museum is open around the week from 8:00am in the morning till 8:00pm in the evening.
  • The tickets can be purchased at the entry gate. And the fee is INR 100 per head and INR 100 for still camera for the museum. There are separate entry tickets for the aquarium and the pedicure section. However, if you are interested, you can buy a combined ticket for all the attractions on a nice discounted price.
  • Most of the attractions are indoor, so, you can visit this place in the afternoon where it is too hot outside and uncomfortable to visit rest of the sites.
  • There are restrooms available but I don’t remember seeing any food outlets so you can carry your own snacks and water.

Indian Seashell Museum. That consists of the largest collection of seashells in Asia. It has over 2300 species of sea shells. And there are 40000 plus sea shells in this museum on display. A must see in Mahabalipuram

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125 Responses

  1. […] The museum also has a small aquarium, recently developed. It contains a small collection of different types of fishes. At the entrance of the aquarium is a fish pedicure which is available at an extra cost of INR 100 for 15 minutes at the time of this writing. There are several other sections being developed in the shell museum for better entertainment of the public. Definitely a place worth visiting. Thanks to Arti who had mentioned about this museum in her blog post and that is from where we came to know about it. Do read about the details of the India Seashell Museum here.  […]

  2. I’ve never come across a seashell museum before. This looks great! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I have myself not heard of many across the world..I guess these are rare museums

  3. K Raja Mohamed’s story is very inspiring. He loved seashells so much he even sold his family property to open the museum. The seashells he’s collected are so lovely, colorful and unique. It took him a long time, but it’s good to see the fruit of his labor.

    • Exactly Gina. He is an example of a real passionate guy and the museum is an example of what your passion can build

  4. Thats some amazing sea shell collection. We missed the visit to the Museum thinking it would be boring. Glad to see such amazing finds and variety of shells

  5. So amazing, didn’t even know there was such a thing as a seashell museum. I would probably feel like a kid going from one window case to another! 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  6. This is so unique. Never heard of a museum dedicated to shells. I hope they add more interesting sections like sandplay etc for kids.

    • They are actually working on other sections that would attract kids, I guess it is going to enhance in the coming years

  7. What a lovely collection! Definitely bookmarking it for when we visit Mahabs!

  8. I’m a diving instructor and there is something extra special about seeing shells in the ocean.

    • Agreed. But you are privileged. People like me, who don’t know diving still want to experience the treasures at the depth of the sea. Thanks to technology that is more and more enabling it

  9. travellingslacker

    A delightful collection. I do visit museums wherever they are available but have not yet come accross one featuring sea creatures, that too in India. I need to go south more often.

    • hmmm.. this is one of its kind in India. So, not surprising if you have not stumbled upon something similar yet

  10. I love shells and I remember picking some whenever I was in the beach when I was little. I used to have a collection of shells I have gathered when my family and I traveled. However, I have outgrown that, sadly. It is my first time to stumble upon a writing about a shell museum and it is interesting! I wonder if my country has something similar.

  11. Well, you learn something new every day! Had no idea there was a museum dedicated to sea shells! But of COURSE there is! What a fascinating find.

  12. I did not know that they had a sea shell museum. I missed it when I went to Mahabalipuram. I also did not know that there are so many varieties of sea shells. Nice photos and I am glad that the little one enjoyed the aquarium.

    • Thanks Soumya. It might be possible that when you went there, this museum was only being setup or not open to public. It’s opened only couple of years back.

  13. This museum looks amazing! One of my good friends dad’s actually has the biggest collection of abalone shells in the world (yes the world he is in the guniess book of records haha) I used to love looking at them all when I went round to their place. This looks equally as incredible the colors and the shapes are always so amazing!!

    • Wow…I would love to have a personal connection of sea shells like these. I love sea shells.

  14. Bethanny Sudibyo

    This seashell museum is an interesting destination. I didn’t know that there was one in India, but then again, it is the largest country in Asia. I really like looking at seashells myself. They have a very bohemian vibe. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit during my travels in India 🙁

    • The museum is no doubt amazing and one of a kind. Maybe you can visit it on your next trip Bethanny

  15. This is something that is truly mind blowing. Sea shells in a bewildering display of variety. I love the way you end your articles with the info. That is so much required.

  16. I love seashells too, so I would really enjoy visiting this museum. That is so neat that a fellow seashell lover made this museum a reality, and even sold his property to create a space for it. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thanks Lara. His story is that of a true enthusiast. He was totally into what he was doing with the sea shells and he made his dream into a reality, no matter what it took for him to achieve that

  17. Oh, how pretty! I love collecting shells on the beach and I love the entire marine life. Shells are so beautiful and can tell so many stories!

  18. That is the most impressive collection of sea shells I’ve ever seen. That looks like an interesting museum to spend the day in. I’m glad that you didn’t get the fish pedicure because those can spread Hepatitis C and HIV.

    • Oh..thanks for the warning. I am not sure what precautions are to be taken before a fish pedicure or what health hazard they might impose. I just keep out of it because of the quirky feeling it gives me 😀

  19. wow looks interesting. never thought there would be a museum for sea shells

  20. Wow I’ve never heard of such a place. What a beautiful collection, its must have been amazing to see in person. Thank you for sharing!

  21. What an interesting place! I always used to collect seashells when I went to the beach 😀 I have a few displayed in a mason jar. haha 😀

  22. This is awesome. I’ve never heard of a seashell museum, but I’ll definitely visit when near Mahabalipuram. The array of colors and shapes are a natural marvel. It’s funny to think that many of these grow in the dark ocean.

    • You are so right..never thought from that angle. Definitely, how colorful they are , growing in the dark

  23. I had been to Mahabalipuram along with Pondicherry and Chennai in 2010. That trip is close to my heart because it was my first solo trip. I did not know that a unique museum of this kind existed there. Would love to see it in my next visit.

  24. This is so so beautiful. Never knew there is something like seashell museum and have such a huge collection of seashells.. I am a die hard fan of pearls and these colors are so attractive. Your post made my day.

    • Thank you so much! Do visit here when you get a chance, you will definitely like what you see

  25. Wow! I did not know that there is seashells museum! Love your pictures and also the introduction to the article! Thanks a lot for sharing and I hope that I can visit this place

    • I wish you all the very best, and hope you will enjoy your visit whenever it happens..

  26. I’ve never been to a shell museum before… I am amazed tehre are quite a lot to see in Mahalipuram’s… The sea shells are indeed precious.. you’ve got very useful insights!

  27. revisfoodography

    Such an amazing museum Neha. Your pics have captured the beauty of the sea shells in the best way possible. I have lived all my life nearby in Chennai and feel ashamed that I haven’t visited this Gem of a Museum.

    • Thanks dear. That often happens with us, travelers. We go far and wide, and sometimes, don’t get time to explore the beauty near our home 🙂

  28. How cool! I’ve never come across a museum for sea shells! It sounds quite magical, as if you’re reliving a dream from childhood. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Wow. this is the first time I read about museums dedicated to shells. i love the shells that looked like hearts as well as those wing-like ones! In Ph, we are prohibited in collecting shells as per environment protection. We just take pictures and return them to the sea (or the sand).

    • Wow..I appreciate that ban actually. Although I myself love collecting shells that are washed off to the shore, it does make sense to leave them to degrade naturally back in the sand.. However, the amount of education this museum brings out about the shells is amazing..

  30. Although I am not a major fan of taking seashells from the ocean (they do serve a purpose there and taking them away really does negatively affect life in our oceans) but it does sound like this museum offers a lot of information and hopefully takes care of our oceans well.

    • I guess most of these shells have been collected from the shores dear , so rest assured. The collector is a travel and seashell enthusiast which has made the collection single handedly!!

  31. I live right near the beach and I’m always seeing shells washed up on the shore. What a great idea to put them in a museum so others can enjoy them too. Thanks for sharing.

  32. A shell museum, wow, I haven’t seen anything like it. To think I came from a tropical country. If we have one here, well, I haven’t discovered it yet. I had fun just looking at the photos, you see I have a thing for museums and art galleries. I love checking them out. So this one I am definitely going to check out when I visit India.

    • You know what Marge. If you love museum, Mahabalipuram is one place for you in India that you will extremely enjoy. There are museums of all sorts here. I am planning to write about a few more..stay tuned 🙂

  33. Fantastic museum, I would have enjoyed it, especially the part with the story of pearls formation. Do you know from which country come those smallest shells?

    • No Elisa, I guess the information that exactly which country each shell comes from is not there. I guess it is for giving the feeling of segregation rather than separation amongst the species of the collection 🙂 Although the biological details of each shell is very well defined

  34. All those shells look so beautiful and diverse. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  35. Wow such a unique museum! I’m impressed by your photos: so many – of course 🙂 – sea shells in different colours, shapes and sizes, beautiful!

  36. Very interesting idea. Something most would never think of. Well New York has both a sex and a math museum, why not a seashell museum in India!

    • Ha ha … what a comparison. Actually Mahabalipuram has some other interesting museums too. Stay tuned for my posts further for the information

  37. Wow I didn’t know that there are 6000 varieties of seashells. And that the museum holds 2300 is quite a lot! I wonder if they can ever collect all of it. Hehe. I always like seeing seashells on the beach.

    • We don’t know so much about the world we live in, isn’t it? That’s one of the primary reasons we love to travel

  38. A seashell museum? Never knew that even excited! In the north of Denmark I see a lot of art with seashell – nature is beautiful! I got a bit amazed by the picture of the “elephant ears”, wau!

    • Nature indeed never seizes to amaze us. It is very beautiful, and full of wonders

  39. Thank you for writing about the museum!
    What a unique idea! But I’d fully expect India, a country so rich in coastline, to have a good selection of amazingly beautiful sea shells. 😉

    Happy continued travels!

    • Thank you! Actually, the museum lies in India but the collection is from all over the world, done personally by the founder

  40. Those are so wonderful…on my recent trip to goa i was wondering to see some big shells on the beach but found only tiny ones… and here I see how big they can actually be…thank for share

    • Thanks Mohit. I guess the species vary from geography to geography , so the size difference as well

  41. That`s amazing!! I have never heard about a Seashell museum before.. and what a cool place to visit. I also like collecting seashells, and would be so nice to go to this museum and check all the variety they have in there. Thanks for sharing!

    • As I said, if you like seashells, you are definitely going to love this place..totally

  42. What an amazing museum! Not something I would have ever imagined seeing but some of those shells look really pretty!

  43. My favourite thing to do while visiting a beach is collecting shells. And strangely enough, I didn’t know that this place existed. I know that people collect shells and all that, however this is quite an impressive collection! I will definitely plan a trip when I’m visiting the area. Excited to try the fish pedicure too!

    • It is so difficult to believe that a single person created this collection..isn’t it?

  44. I love finding odd and quirky places to visit when travelling and this sounds wonderful. The beauty our seas hold should never be taken for granted.

    • Such a beautiful statement. We should not take our nature for granted. We should rather nourish it and love it so it will love us back more and more

  45. I love picking up shells. Just never knew there were so many different varieties!

  46. I’ve always loved collecting shells and I had no idea that somewhere like this existed! I’d love to go and learn more about them and see the unimaginable variety! Love the post. Katie x

    • Thanks Katie. You will definitely love the collection at India Seashell Museum when you happen to visit here in person

  47. Somehow i had never heard of this place until now. Have visited the coral museum in Port Blair, but now i definitely want to check out this sea shell museum as well. The museum is definitely intersting for some one interested in the marine environment.

    • I don’t know about the coral museum in Port Blair. Does it have similar collection of seashells? I loved the collection at Seashell Museum completely. Will highly recommend you to visit when you get a chance

  48. kallsypage

    Ever since I was a kid I’ve been really obsessed with seashells. The main question I keep asking myself is: “WHY DID I NOT KNOW THIS EXISTED?!” This is such a cool place to visit and experience the variety of shells. 🙂

  49. What a cool place to visit! I love that there are museums for everything and that’s what makes it unique to that specific area. The aquarium looks like a lot of fun!

  50. Soraya @ Hello Raya

    I have never heard of a Museum dedicated to Seashells, but what I great idea! Interesting to learn that there are 6,000 varieties of seashells…of which 2,300 can be found in this museum. The way that a pearl forms, sounds so interesting. I’d love to learn about it!

    • You will definitely like the museum then. When you travel to India you can make provision to visit here

  51. Oh wow I had never heard of this museum before but I loooooove finding unique shells and am always disappointed if I’m not allowed or able to take them with me, so it’s safe to say that this museum would be a great one for me to go to. Really hope I get the chance to do so later this year or next year. Thanks for sharing!

  52. Seashells are so beautiful! I love to walk along the beaches and look at them. When I was little I used to collect them with my grandmother.

  53. Looks like they have an great collection. I would love to see it someday!

  54. I’m glad I’d educate myself enough on the India Seashell Museum at Mahabalipuram and also knowing that it is the biggest seashell museum in the whole of Asia, quite impressive! Thanks for sharing this!

  55. This is a very informative tour! The underwater world is so diverse. I really liked the Nautilus shell at the entrance to the museum. Very big!

  56. Wow, I’ve never heard of a seashell museum! That must be impressive to see.

  57. What a fabulous museum. As someone who lives on the ocean, I marvel at all the different shells that wash up on our shores. It’s incredible whats out there in the sea 🙂

    • So right. There is so much there in the depth of the seas. Glad this museum brings some out to us

  58. Such a cool museum. Would love to go there one day.

  59. This looks like a great place to visit! Me and one of my best friends have a thing that I bring her back a seashell from every place I visit. She now has a huge seashell collection in her bathroom!

    • Thats such a cool gift! Even we love collecting sea shells where ever we go. But never found ones as beautiful as these

  60. What a cool museum! Some of those seashells are AMAZING. I also love collecting shells while traveling. I have a jar full of shells from all around the world.

    • Then you must once visit this museum. You will be amazed to see the collection in person

  61. Lisa (Simple Sojourner)

    Wow! What a cool idea for a museum. Very unique and I would love to visit there, I do love seashells. Oh, to actually find a pearl. Will pin for later and share for now.

    • Thanks Lisa. Definitely a place worth a visit with such a wonderful collection

  62. wow, i didn’t know there was such thing as a seashell museum, how cool! i love the beach, so i feel like i would like this…

  63. A whole museum just for seashells!!?!? How cool. I love the pearls. Could you imagine finding one in real life?

    • Only those who dive deep into the sea find the pearls 🙂 So, I won’t have found one in real life for sure. Thanks to the museum, I got to see one and venture through the journey of it’s life without diving into the waters

  64. I never knew that there was an entire museum dedicated to sea shells. The sheer variety of sea shells on display is mind boggling. What treasures the sea uncovers!

    • One of a kind in India and the largest in Asia..this museum is really very unique and houses a beautiful collection

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