Lighthouse Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram

Lighthouse Heritage Museum is one of the most recent additions to the awesome list of places to visit and things to do in Mahabalipuram. And, it is fairly new creation also. Lighthouse Heritage Museum opened to the public in January , 2014. So, when we took a trip to Mahabalipuram in year end 2016, we visited the Lighthouse Heritage Museum as well. And believe me, it was such an exciting journey. So, here I take you through the journey of Lighthouse Heritage Museum with me.

Collection of the Lighthouse Heritage Museum

Lighthouse Heritage Museum
A model of the lighthouse in Lighthouse Heritage Museum

As the name suggests, the Lighthouse Heritage Museum consists of the heritage from the old lighthouse of Mahabalipuram. It consists of many important and interesting equipments that were once a part of the working lighthouse. It was very interesting to go through each of these, reading their description and then figuring out how they were once fully operational inside the lighthouse. Actually, the walk through Lighthouse Heritage Museum is almost like seeing the lighthouse come alive!! Here are some beautiful things out of the huge collection that Lighthouse Heritage Museum houses.

Old Lamps

Lighthouse Heritage Museum
The old lamps at display at the lighthouse heritage museum, Mahabalipuram

The Lighthouse Heritage Museum houses several old lamps. Each of these lamps were used at some point for the lighthouse operations. As time progressed, the lamps kept changing. Some were replaced due to breakdown. Some others were replaced by their superior counterparts over a period of time. Overall, in it’s lifetime, the lighthouse saw several different lamps from manually operated to the electric operated ones. And all of them are housed in this Lighthouse Heritage Museum.

Light house Model

There is a small model of the lighthouse placed on exhibit at the center of the museum. Also, there is a picture of the lighthouse in the museum. It is from the days when the lighthouse was actually operational. The model is also very beautiful and reminds one of the old days when the lighthouse was actually used for guarding the ships that came in and out of Mahabalipuram coast for trade and other purposes.

Lighthouse internal operation Model

Right in the center of the Lighthouse Heritage Museum lies a huge operational model of the top floor of the lighthouse. This is where the rotational device was placed. The lamp was mounted in the center of the rotational device. And that is how the lighthouse used to operate. There are stairs which you can use to go to the first floor and then look closely on the mechanism of operation involved. Also, you can read about it in the description of the model.

Lighthouse Heritage Museum
Internal operation model of the lighthouse

Other equipments

There are many other equipments like old hand held devices, flash lights, clock and other such things that were used in the old times inside the lighthouse. These are all a part of the Lighthouse Heritage Museum now. It is very interesting to go through them and see how things used to work in the ancient time when the sophisticated devices that we are so used to in the current era were not even present.

Lighthouse show

For the general awareness of people and also to get younger generation more interested, the Lighthouse Heritage Museum conducts a sound and light show couple of times inside the museum premises. This is a projector movie that takes you through the journey of the lighthouse. It shows how the lighthouse used to operate, how the ships used to get guided by the lights from the lighthouse. Also, the movie lets you comprehend what was the significance and overall modus operandi for the light house in that era. It is a very interesting movie.

We were very much interested in staying back for the movie, as the show timing was not exactly matching our visit timing. But due to lack of time, we couldn’t stay for that long. I will highly recommend you enquire about the show timing and match your visit with it. I am sure you will have a wonderful time. This is a very informative section as well, particularly if you have kids whom you will want to see learning something useful on the trip.

How to reach the Lighthouse Heritage Museum

Here’s the good news. The Lighthouse Heritage Museum is situated just besides the Mahabalipuram lighthouse. It is situated inside a beautiful campus that also houses another museum, the Maritime Heritage Museum. And the campus has entry gates both near the lighthouse and also near Arjuna’s Penance. So, it is walkable from both the places and can be entered from either side. However, the entry tickets counter is near the gate towards the lighthouse. So, better to enter from there.

Overall, we had a wonderful time visiting this museum. it is not very big, but it is full of information. At least I hardly knew anything about the internal mechanism of lighthouses before I went to this museum. So, I will highly recommend visiting here to you all. Also, looks like since the place is very recently opened, not everyone knows about it. Because of this, the crowd is very less. When we entered the museum, there were hardly one or two people except us there. That made for a wonderful offbeat site where we could leisurely explore the insides of the museum at our own pace.

General tips on visiting the Lighthouse Heritage Museum

  1. There is a nominal entry fee that can be purchased at the entry gate near the Mahabalipuram Lighthouse. Actually, it is a combined ticket for both Lighthouse Heritage Museum and Maritime Heritage Museum.
  2. The museum is open 10am to 5:30pm in the evening. All through the week.
  3. It is very conveniently located just besides the Mahabalipuram Lighthouse or even Krishna’s butterball and Arjuna’s Penance.
  4. While visiting the Lighthouse Heritage Museum, for once, you need not worry about the hot and humid Mahabalipuram climate because it is all indoors that you have to walk.
  5. Shoes are not allowed inside the museum to prevent dust and dirt. So, you will need to take off your shoes before entering inside. There are no shoe counters. You can leave your shoes on the footsteps of the museum.
  6. Half an hour to forty minutes is sufficient to take a full round of the museum covering everything that it has on offer. Since, it is a small museum, but it does have a wealth of knowledge inside it.
  7. Camera is allowed. But there is a fee. So, don’t forget to take your camera tickets in case you are interested in clicking a few nice pics.

Lighthouse Heritage Museum in Mahabalipuram that takes you on a trip to the lighthouse that was once operational. Amongst other things, it exhibits the old lamps, mechanical systems and clocks that were used to operate the lighthouse


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63 Responses

  1. Those lamps look magical. Even though it just opened last 2014, it looks ancestral.

  2. I have never heard about a lighthouse museum before but it seems like an interesting experience! It must have an amazing view from the top and a romantic flair to it I imagine?

  3. So cool! One of my favorite songs is about a lighthouse. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’ve always been fond of lighthouses and your photo looks like a scene from the Disney movie, Peter’s Dragon. Have you seen it? I like learning about the history and the fact each model has a description of its uses are fascinating!

    • I haven’t seen the movie Gina, but I will definitely love to. The museum is indeed one of a kind

  5. I have a friend who is obsessed with lighthouses! I gotta tell her about this. great and informative post!

  6. It is good to see that they have maintained it well. The lighthouse gives some amazing views of the sea. Glad you managed to get there.

    • Thanks Ami. We didn’t climb all the way up the lighthouse since there was a long queue, but we did get some amazing insights in the museum

  7. i must visit this site. i am in india but never heared about this

    • In that case, do plan a trip out. you can as well cover Pondicherry which is quiet nearby

  8. Would love to visit this museum! I’ve grown up in a small town with a light house and many neighbouring towns also have one. The museum would be fascinating to visit and relive the history. The show also sound equally fab! Thanks for sharing.
    Kristie (you.theworld.wandering)

    • We wish you all the best and hope you will enjoy your visit to the museum as much as we did, whenever it happens

  9. I was in Mahabalipuram last month and visited the light house but somehow missed the museum. I now recall we were in a hurry and my wife is always disinterested in any type of museum so we skipped it. But from your blog it feels like it was a mistake skipping it. It gives a good insight on how lighthouses work and the history associated with it. Thanks for sharing it.

    • is a very small museum, 15 minutes would have been sufficient to go through it. Anyways, there’s always a next time

  10. This sounds like a really cool museum! I’m from the north east coast of the United States so I grew up near many lighthouses and always found them beautiful! Seeking out lighthouses when I travel has always been something I do, so I will have to add this to my list 🙂

    • Definitely Kassie..can understand your passion and love for lighthouses. Do visit when you happen to be in Mahabalipuram

  11. I don’t know what it is about lighthouses, I love them! Loved seeing all the lamps. This looks like a great little tour.

    • I guess it’s the mysterious aura, the beautiful views, the breeze that make the lighthouses so special for me

  12. Lighthouses are such incredible structures. The original purpose of them is still relevant today and I just love how this museum features the history of this purpose. I will definitely consider this if in the area!

  13. Is the Mahabalipuram lighthouse still operational and if not, are we allowed inside the lighthouse too? I missed this place when I went to Mahabalipuram and I would have loved to see this place. Interesting set of old lamps that were once used.

    • The original lighthouse stands just besides the museum Soumya. It is not operational anymore. But you can climb it’s stairs and go to the top where there is a balcony around the lighthouse to enjoy the breathtaking views of Mamallapuram all the way till the ocean

  14. That is a good piece of history. Would love to get the view from the top.

    • Rightly said. There is a long queue though to reach till the top, need to figure out an “off-peak” time

  15. Loving your Mahabs experiences! My husband’s been talking about it forever (he used to live in Chennai) and I can’t wait to visit!

    • I wish you all the very best for your trip and hope you will enjoy it as much as we did

  16. I have never visited this museum before and may not have a chance as I am in the UK but such a great review posted by you here allow me to have a deeper knowledge about this museum, thank you.

    • Thanks ! At least now you know a museum like this exists and you can tell friends and family about it, those who are going to visit this area

  17. That seems to be an interesting museum. The good thing is obviously that it is not just a building containing exhibits – the building itself is the exhibition. Lighthouses have something fascinating since they are for me personally a symbol of hope and humanity. Would be great to visit this place once by myself.

    • Definitely, lighthouses have something fascinating about them. They attract us human like magnets for iron 🙂

  18. Lighthouses have always incited my curiosity. All of these photos that you’ve shown are incredible. I would love to explore a lighthouse myself someday.

  19. I have been to Mahabalipuram now called Mammallapuram. The lighthouse there intrigued me. I did not know they have a museum dedicated for the same. Will make sure I visit it when I am there next.

    • It’s newly opened, couple of years back. So, very much possible when you visited, the lighthouse museum was not there

  20. I love lighthouses. This museum sounds great. I’d love to climb up and enjoy the 360 views.

    • I am sure you will enjoy the views from the lighthouse that lies just besides the museum

  21. traciehowe

    I love seeing the inside of lighthouses! What a bonus that this one offers a museum as well.

  22. I have a great fascination for lighthouses. I think something to do with the adventure books read as a kid which had featured, ships, storms and lighthouses. Lighthouses have an aura of romance, always try to visit a lighthouse if I come to know about it. The museum is really fascinating.

    • Are you talking about the “Famous five” kind of books. Definitely, I clearly remember the descriptions of the privately owned light houses, islands and the secret caves and passages… and all 🙂

  23. This sounds awesome! I would love to see all these old lamps that were used and the movie sounds pretty great too! What else is around there to do?

  24. Lighthouses fascinate me. They are usually tied up to the history of a place and some lighthouses can endure for centuries! If I ever get to visit Mahabalipuram, this would be in my itinerary!! So interesting!

    • Definitely, they have a lure about them which attracts us visitors like anything

  25. What an interesting collection. It would have been a great tour as well. I’d never have though about going to a light house museum.

  26. I love museums and I adore lighthouses! This looks like such a unique collection of equipment. I’d love to visit it someday!

  27. This is very cool. I’d love to visit a lighthouse museum. I live in New England (America) and there are lighthouses everywhere here but I know nothing about them. I like how they kept the lights even after replacing them!

    • If you like lighthouses and you are interested to hear the stories behind them, then you should definitely visit here when you get a chance

  28. Wasn’t aware of it but from the photos it looks well kept (an issue at home sometimes). The model looks really good but the lamps I bet are the main attraction as is the operational model. Not a fan of a separate camera ticket but again that’s something quite common across the country as well.

    • Indeed the lamps looked so mesmerizing and so did the model and operational equipments of the lighthouse 🙂

  29. I love such places that let peek in past…all the old devices etc 🙂 I went to Mahabalipuram but had no clue such a museum existed. Thanks for sharing….are there any special tickets if you want to low light photography equipment?

    • Thank you! There is only camera tickets and video cam tickets defined at the counter. Nothing apart from that. When you visited, it might be possible that the museums didn’t exist

  30. I’ve got a bit of an obsession with lighthouses myself, so this museum looks mighty cool. I love those old oil lamps! They’re so detailed. It’d be cool to see firsthand just how far lighthouse technology has come over the years.

    • If it interests you, then the informative posts besides each lamp would excite you further. They tell in details about the period when the lamp was operational, it’s technicalities and it’s operation mechanism

  31. Wow! Quite Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  32. I usually find these sorts of museums much more interesting than Sarah.

    Is it possible to climb or enter the actual lighthouse itself?

    • Yes, very much Chris. You can climb till the top of the lighthouse and see the amazing views around from there. Although if you are traveling in peak season, just be ready to bear with a huge crowd and a queue..just like the Eiffel Tower

  33. There is something so romantic about lighthouses. The equipment you have pictured is quite beautiful. Sounds like an interesting tour

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