Maritime Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram

On our recent visit to Mahabalipuram, we visited the Maritime Heritage Museum. We visited here along with Lighthouse Heritage Museum and other top places to see in Mahabalipuram. Maritime Heritage Museum is a small and cute museum. In fact, it is just like Lighthouse Heritage Museum. And it also stands adjacent to the later, within the same campus. You can even buy combined ticket to both of these museums at the entrance to the campus.

As the name suggests, the Maritime Heritage Museum houses models of different marine heritages. These include ancient ships and the first ships that ever reached the coast of Mamallapuram. And these also include the models of routes that they took.

Maritime Heritage Muesum Mahabalipuram
Models of ships and anchors displayed from different era at Maritime Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram

History of Maritime Heritage Museum

The Maritime Heritage Museum is actually a very recent addition to the tourist attractions of Mahabalipuram. As it’s construction was started in the year 2013. And it took approximately two years for the whole museum to be completed. Thus, the construction got completed sometimes in 2015 . And thereafter the museum opened for tourists and viewers. Initially, the submarine ex – Vagli was towed from Vishakhapatnam to the coast of Mamallapuram. The intention was to convert it into the Maritime Heritage Museum. But that part of work was still not accomplished at the time of our visit.

The vision of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation along with the Government of Tamil Nadu, is to develop a full fledged museum. And to include in this museum facilities like audio-visuals, food court, souvenir shops and aquarium. Overall, there are two major purposes to this museum. 1) To attract tourists. 2) To get the youth population interested in marine and naval technologies. ( By arousing their interest to join the navy 🙂 )

Our visit to Maritime Heritage Museum

We took a combined ticket to Maritime Heritage Museum and Lighthouse Heritage Museum. As we reached here after visiting many other sites of Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram). Thus, the shade inside the museum was a welcome relief from the sun outside. Although it is a small museum, it exhibits many interesting pieces. These pieces involve marine and naval technologies. Let us take you through some of these.

Models of ships

As we entered inside, we took a left. Subsequently, we crossed some beautiful models of ships. These include the titanic, the first ships to arrive at the coast of India for trade purpose and some very ancient ships which rather looked like a big boat. Walking through these models we realized how much advancement mankind has achieved in terms of the naval technologies. The models are very intricately made so that they resemble the actual ships very closely. And each one is displayed in a glass case, along with it’s name. These include wooden ships, steam operated ships and diesel operated ships.

Submarine Simulator

After crossing some models of ships, we arrived at a small room that has a full dummy control panel of a submarine. All the gears and switches are neatly arranged here , in front of a dummy screen. And each one is properly explained , along with it’s name. One can actually touch, feel, read them and get the full knowledge of how the ships are actually operated. For a while, we really felt like captains standing in front of our own ship’s control panel and ready to take the control. And we have to agree, it really aroused our interest in the navy and marine world.

Maritime Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram
The submarine simulator at Mahabalipuram

The silk route

After spending some time in front of the dummy control Panel, next we proceeded out of it to the next section. Here, the famous trading silk route is on display in a frame. The silk route was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the ancient Asian countries from China in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west. The name of the route is derived from the trade of Chinese silk that was done on this route. The route opened space for not just trade but long distance cultural interaction between different civilizations on the route.

Maritime Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram
The famous silk route used for trading in ancient past

Other items on display

Apart from the above, the museum has certain other items on display. These include very old boats. Including some of the first ones invented by mankind. And then some ancient anchors used in ships and boats. Also, there are some models of airplanes included. These are also the ancient ones, displayed from inside glass cabinets.

Our Verdict after visiting Maritime Heritage Museum

We spent some half and our to forty minutes inside this museum. And we found it pretty interesting. Since, it was the first museum of this type that we have ever visited. So, we didn’t have any prior expectations built up. And we guess, that was one of the reasons we fairly enjoyed our visit. Although it is a very small museum, yet it has some very interesting models from the naval and air world. And we felt it serves it’s purpose of arousing the common men’s interest in the naval world.

Apart from that, the museum really holds on display some very interesting model and some beautiful simulators. So, we strongly recommend to visit it. Since, the fee is also very reasonable. And it gives us an excuse to beat the afternoon heat of Mahabalipuram. So, there is no reason why we can’t visit or shouldn’t visit here.

The Maritime Heritage Museum and Lighthouse museum are both very recent additions to the heritage museums of Mahabalipuram. And thus many don’t know about these. Those who went to Mahabalipuram before these museums were open to public. And also those who went recently but were not acquainted with these. Thus, we will like to recommend a visit to this small and informative museum, when you happen to be in Mahabalipuram.

General Tips on Visiting the Maritime Heritage Museum

  • The Maritime Heritage Museum shares the same campus with Lighthouse Heritage Museum. And there is a combined ticket available at the counter near the entrance. Thus, you can take that ticket and visit both the museums together.
  • You have to leave your shoes outside while entering the museum. We guess it helps keep the insides clean. Although there is no proper shoe counter. But, we didn’t have any issues with leaving our shoes on the entrance stairs and visiting inside.
  • We recommend visiting here in the afternoon. When it gets more hot outside. Since, the whole campus is very green with lots of trees. And it is cool inside the museum, it gives a respite from the heat.
  • The museum is open from morning 9:30 am to evening 5:30 pm.
  • The museum stands right besides the ancient light house of Mahabalipuram. And it is also located at walk-able distance from the cave temples and krishna’s butterball. You can ask any local for the directions.
  • The best time to visit Mahabalipuram in general is winter season from November to February.
  • You can get to Krishna’s butterball from anywhere using an auto or bus or a hired taxi. And then from there, you can walk down to almost all the heritages, museums and temples that you want to visit. This includes the Maritime Heritage Museum as well.

Maritime Heritage Museum Mahabalipuram. One of the must visit places when in Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram India

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82 Responses

  1. Wonderful history, sounds great! Sub simulator wound so much fun. Thank you for sharing

  2. This Museum looks fun. I particularly like to submarine simulator – such things improve the experience we can have as visitors 🙂

    • Have got to agree. It was the most fun and thrilling part of the museum

  3. I remember this one from my earlier visits, but it was not so well maintained. Glad that they have got around to doing this . Well covered

    • Thanks Ami. Its really nice to see government is taking these initiatives to encourage visits to these places

  4. Whoah! I never heard about maritime heritage museum, ever! And glad that you made it featured here. It’s something every country should have. It gives the people the privilege to understand how such thing works and how simply amazing people are in the past and even up to now.

    • Thanks Zwitsy. We liked the place and we love to share info of such places with rest of the traveler community

  5. I really enjoy visiting museums and this one looks like fun. I’d love to see that submarine exhibit.

  6. I’m hoping to do an overland journey on the silk route so this part of the post really interested me. I’m not sure it’s possible with all the visa requirements though. It’s interesting to read about what it was originally used for.

    • If you want to, you can dig into further details on the countries you will land up in while following this route. Then you can plan to apply for VISA for those countries based on your travel plan. Go ahead..we will wait to hear about your experience

  7. Looks so interesting, I would definitely make sure I keep time to visit here when I go one day! I found all things sea-related fascinating!

  8. I love how you always shine light on the “lesser known” attractions in India. To some extent, I guess you could call me a museum junkie – absolutely love them as a wealth of knowledge. Nice tip about visiting in the afternoon! Sounds like an ideal escape from the sun for a couple of hours.

    That’s interesting that you need to remove your shoes! I don’t think I’ve had to remove my shoes for a museum before.

    • Thanks Caroline. I guess the removing shoes part is to ease on the maintenance thats why :).

  9. Maritime Heritage Museum looks like a must visit place. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  10. Mahabalipuram is a historically rich city with its magnificent ancient art and architecture. And this heritage museum displays another side of this historic city. I would like to visit here.

  11. The Maritime Heritage Museum and Lighthouse museum sounds so interesting! The place looks like it offers a great array of simulators and boat models. I find submarines so interesting and would love to learn more about it!

    • If you find submarines interesting, you are definitely going to like this museum

  12. I love maritime museums! This one looked small but nice. You should check out the one in Venice if you ever get the chance, it’s amazing!

    • Point noted Alice. Actually I am planning to go to Venice, will check that one out

  13. This looks like a great place to visit. We have visited the Maritime Museum in San Francisco and Stockholm and enjoyed them a lot. Really interesting stories and items there.

  14. I’ve always lived by the sea so I have a fascination for its history. I’d love a browse around this museum!

  15. I actually prefer small and cute museum. I love that submarine simulator though. Would love to try that.

  16. What a great museum! That submarine simulator looks really cool. I don’t know much about the silk route, so it’s very interesting to see on that map.

    • Silk route has been one of the most important paths taken in the past for trading. Hope you got some insight on it through the post

  17. I had the opportunity to go down in a real submarine over my honeymoon. We saw coral reefs, a sunken ship, and a huge drop-off. I’ve never had a huge interest in ships, but that definitely was a life-changing experience. Thanks for sharing; that looks like an awesome museum!

  18. This is a great day out idea. I must do that with my little girl one day as she loves anything to do with sea.

    • Then she is definitely going to have fun in this museum. And she will also learn a few things

  19. i’m not good at going to museums when I travel. You inspired me to be a little more open to them, and they would be perfect for rainy days. Thay simulator seems like a lot of fun.

    • Thanks Ashley. Hope you will enjoy your next visit to a museum now 🙂

  20. What a cool museum to visit. Sounds like a place where you can gain a lot of valuable information. I love to learn new things. Would be a lot of fun for me.

    • Definitely the museum has quiet some things for all of us to learn

  21. I would like to go to Maritime Heritage Museum and also the lighthouse museum as well. I think my favorite thing would be learning about the submarines! I am at least in museums like this for an hour, although I could spend more time.

    • Seems like you love these kind of museums. Do visit them when you are in the area

  22. Nice! I love nautical museums! Have yet to see one with a submarine simulator though!

  23. it looks exquisite, i will really like to try the simulator. Thanks for sharing.

  24. The museum is really fascinating. Love lighthouses and ships and hence find this a great place. The silk route is another source of great fascination. Will definitely visit this museum when we get to Mahabalipuram next.

  25. I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to go on a submarine. I like how the museum offers a simulation and you can feel like the captain of your own voyage. I’d also like to take a look at the old boats on display.

    • Sure you do. All these are so fascinating. For a while we felt like totally being transferred to the naval world.

  26. Museums are always fun to visit. I haven’t been to a maritime museum before and this looks so interesting! I will keep this attraction in mind if I ever make a trip to India.

  27. Looks like you had an interesting time.

    Is it cheaper to purchase a combined ticket for the museum and the lighthouse, or is it the only option available (does the entrance fee simply include both)?

    • The entrance fee can be separately purchased as well. Combined definitely carries a better discount

  28. emmaeatsandexplores

    Ships and the sea fascinate me! I’m never happier than when I’m on a boat on the water so this would be an amazing trip for me. Would love to learn more about the submarines too!

  29. wow , this museum is amazing. i love all the pictures . I hope one day to visit it myself

  30. Must be exciting and amazing having to visit and learn a bit of history. Great tips you shared. I’m sure to take a note of it when I have the chance to visit the place.

    • Thanks Jen. You can connect to me when you visit the place, for more info, in case you require some

  31. This looks like one of those places that you dont realise how interesting it is until you take the time to visit. Would love to try out the submarine simulator!

  32. Wow, a submarine simulator! What a cool attraction to have in a museum. Looks like a great experience. Plus smaller museums always feel much more personal!

    • Thats absolutely right – smaller, less crowded places always feel closer to home and comfortable to visit

  33. I think you are doing a great job focusing on museums. People nowadays don’t take museums seriously and I have seen tourists skipping museums for other recreations. But these are so important preserving the history, culture and there’s so much to know out there, even about the daily things we do. Keep it up.

    • Thanks dear! And it is so true what you said. Preserving the history and culture in the museums is so important. And it is such a great learning medium for the kids

  34. It is rare for me to see museum for ship. They look good. But the most important thing I guess is their history for an added knowledge.

  35. My husband works in the maritime industry so we always end up going to maritime museums around the world. I will keep this one in mind if we get to the area when we are in India later in the year. Thank you.

    • Wow, that’s really interesting. You must have such a wonderful knowledge about the naval world by now

  36. lydia@lifeuntraveled

    Great initiative on the government’s part! I would be curious to know how many (if any) people would join the marine following a visit to the Maritime Heritage Museum.

    • Driving such a stat would be really difficult. Not sure if we will ever be able to get this information

  37. Wow looks like you had a great Time I would love to visit the maritime museum. I love boats and such

    Stacey ~

  38. Looks like a lot of fun to visit. It sounds like it gets the balance just right between being fun – most clearly in the form of the submarine simulator – and being informative. The silk route is certainly an important trading route from history that shouldn’t be forgotten!

  39. ourfamilytraveladventures

    The Maritime Heritage Museum looks fun. I love supporting small museums!

  40. I love things nautical! Keeping the memory of old ships and past ways alive is vital. We may think we know where we are headed, but if we don’t know where we have been, we are sailing in circles. Thanks for posting this review.

    • Thanks Pete! It’s a pleasure to introduce the world to such places as this museum

  41. I have visited Mahavalipuram twice but was not aware of this Museum. Missed it 🙁 May be next time if I go

  42. This place looks like it’d be very interesting and fun.

  43. yogawinetravel

    Looks like an interesting, off-the-beaten-path attraction to visit in the region! I’d love to try out the submarine simulator. Were there a lot of other tourists in the museum?

  44. yogawinetravel

    Looks like an interesting museum to visit if you have an hour to spare, and a little off the beaten path in the region. I’d love to try out the submarine simulator – did you see lots of other people in the museum? Is it mostly local or foreign tourists?

    • There is a mix of tourists here. But the place is not very super crowded. It is small and not many even know about it at this point

  45. Great tips on visiting the Maritime Heritage Museum. Sounds like you guys really enjoyed it.

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