The Tiger Caves are not actually caves, and tigers do not live here! These rock-cut structures with tiger-head like shapes (some think it’s a mythological animal, ‘yeli’) are believed to have been constructed in 7-8 century by Pallavas, like all other similar monuments in Mahabalipuram/Mamallapuram. The Tiger caves are a part of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) protected monuments and the venue is maintained neatly with proper parking space and lush green lawn/trees for visitors.
From the main road – East Coast Road, exactly 5 KM before Mahabalipuarm (from Chennai), one needs to take a left and go 100 meters forward to reach the tiger caves. There are a couple of small boards (left-side), but it’s easy to miss them. In case you cross this location, you’ll see ‘Ideal beach resorts’ just after the Tiger caves. So, you can take a U-turn from there and come back.
There are no entrance fees, but there is a small parking fee. There are a few small stalls outside this venue, offering cool-drinks, tender coconut, etc. Tender coconut is healthy – you can have them anywhere in India. Cool drinks are not, if it’s not already obvious!
This venue not only has fewer visitors (compared to Mahabalipuram), but it is located in a quiet, green and serene location. There is a nice lawn maintained by ASI and the large trees provide some shade and cooling. There are small rocks all around this place and kids will have a good time climbing the rocks and running on them. If you go to Mahabalipuram, do remember to visit this Tiger cave (preferably before visiting Mahabs).
It seems there is a Subrahmanya Temple (that belongs to the Sangam period – 3rd Century BCE to 4th Century CE) near this venue and it was discovered from the inscription on one of the rocks situated here, in 2005. I was not aware of it when I went – perhaps you can try to locate that ancient monument, as well. And yes, the beach is also close by.
Some pictures taken by me at the Tiger caves –