We are fortunate enough to live half an hour away from a UNESCO world heritage site. In Mahabalipuram you can see early examples of Dravidian architecture and a variety of sculptures from the 7th/9th century. Some of the sites are right by the sea, offering spectacular views. You will also see the work of today's sculptors, in roadside workshops and in every little shop for tourists. You can walk around and maybe have lunch in a not so great looking place consisting of only one dusty room but where they will cook for you whatever fish was caught early that morning - and you get to have fun bargaining for the price and feel like a local.
If, however, you are a local and bargaining has lost a lot of its charm for you; if you have been to the sites many many times already; if you have three kids and are too tired to remember how to spell "Dravidian"; then here is what you can do instead.
Drive to Mahabalipuram, ignore all the signs directing you to the culturally relevant sites and as soon as you pass the collection point where some people - who may or may not have a right to do so - charge a fee to enter the town, make a left turn a drive into the premises of the most ostentatious resort of the area. Check in and don't leave until it's time to go back home.
(Note: these photos were taken three weeks ago, when my mom was still visiting us. This weekend at the resort was our way to thank her for agreeing to spend all the rest of her visit in a flat in the middle of nowhere with loud children and unreliable electricity supply.)