Mamallapuram faces south east across the Bay of Bengal and every morning the sun rises through a hazy sky and the light is a soft magical yellow colour, fisherman in small multi-log or painted high prow canoes paddle out through golden waves, not really surfable but the one surfer in town did offer to rent me his board, to bad the waves were never good enough.
After two lazy days doing very little we finally rented a moped and explored the many temples along the seashore and inland.
Out on the west side of town behind the bus station is “Krishna’s butter ball” a 30ft diameter red sandstone rock ball sitting on a large red rockshelf, the British tried to move it with elephants in the 1800’s and failed, Mary tried too.
scattered around the area are small rock carved temples and huge boulders that look like they were dropped by a glacier? seems kinda far south for that. Just south of the tears is Arunja’s Penance a 40ft by 90ft wall of sandstone carved by the Pallava prople in the 7th century, elephants march beneath a flight of Angels, Arnuja performs self mortification as a Penace to gain favour with Shiva and gain the god slaying weapon Pasupata .
As we stand in awe the 1st rays of the sun peek over the village behind us casting our shadows onto the rock face so that we to become part of the endless story of India.
The road side along the way is lined with carving shops, full of giant (10ft high) buddhas, crocodiles, goddesses, shiva’s, and Ganesch the elephant god. Smaller carvings of every description some like the small elephants are about 10″ high carved out of one piece and carefully hollowed out with a smaller elephant inside.
Down beside the ocean is the seashore temple, also built by the Pallava in the 7th Century. Mamallapuram was one of many villages hit by the 2005 Tsunami, most house were effected in town and the shore temple was also damaged, as the ocean drained out after each wave 3 more temples were exposed sitting further out into the baynoe underwater again. The villagers worked many long days to add 1,000 of rocks around the seashore temple as much of the shoreline was severely eroded by the Tsunami.
Further west we found the famous Mamallapuram five Rathas, a group of five ornately carved chariot temples each one dedicated to a Hindu God, tucked in between them is a life size stone elephant. Most of the visitors are Indian and of course we proved to be more entertaining to them than the temples, endless photos with school children and adults.
Mamallapuram proved to be a great place to relax and soak up some atmosphere, hanging at Yogi’s cafe or supping tea on the beach as the sun rose while chatting with ex-brit Chris, self confessed alcoholic who gave a loud and somewhat borderline insulting run down of Hind religion to us and the local fisherman that I am sure got the jist of his Mounty Python like 2 minute rundown of the last 10 centuries. We also learnt new trading skills while buying Kashmir scarfs for our cool nights in the Himalayas yet to come. It was hard to leave the peace and quite for the 3hr bone shaking bus ride al the way to Kanchipuram to pick up the train to Bangalore. Oh yes Hotel report, Lakshmi lodge, was good! late night swims in the pool were awesome and it had decent internet for 40R an hour.