Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Mahabalipuram ~ Heritage City of Tamil Nadu


As the year end made friendship with winter, we knew its time for another memorable trip.Not because the weather in Bangalore was cold but because weather in Mahabalipuram will be manageable. The otherwise extremely hot Mahabalipuram  has shed a few degrees making us finally able to take a beach break.

We started from Bangalore. It was a misty morning but nevertheless very beautiful. The early morning light along with the fog made a mysterious yet calm scenario. By the time we reached Mahabalipuram it was past noon. Thanks to the breakfast break and also to the numerous KDFC coffee breaks.The road is good, though there are some stretches not that well maintained.But beware of the heavy and frequent tolls. We had to pay tolls in more than 5 toll booths for just the 325 km stretch.

On the way

We had our hotel booked beforehand, since I expected a mad rush of year end visitors.Our hotel was located on Othavadai Cross Street. I loved the vibe of the street.It is lined with open air small cafes,numerous restaurants all named "MoonRakers"(the food is pathetic but that's a different story),jewellery and curio shops.This part of the city looks like a small chunk of Europe airlifted and placed. Othavadai Cross Street is more of a favorite with westerners.Almost all the non vegetarian restaurants serve liquor. Some have rooftop bar playing soothing 90's music.

The beach from our hotel was just one avenue and a right turn away, a very short walking distance.Shore temple was a little far compared to the beach but that also within walking distance.

I kept the first day just for some beach fun, it has been some time we have been to any sea beach.If I can recall correctly the last was Mangalore that too some years back. Though I had Digha and Mandarmoni in plan list for my last trip to Kolkata, but that did not materialize due to time constraint.

I expected a good rush of people on the beach but to my utter pleasure it was pretty desolated, so we had the beach almost to ourselves.After an hour slowly more people started tickling in.I have no words to explain what an amazing time we all had with the winter sun on our back, the fresh breeze on our face and the soothing waves and slithering sands under our feet.It was nature's spa.

beach

surfing

too happy

The next day's plan was to see the Mahabalipuram group of temples. This group of temples is currently classified as world heritage site by UNESCO for its heritage,beauty and sculpture.The building of the temples was started in 7th century by the Pallava kings and the temples are in the form of chariots,caves sanctuaries and open air rock reliefs.

Though the temples are scattered, only one ticket per person is required to see all the temples in one day.

The most beautiful and striking is the Shore temple.It has three shrines, two dedicated to Shiva and the third to Vishnu.According to myth, there were seven temples or pagodas.The temples were so beautiful that even gods became jealous.So lord Indra instructed the sea to engulf the temples. The sea engulfed six temples but could not engulf the seventh one guarded by lord Vishnu.However just like truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction, during the 2004 Tsunami, when the sea receded a few kilometers, many people reported to have seen and photographed the submerged temples.

Apart from the Shore Temple, we see the other temples such as Pancha Rathas,Descent of the Ganges,Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna Cave Temple, Panchapandava Cave Temple, and the Mahishasuramardini mandapa. Many of the temples are unfinished.

Shore Temple

Shore Temple

Shore Temple

Arjuna's penance

Arjuna's penance

two monkeys

Arjuna's Penance

Temple

Krishna's butterball

sculptures inside temples

Pancha Ratha

Pancha Ratha

Pancha Ratha


Bhima's Ratha

We had to  brave the sun and the crowd in the noon and pleasantly we had a surprise in the evening.Visitors to the Shore temple were treated to various Indian dance performances organised by government of India under the banner "Incredible India" and also Tamil Nadu Tourism.We truly had a wonderful day that culminated into an awesome evening.Next we will visit Pondicherry also known as Puducherry.

performers from NE India

performers from NE India

performers from NE India

Performers from Himachal

Performers from Tamil Nadu

Performers from Tamil Nadu

Performers from Tamil Nadu

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