|The Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram|
Blog Entry #30: India! Chennai and the Temples of Mahabalipuram
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
India!! How to even begin to write about what we have been experiencing here in this land of ancient rhythms and contemporary rich diversity?
|The Chennai skyline beckons from the harbor|
We arrived yesterday morning in Chennai, formerly Madras and the major British colonial port on the east side of India. Chennai is India’s 4th largest city and capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, the largely Tamil-speaking region in south India.
Our trip to the north did not leave until the afternoon of the following day, so Pat and I decided to take a quick trip south to the coastal village of Mahabalipuram – known locally as Mamallapuram – to see some of the famous Dravidian temples and architecture of southern India.
|Driving through Chennai|
|Cow in Chennai|
|Mahabalipuram: Granite boulders & fishing boats|
Our first task, however, was to find the Siva Guesthouse, highly recommended by our trusty Lonely Planet guide to India. Our cab driver was from Chennai and unfamiliar with Mahabalipuram, so unintentionally we had a tour of nearly all of the town before we finally found the guesthouse on a small street a block from the beach. By then we were famished, and made our way to the recommended “Moonraker Inn” for what Pat describes as the best Indian food he has ever eaten (it was delicious!).
We then set out to explore our surroundings, beginning with the beach, site of several fishing boats and the gentle surf of the Bay of Bengal. This area was hit by the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia, but fortunately damage here was fairly small.
At the southern edge of the beach on a prominent bench is the famous Shore Temple, the only remaining temple of an original group of seven; the rest claimed by the sea in the intervening thousand years. In the temple are two shrines -- one to Vishnu, the protector or sustainer god of the “Hindu Trinity” (Brahma – Vishnu – Shiva), and the other to Shiva. Surrounding shrine to Shiva are rows of “nandis” – bulls – the traditional mount of Shiva.
|Krishna Mandapam carved in granite wall, Mamallapuram, India|
|Krishna Mandapam & Arjuna's Penance bas relief|
|Elephants approach Lord Shiva and Ganga in Arjuna's Penance|
|Morgan explaining stone carving technique|
|Pat and Dilip survey the stone carvings in Mamallapuram|
|Dilip calculating our total|
|Dinner along the Bay of Bengal: Santana Restaurant in Mamallapuram|
|Evidence of an emerging environmental ethic in Mamallapuram!|