Blogs from Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, India, Asia


Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram August 27th 2019

“They look like vultures, not eagles.” I was with my driver Muthu, viewing a sign commemorating the spot where the priests used to feed the “eagles” that came daily to the hilltop temple of Thirukalukundram. “No, no, they are eagles,” he insisted. After all, the temple’s name includes a shortened version of the Tamil word for eagle, “kalugu.” The sign depicted a priest feeding two white birds whose heads looked very much like vultures. And from my later internet research, I learned that they were indeed Egyptian vultures. Everyday since “forever,” a pair had come to this place to receive the food offerings. But for the last 15 years they haven’t come. It would have been nice to see the birds and the feeding. Nonetheless, Muthu and I trudged up the 539 steps to visit the ... read more
the tank seen from the top of the hill
Buying flowers in bulk
husband and wife split banana leaves

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram August 23rd 2019

Saravanan had just arrived on his motorcycle as I was returning from dinner to his guest house. His face looked tense. “You know my dog Daniel, he got in a fight with other dogs when I was away on vacation. For two weeks he was wandering around injured, but no one could catch him. So when I returned, I found him on the beach limping along with a huge wound on his neck. There were flies all over it, it smelled, and he could barely walk to me.” His troubled tone told me things were not so good with Daniel. “I thought he wouldn’t make it. But I called the doctor and she took him to a shelter and cleaned the wound and kept him there to heal. I had hoped that he would come back ... read more
Veterinary nurse and volunteer Elaine Philpot removes the old bandage
Elaine inspects the wound
Bandaged and secured.  Maybe.

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram January 11th 2018

This is always an element of pride when you succeed in doing something in a new and different country even if it is only the purchase of train tickets. Woolly says – Our plan for our second and last day in Chennai was a train ride down the coast to The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology which runs a conservation program for the sharper toothed animals of India, as we waited for our train I couldn’t stop myself from singing ‘Never smile at a crocodile, No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile’ it was a rather pleasant way of passing the time at least. My small friend sounded like he was in a lot of pain, possibly his digestion wasn’t to good given the three meals of curry a day were consuming, ... read more
Sloth Bear
Monkey time
It's not Mr Parsons

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram November 17th 2017

We check in at Cochi Airport for flight to Chenoa and ask for an exit row legroom seat. When we go through the gate we get new boarding passes that are upgrades to business class ..only a short flight but nice nonetheless. Must make sure we get this on our last flight to Delhi. ...! Agent meets us at Chennai and takes us to the car and leaves us with our driver for the next few days and whose name we never mastered. Our next 2 nights are at the Ideal Beach Resort. ...which turned out to be not so ideal....which was 60kms south of Chennai. It was a real hi di hi type place but we got a nice see view apartment. Being a weekend the place was full of locals and there was a ... read more

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram April 17th 2017

When we arrived at the Pallava Dynasty hotel yesterday we wondered why it had been named after what to us means a hassle or a fuss. Today we find out from our guide Mr Shiba that it's not just an unfortunate translation but actually relates to a dynasty that ruled this area in the 6th and 7th centuries - the Pallavas. As seems the norm with such groups I'm guessing they caused a bit of a palava hence their name carrying on into language of today. The rock carvings I'd seen a bit of on my wanderings the day before are actually part of a huge complex protected by UNESCO world heritage status, such is their importance. Mamallapuram's situation facing the Bay of Bengal made it an ideal trading port and hub hence the reason for ... read more

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram April 16th 2017

Wow what a luxury. We have a pool! While most of my group head off to explore Mamallapuram this morning I opt to do things in reverse - us introverted characters need a bit of alone time to recharge. Being on a group tour AND sharing a room means such opportunities are few and far between. An empty pool all to myself, bliss. Later I'm joined by a couple of others from the group and also suddenly we have a group of macaque monkeys jumping along the balconies and into a large fruit bush next to the pool. They are funny to watch, the bigger males bossing the littleuns about. They are making a right mess dropping leaves and fruits all over the ground. It's therefore no surprise when the hotel lady who keeps the outdoor ... read more

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram March 5th 2016

Having “three” days to chill before the boat to Andaman we decided to kill the time in nearby Mamallapuram, an hour and a half bus ride from Chennai. Mamallapuram is home to some of the oldest architecture in India, ranging from circa 1500 - 500 years ago. The Pallava dynasty (circa 1000-1200 years ago) had an architectural impact throughout southern India, going north as far as Ellora (Near Mumbai, we'll be heading there on our way north), and due to their excellent maritime capabilities their influence even reached parts of South East Asia. Ankgor Wat in Cambodia (One of the wonders of the ancient world) was influenced by the Pallava dynasty. Although today it's a Buddhist monastery, I believe (I'll find out in a few months time), it was originally built as a Shiva temple. The ... read more

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram December 27th 2015

I spent many hours over several days wandering among the 7th century wonders at Mamallapuram. Carved from single large boulders, stories burst from their surfaces in astonishing detail, rooms chiseled deep into the guts of the rocks appear like naturally occurring symmetrical caves. The first day I explored, a rock carver tagged along, despite my saying several times "goodbye" and "I want to be alone." When I realized he was not going away until I visited his "shop," I detoured from my tour for five minutes, followed him on stones rising from a cesspool of muck-which I nearly teetered into, entered his shop, and surveyed his quite ordinary inventory. He expressed indignation that I didn't buy, then shouted at me as I walked away. This was my first day touring in this small town. I sighed, ... read more
Arjuna's Penance
Shore TEmple
Five Rathas

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram December 18th 2015

I marched through the gate between the beach and the posh resort at Mamallapuram, seeking a fancy restaurant experience. Having just adopted a tortoise, I needed to celebrate. My baggy pants, casual blouse, floppy hat, and lack of gold jewelry must have given me away as an outsider. A voice behind me called, "Excuse me madam, can I help you?" I turned around, and there was Ramesh, a man whom I would come to know in this small coastal city. "I just wanted to have lunch here," I said. "Where do you want to eat? We have two restaurants," he said, then added, "the entrance from the beach is just for resort guests." I appreciated his polite tone. He asked where I was staying. I named ... read more
Fisherman's Colony
Ramesh and his stretch of beach
Fisherman's Colony street

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram December 16th 2015

At age 62 I became a mom. Again. But this time, my child had a hard shell, retractable head, and four feet. And I have to admit that it was unplanned. Here’s how it happened: Mamallapuram is best known for its remarkable carved rock temples scattered throughout this small coastal city. But about 20 kilometers north of town is The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, where thousands of crocodiles representing nearly 20 of the world's species are given safe haven in murky pools. Snakes lizards, turtles, and land dwelling tortoises join the extensive collection of all things reptile. In addition, men from the Irula caste demonstrate the fascinating work of extracting venom from poisonous snakes. A shady path skirts pools lined with high walls. Signs warn visitors not to stick their hands over the top, because crocs ... read more
Extracting the venom
Croc relaxing
A croc retirement home

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