Southern India – Mamallapuram

Southern India – Mamallapuram

Carved in Stone

From the underwhelming city of Pondicherry, we followed the coast north for a couple of hours to the delightful seaside town of Mamallapuram. Mamallapuram has large outcroppings of granite, which locals began carving into spectacular temples, statues, and reliefs 1500 years ago – as much to advertise their skills as for worship. It has been a (the?) major center of granite carving in the country. The town’s carvers are world-renowned, and orders for huge statues come from all over the world. With its combination of ancient carvings, stone craftsmen, and white sand beach, Mamallapuram is quite the tourist town.

The ancient carvings are interesting it that they are not constructured out of blocks of granite, but instead were created by taking a granite outcropping and chipping away until a temple or whatever remained. The shots below were taken at the various temple sites.

    s  Mamallapuram had been hit by the tsunami, though it had caused no deaths in the town (there had been deaths in the villages along the coast, however). We had dinner at a seaside restaurant, and saw some signs of the tsunami – but just barely. The seaside restaurant had been heavily damaged by the tsunami, but had been rebuilt and was open for business in only a few weeks.

   Sign on our seaside restaurant’s wall The barely visible red writing at the top of the ballustrades is the sign to the left Mamallapuram beach. Note the tangles of nets in the foreground, from the tsunami. There was some desultory work going on with boat rebuilding, but the fisherman were getting some sort of stipend, so they weren’t in a huge rush to get back to work. You can see some ancient shore temples in the background.Here are two of my favorite shots from Mamallapuram – a cow walking down the beach at sunset, accompanied by a pack of playful dogs.

To the right is a cute street urchin trying to sell me a string of beads. She wouldn’t leave me along until I pulled out a candy and gave it to her. Later on that day she saw me again, and hit on me for another candy.


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