Travel day…Pondicherry here we come…Photos from Mahabalipuram tours…

“Krishna’s Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal and Krishna’s Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline in the historical coastal resort town Mamallapuram in the Tamil Nadu state of India. Since it is part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during 7th- and 8th-century CE as Hindu religious monuments by the Pallava dynasty, it is a popular tourist attraction. It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India. It is best viewed at sunrise from northwest to southeast or at sundown from northeast to southwest when the panorama is bathed in magical golden hues.” Our guide explained that at one time, centuries ago, the locals tried to move this boulder using elephants, but it wouldn’t budge.

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Today, we’re moving again, leaving Mahabalipuram (finally, I can pronounce this), also known as Mamallapuram (the locals changed the name when they weren’t pleased with its meaning centered around sacrifice) driving with Raj to our following location, the French-influenced Poidicherry.

Another of many temples within the World Heritage Center, made from a single rock.

It’s only a two-hour drive, but we’ll stop along the way to see a temple on the beach that we missed a few days ago during a Hindu festival when roads were blocked off due to the crowds. 

“The Descent of the Ganges, also known as Arjuna’s Penance, at Mamallapuram, is one of the largest rock relief in Asia and features in several Hindu scriptures.”

If we’d gone to see it on Sunday, it would have required a very long walk in the sweltering heat. Raj suggested we wait until today when the crowds are gone, and we can drive up to the temple and take some photos of the exterior.

Al “Varaha, (Sanskrit: “Boar”) third of the ten incarnations (avatars) of the Hindu god Vishnu. When a demon named Hiranyaksha dragged the earth to the bottom of the sea, Vishnu took the form of a boar to rescue it. They fought for a thousand years.” The wild boar, which we saw while on safari, is often depicted in historical sculptures.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Ideal Beach Resort, where we’ve savored great food, ice-cold beverages and had 10-days of laundry beautifully done for IDR 2395, US $32.44. We’ll be posting a positive review at TripAdvisor later today.

The aluminum pots are used all over India for cooking. In some communities, a driver with a truck visits villages selling these to locals who don’t want to use public transportation and carry the pots home. The driver provides “credit” for locals and comes around once a week to collect payments. Other vendors, including those selling plastic housewares, do the same.

After dinner and drinks for three nights, our entire bill, including the laundry, was only IDR 10991.43, US $148.99. Our tour included the cost of the hotel stay, and we’re only responsible for food, beverages, laundry, and tips.

A temple carved from a single massive stone.

This tour requires a lot of tipping, for which we use cash in most cases. Instead of the necessity of tracking every rupee we pay in tips, we’re keeping a running total of all money we acquire for ATMs, knowing it’s all going to pay for tips. We spend the remainder by credit card.

A tree with an unusual bulb-like base was growing from this rock.

I downloaded an app on my phone, Mr. Receipt, to note details on every receipt when we receive it. Then we can immediately toss it, and all the categories are neatly arranged. 

We carefully walked on the edges of this monument to avoid falling into this opening, formerly filled with water. While we were inside, an older man fell but wasn’t seriously injured.

This is working well, as opposed to the old method of accumulating a lot of receipts and then having to log them all at once before leaving a location. Anything that can reduce the time spent tracking our expenses is worth it to me.

Another view of one of the enormous reliefs in Asia. See details in the above photo.

We didn’t go on any tours; instead, we quietly spent time at the resort, walking about the hotel grounds, on the beach, and enjoying the lovely scenery. We had sundowners on the beach in the evening, watching the moon rising while chatting with tourists as they walked by.

Inside one of the temples/rock formations.

Now, we’re off again to Pondicherry for two nights for some new activities and tours, which we’ll post over a few days. We’re are getting good at packing quickly. 

See the sweat on Tom’s tee shirt. It was very hot when we were there, but no shorts were allowed in the temples.

Yesterday, I took everything out of my one suitcase, refolding and reorganizing everything. After dinner, our laundry arrived, and I added my clean clothes. Now my bag is tidy, and it’s easier to find items. Tom’s bag is always neat. Go figure.

The Brahma Bull…”Nandi is the gate-guardian deity of Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. He is usually depicted as a bull, which also serves as the mount to Shiva. … The Sanskrit word Nandi (Sanskrit: नन्दि) has the means of happiness, joy, and satisfaction, … His mount, in the oldest Saivite texts in Sanskrit, Tamil, and other Indian languages.”

We just arrived at yet another corporate-type hotel in downtown Pondicherry. We prefer more tourist-type hotels, but here we are again in a corporate environment. But, it’s clean, has some interesting French architecture and the dinner menu looks promising.

This was the second area we visited in Mahabalipuram, where more revered stone carvings remain excellent.

We unpacked what we needed; toiletries, digital equipment, and plugins and left our bags opened but not unpacked. We’re officially in the mode of living-out-of-a-suitcase these days, and we’re getting used to it. We can be ready to leave in minutes. This unforgettable tour of India has taught us more than one thing!

Generally, clothing in shops such as these is inexpensive.

The following is information on our recent tours in Mahabalipuram, along with the many photos we’ve included.

The area is known for stone and granite statutes that are shipped worldwide, often at a shipping cost four or five times the item’s price.

From this site: “The town has a collection of the 7th and 8th-century Hindu religious monuments that have been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, about 60 kilometers (37 mi) south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

There’s plenty of restrooms available for tourists and local for a small fee.

The site has 40 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance – one of the world’s most significant open-air rock reliefs. 

Shops in the center of the town of Mahabalipuram.

The site includes several categories of monuments: Ratha temples with an architecture of monolith processional chariots built between 630 and 668 CE; the mandapa viharas with halls and stone roofs with narratives from the Mahabharata, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism; rock reliefs, particularly bas-reliefs of Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism; stone cut temples, particularly those dedicated to Shiva that also reverentially display Vishnu and others, built between 695 and 722 CE; and, archaeological excavations with inscriptions some dated to 6th century and earlier. 

The cave temples and monolithic temples were built during the Pallava Period. The site is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.”

The exterior of a civic building in Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram

Thanks for stopping by. May your day be colorful and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2019:

Another photo of the male Nyala who visited us for the first time on Friday along with Kudus and Ms. Bushbuck, three types of antelope in the garden simultaneously. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses Travel day…Pondicherry here we come…Photos from Mahabalipuram tours…

  1. Nicky @aboveusonlyskies.com

    I love India, but Pondicherry has evaded me until now. I’m fascinated by its history and definitely hope to get there one day!

  2. Jessica

    Nicky, we have loved Pondicherry. Its a fascinating town. We'll be posting some exciting photos later today. Thank you for reading our posts. Glad you had a chance to see India.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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