Mamallapuram – day 94

Woke up surprisingly early and neither of us were bitten to death as we had imagined we would be… Think it was the vast quantities of deet that we sprayed around the room before we collapsed into bed! We got up and had, a refreshingly, cold shower before heading to a nearby cafe to grab breakfast and a much needed coffee! Walked through the centre of town towards the mandapams (pillared pavilions of temple forecourts) that are located on the main hill in Mamallapuram. As we walked through the town, we were inundated with requests to visit the numerous touristy shops which made us miss the normality of the non-touristy towns which aren’t home to hippies ‘living in India’. Continued until we reached the large immovable boulder which is known as Krishna’s Butter Ball. Took some obligatory cheesy photos of us pretending to hold the boulder which looks like it is balanced precariously on the rock slope.  We then spent about two hours doing some low-key hiking around the main hill that has many mandapams, some of which are from the 5th century. We gave some sweets to a group of three French tourists, one of whom had fainted, and who were being looked after by an Indian street seller who couldn’t understand why we would help complete strangers. We climbed up to the 8th-century Olakkannesvara Temple which had amazing views of the town and the sea.  We missed out on the modern lighthouse as it was incredibly crowded, deciding instead to head towards the Shore Temple. Clearly weathered by the salty sea air, the temple was really rough around the edges but in a beautiful way. Originally construed in the 7th century, it was later rebuilt and houses two shrines to Shiva. Interestingly, this temple is supposedly the last in a series of buildings that extended along the now submerged coastline. Apparently, the 2004 tsunami revealed the outlines of sister temples when the water receded. It certainly made Jayne and I want to scuba dive the coast to see what we could find!!  Walked down the road to the five rathas. These temples are carved from single pieces of rock, each one is dedicated to a Hindu God and has an animal mount carving. The life sized carving of the elephant is regarded as one of the most perfectly sculptured elephants in India. Walked back to our ‘cell-block’ to have a quick shower before heading out to find a beach side restaurant to have some dinner.   Saw a cow eating a car decorations – clearly it had been working its way down the row of parked cars based on the size of its belly!! Ate fresh calamari and prawns whilst looking out at the crashing waves, watching a group of school children get soaked as their teacher looked on in despair. Returned to watch some more of the dance festival before going to bed. Saturday 9th January 2016

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