We drove from Chennai to Mammallapuram, a beachside town for a few days of rest after our hosting in Chennai. Mammallapuram was hit by the 2004 Tsunami and the waves went across the town at treetop level.
After our arrival, we had a period of rest and lunch and then went on a tour of the local landmarks, temples carved out of solid granite which includes the World Heritage Shore Temple complex. The statues date back to the 7th century AD. There is a large bas relief known as Arjuna's Penance which features elephants which is the second biggest carving in the world beside one at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
On our walk, we encountered a fortune teller who had a bird who selected cards from a stack and when he stopped the fortune teller gave his verdict.
A huge rock known as Krishna's Butterball is located within one of the temple areas. This massive rock was considered a hazard by the British who tried to dislodge it using elephants but it would not budge.
The Shore Temple is a small but rather beautiful structure set on a headland at Mammallapuram Beach.
Early the following morning, we took some local bicycles for a ride to a local village. The bikes themselves were quite comfortable - the handle bars were very narrow, however, which took some getting used to. We stopped to watch a potter demonstrate his skills - sadly he is apparently the last one of his kind. The potters wife demonstrated making her welcome sign outside their door. This is quite common in both villages and in the poorer areas of cities.
Later that afternoon, Charles arranged for two auto rickshaw drivers to allow us to try driving them. We went to an open area and after a demonstration of how to operate the rickshaws were given control. One of the drivers was confident enough to let us go by ourselves, the other was not. This was another great experience during our tour - we've been for enough rides in auto rickshaws so it was interesting to see how they handle.
The following day, we visited a rubbish recycling centre in Mammallapuram which was wonderful. One would hope over time that such centres will become the norm in India which certainly does need to effectively dispose of their refuse - plastic in particular is a curse in most places. The plant makes compost of our biodegradable waste and cow dung, recycles plastics and creates methane gas in a plant which came 2nd in the world in a completion (out of 600 entries) which is very credible. There is a lot of education provided to schools and to the community in general.
Last year, I visited Mammallapuram for the International 41 AGM and while I was on the beach at dawn one morning, a fisherman by the name of Rama came accross to see if I might like to purchase some souvenirs and I did visit later that day. Given I was bringing a group back to India in 2013, I promised to return with my group and that is what we did after lunch at the nearby Ideal Resort. Rama was very delighted and made a good profit that day and I left him on the beach with tears in his eyes. Really special to be able to support a small local community where they have very little.