Saturday, December 27, 2014

Around Chennai: Mahabilapuram

Mahabilapuram is about an hour drive from downtown Chennai. It's one of (the few) tourist areas that people visiting Consulate members tend to see when they come to Chennai. We had our first visitors from the US in town, so we decided to (finally) hit up the sights. We started off by seeing the Shore Temple. The details of the carvings are pretty impressive, considering it's 13 centuries old. My diplomatic ID card lets me buy the vastly cheaper "local Indian" tickets, but my family and visitors had to buy the tourist tickets (which cost 25x as much). 

From there, we hopped back in the car (it's really nice having a driver, since he can pick you up and drop you off at the entrance, alleviating all the stress of dealing with the crowded and sometimes distant parking lots). We took a short drive to Pancha Rathas, which is a group of five chariots chiseled out of enormous boulders. It was relatively crowded owing to the nice weather this time of year in South India. 

Now that's an Elephant.

I really enjoyed these [random strangers] taking their "Hear no, See no, Speak no evil... and thumbs up!" picture.

Another short drive led us to the "main event" in Mahabilapuram. There is a long stretch with many little carved caves and reliefs, as well as the lighthouse and "Krishna's Butterball." Our driver dropped us off at one end and we walked/hiked through the stone hills to the other side. There were a decent number of monkeys hanging around, looking for food handouts. We saw one open and drink an entire bottle of mango juice, while the ecstatic tourists took pictures.

Those are some heavy earrings.

Krishna's Butterball
We ended our day trip with lunch at the Seashore Garden Restaurant, a place quite acurately named due to its location.

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