Update for 25 January 2010
For a Chennai resident, a visit to Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram or Mahabs), is part of tradition. Way back in the seventies, people went to Mahabs to visit the rock caves, rock temple and the beach. Later on, it was with a stopover at the Crocodile farm and the snake park outside to view reptiles, really close. Then came the attractions influenced by the Tamil Film Industry – of garish arches, and even more garish statues placed on the beach to attract the passersby and entice them into a world of make-believe moviedom. The elite crowd would take a detour to a quieter part of the seashore close to Mahabs to spend some private time at a famous five-star hotel, or saunter into the “arts village” to buy some paintings or pottery at a steal. I haven’t been there recently, but I understand that the road trip is fabulous, and numerous water-parks, and other such resorts have sprung up along the way. I hope the green casuarina groves are intact – they lent a cool charm to the hot and humid travel, and were a beautiful foreground colour to the deep blue sea beyond. The interesting part of the rock cut caves and temples at Mahabs, was once very interestingly described by a local guide. He spoke little English and figuring out that most of us in the college picnic crowd did not understand his Tamil, he tried his best at translation – “First there were seven temples; then the sea comes in; and then it goes out; and now there is only 1 temple”. I found it fascinating on how he described the ravages of time, tide and erosion in a single sentence that summed up his entire tour. We did not enter the remaining temple, but the pagoda like structure stood in defiance facing the sea amidst the yellow sands and teeming crowds that mulled around. The beach was no better than the famed Marina at Chennai – it had its share of street food (or rather beach food) vendors; other knickknack peddlers; and the little stores that lined the street outside the rock-cuts, had a colourful feel to them. Enchanting, and inviting travelers to buy something to take back home.
The D Boyz looked like in no mood to work today – cannot blame them as they are stuck between a weekend and a National Holiday. So they opened their text-books for guidance and picked on “Range Bound” as the mantra of the day. Although their start was faulty – almost 150 points down, they tried to scale various pagoda peaks during the day, with only one that was in the green (just after 2 pm), just like the fabled seven pagodas of Mahabs. They finally succumbed to some profit erosion to finally end their day and the SENSEX at a loss of 79 points at 16780. Some people felt that it was because the jeeps taken to the Mahabs & Mamallapuram picnic party was not up to the mark, while others Held Cold Looks for some technology company that missed its targets, too. But all said and done, the Boyz shut shop at D Street for the day to prepare for the Republic Day celebrations at their housing complex grounds – their kids would sing songs, while the older people would try to sound patriotic and jingoistic, and the D Boyz and their wives would then head out to the newest restaurant in town for a sumptuous, unhurried lunch.
There is also an interesting lighthouse atop a rocky hill at Mahabs which attracts many. The view of the surroundings from this vantage point is quite nice in this part of the year, when you can see lots of green and quite a few ponds with glistening fresh water. And if it is cloudy, the heat is subdued and the climb is less arduous. In any case, there is always one or more tender coconut water vendors ready to quench your thirst!
Cheers and Happy Republic Day to all Indians….