Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Trip down the East Coast Road-1

A small church on the ECR

The penultimate day of ANCIPS-2007 was devoted to improving the hedonistic tone in my limbic system. The one thing that consistently does that is being able to use my camera in a meaningful way and to be able to finish a bottle of beer in quick time. A drive down the East Coast Road (ECR) to Pondicherry via Mahabalipuram seemed to be just what the shrink analysed (pun). Anyways, Pondicherry because its one place in India where booze is about as cheap as water and also because the road is supposed to be scenic and promised to deliver a lot of photo-ops. Therefore, our stern and Hindi challenged driver, Mr Shiva was sought out. And off we went.
There is precious little of the east coast visible from most part of the road. Instead, there is a surfeit of cutouts of Stalin, and more Stalin. Of course, Karunanidhi is around too. Also are the mushrooming resorts, hotels, houses and villages. This is all Tsunami country and here and there, are planatations of trees, ostensibly to break the force of the next tsunami. The sea is immense, and streches on for eternity, i saw a helicopter come in from over the sea and felt a twinge of anxiety thinking of being all alone and in so vast a bare playground of nature. It must have been devestating.
There are some salt pans along the way too, and I was pretty surprised to see people standing nonchalantly nose-deep in sea water seemingly doing nothing. That was until I asked Mr Shiva what they were upto. They were making the trenches in which sea water is evaporated to get the salt. There were a few photo-ops, true. But by the time, I could convert my "BC, Gaddi roko" into english, Mr Shiva (who I am sure, understood only when it suited him) was too far down the road and I too lazy to walk back to the photo-op place.
I had this terrible craving for coconut water and longigly looked at all those coconut trees. And remember thinking to myself that I would be really unfortunate if I conked off just now and went to hell unrequited. Said so to my Bengali friend who was suitably horrified at such morbid thought processes.
Eventually, we got to Mahabalipuram about noon. The entrance to Mahabalipuram is guarded by a man with a rope and a slip of entry that costs Rs 20/- and says Mahabalipuram panchayat. Opposite the man is a stone platform that was left unfinished in antiquity. The air is filled with stone dust from the many workshops that make statues and curios for toursits and the like. The subject mostly being mythological. Its big busts, broad hips, thick lips and no or a few clothes everywhere, unfortunately all in stone. Even in ancient times, South Indians liked plump women. Getting to the first temple complex, fulfilled my vow of having coconut water before I conk off at the ridiculous price of Rs 20/-. Only two problems, I got fleeced and now I have many more things i want to do before I slip away. Humankind is so very mean.
I only read about Mahabalipuram after getting back home. This makes for fantastic reading. There is so much to explore, this place alone is worth a week. Just make sure you do your homework.
The first temple complex we went to is the Ratha complex and later we went to the shore temple. The shore temple is pure heaven. The surf and the sand, the temple and so many beautiful people around. I wanted to stay there and rest for a while.

Now even though, its tough as nails to upload all of these pics, but then I cant resist a captive audience and since Tatastha is getting so many accolades ;-) on my blog, I hope there will be some wise comments from her for this post too.

Ratha Complex

The view from the entrance, walking on the sandy soil. These monolithic temples made me imagine all those times that we will never know.

Nandi the bull is a patient playmate for this young kid who found thisplace ideal for a quick game of hide-n-seek. It always surprises me, the way such places are so much in-your-daily-routine type of places for locals. Tourists like us can only gape and look soppy.

The stone lion guards the entrance. It is also nice as a shady place.

My friend kaustav got stuck climbing up this rock face, we got a picture of both his ends. :-))

Making up in ancient places, this girl was pretty pissed with her elder brother about something. they soon made up.

Two artists, two media, two perspectives, one object of desire. I always find this interesting.

Two kids, they were happy to see a huge, overweight sardar taking their picture. I thought they made a nice subject too.

I was walking back when I saw this old lady and taking my best south Indian accent I asked, "Amma, fotto". She looked at me in shock and managed to shake her head in acquiscence. took her picture before she could say no.

The Shore temple Complex

We took a wrong turn while walking to the shore temple complex. Saw a lot of people, men in these turbans and women in red saris, anyone know it's significance?
Lots of shacks selling delicious looking seafood, was sorely tempted to give up vegetarianism. Held steadfast. (pats own back). Had to jump over a few fences to get to the temple and then would have had to walk back a few hundred yards to get a ticket, but a kindly and chinese looking security guard let us through. Maybe it was kinship of being obvious foreigners in a strange place, but I was greatful to him because by now my back was killing me and I could not have walked back and forth.Thanks man.

I quite liked this view, later found that most people do not take this view. i am sure I could make a poster or something out of this.

Next to the temple is the coast, a long and deserted beach. The most beautiful Ihave seen in a long time. Trust the angrej's to get it right. Saw this guy surfing and was seized with a longing to go and have a dip myself.

This lady tried hard to get a sale, but I took her picture instead. She sells sea shells on the sea shore. This time I got it right.

A guide at the temple, employed by the ASI. I took his picture as he saw a squirrel run down the temple steps.
These rows of sculptures reminded me of the egyptian temples I have seen on discovery channel.


tatastha said...

Shrinked Immaculate... wonderful pictures, Shall I praise you, the camera, the Pictures or the place itself? :) I have decided to praise the interconnectedness of all these :)

The Interconnectedness

The church is within your heart
The knowledge of the Supreme self is beyond duality.
The voices of its individuality in the beauty of art
On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, along the Indian eastern coast rests place of human spirit
The cradle of Mother’s culture and civilization
She made the city ancient with five rathas and seven temples
Six now lie submerged in the sea
The worlds seven, the senses five
Through these He travels in the darkness of night and the light of the day
The essence of spaces vast, Nandi, his name, the guru of all
If He is known, what need is there for meditation
If She is unknown, what is the use of worship
Essence of creation, manifested as men and women,
Intoxicated with the desire of life, being innate in every seed,
That which nourishes and fortifies the infinite diversity
Expresses itself in you and me,
As unfathomable sky and infinite sea
As the boy and girl,
As the wise woman and old man,
As the one who play with the waves,
As the She who sells sea shells on the sea shore.

sshakthi said...

The church is within your heart
The knowledge of the Supreme self is beyond duality.

very nice start.. as the pic.. tastastha your poem is absolutely something very good amazing.. you cant describe the pics or the feeling better than this,, simply superp..

As the She who sells sea shells on the sea shore.

very nice lines..

skywalker said...

Nice Pictures, but there is only one picture which captured my attention 100 %. I want to go to India and eat those FISHES!!!!! YAMMY YAMMY…Thank God I’m not a vegetarian and I’m going to apply for visa immediately.

…So sweet old lady
…A colourful man with pride

Very nice comment tatastha

tatastha said...

Hmgrm.. thanks ssakthi and sky.. by the way it is Shrink Immaculate who took these pics. Actually it was me who send him to take these pics. He did a good job:P

Nic said...

Haha, I think I will praise the surfer in the picture...because it is me!!! Funny small world, amazing the technology available out there now. I found your blog and the picture by searching Google blog search ( for "surfing mahabalipuram" your blog is the first to come up. Clicked on it, and there I was! Excellent picture, Thanks! Not the best surfing conditions ever, but still fun to get out there. I hope you enjoyed your swim. I enjoyed reading the rest of your post as well and looking at the other pictures, keep up the good work.

This is the longest comment ever -- but just FYI, I'm from California but am working in Hyderabad for the past 6 months. I've made a few trips to Mahabs on the weekend to go surfing, as I really miss the beaches and ocean in Hyderabad!



Anonymous said...

Mahabalipuram is a treasure house of ancient Tamil art, culture, civilization, & history. A coastal city, Mahabalipuram has an immense place of importance in Tamil history and mythology. This beautiful coastal city of Tamil Nadu is ordained with a number of temples and places of archeological importance. It is not surprising therefore, that because of the overabundance of these places Mahabalipuram is often referred to as a legacy in stone. The unique instances of art, culture and architecture that has been preserved by the kings of the then Pallava dynasty proves to be a delight to the eye even today and it is not for nothing that Mahabalipuram is known as an “open air museum”. The richness of Mahabalipuram has made it one of the most favorite tourist places of South India. Hotels in Mahabalipuram are for tourists from different walks of life. As the place is more of a tourist destination rather than a business one, there are many leisure hotels and budget hotels in Mahabalipuram.

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