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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Mahabalipuram and DakshinChitra visit

         We are in the middle of summer season and in lot of places the heat is felt. Even in Bangalore, the summer is getting hotter with each passing year. Talking about summer, this time is always synonymous with vacations, especially from schools before going to the next grade.
                                 Alright,  I am not going to write about summer vacations, but about our visit to Mahabalipuram (near Chennai) during last month. We were in Chennai for a wedding recently and it has been my longstanding wish to go to Mahabalipuram. And of course, I did not want to miss that chance. This place is only 45 kms from Besant Nagar (Chennai) and can be easily finished as  a day trip. One thing you have to take into account is the scorching heat of summer. So take enough liquids with you.
                                                The day had finally come and after having breakfast, we drove with our relatives who gave us company. On the way to Mahabalipuram, our relatives took us to a place called Dakshin Chitra. The word Dakshin Chitra means 'Picture of South'. It is a place constructed with artistic bend and mainly showcases the model houses and the way of living of  Kerala , Tamilnadu, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh. The entrance was enhanced with the display of clay dolls which looked similar to those kept in Tamil Brahmin houses during Navarathri festival.

                                                         Entrance of DakshinChitra


                                                          Directions to model houses


                                                      Model Agraharam house...


                                  Glass pieces intricately done by an expert in Dakshin Chitra

An artwork in one of the  model houses

The place is spread out with lots of trees and so going around was not so tiring. First, we were led to the entrance which showcased the houses of villages in Tamil Nadu. The entrance itself was tastefully and architecturally decorated. What I remember most are the model houses of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The notable among them were row houses or merchant houses of Chettinad on front of which were seated  astrologers specialized in parrot astrology and palm reading.  There were potter's house of Chengelpet District where pot making was demonstrated and weaver's house of Kanchipuram. There was also a model of Agraharam house of Thirunelvelli district. Coming to the Kerala side, we saw a model of Syrian Christian house in which antique furniture was displayed along with a photo an old lady dressed in traditional Christian attire. There was also a model replica of Calicut house, brahmin street house of Thiruvananthapuram with kolam (rangoli-kolam is the right word) in front of the house. There was an open stage area where dance and music performances were held. We quenched our thirst with coconut water and buttermilk. Not to be missed are the multitude of stalls selling various accessories and craft items.

                                                      Snapshots capturing the colors of the stalls.


After having lunch at a Dhabha, we headed to the much awaited destination which was about 4-5 kms from DakshinChitra.  Mahabalipuram was anglicized as Mamallapuram  during the British rule. As it was hot, we were getting tired.   It was well into afternoon when we reached there. As it is visited by many tourists, more attention should have been given to the parking space. After searching for a spot, we had to park our car straight behind one car. The main attractions in Mahabalipuram are Shore Temple, 5 chariots of Pandavas, Krishna's butter stone, beach, caves which are rock cut and monolithic with stone carvings.  After paying for tickets, we proceeded to Shore temple. This was built by Pallava dynasty during the 7th century AD. Shore temple is surrounded by many Nandi or bull statues outside and carved with lion statues on the walls which looked unique. There is a deity inside the temple which was worshiped during that era. As it is situated near the sea, it is known as Shore temple and the place used to be the Port center for Pallavas.
                                                 After spending some time there and of course taking pictures, we proceeded to the famous cave structure opposite to the Shore temple. The carvings outside the cave are intricate and we need some time to absorb its details. The architectural work inside the cave will remind us of Elephenta caves or Ajanta & Ellora caves of Maharashtra. The highlight of the caves are the elephants carved outside the cave which we associate when we think of Mamallapuram.
                                                          To the side of the caves, we had to climb some boulders to reach a temple. That was a short adventure by itself. The outside of the temple was beautifully and intricately carved. After that, there is a boulder  known as Krishna's butter stone which appeared to be in precarious slanting position. Tourists coming there will keep a finger under it just like Lord Krishna did while holding the Govardhana mountain to save the villagers from the wrath of Lord Indra. We sat there relaxing for sometime and then proceeded to couple of temples ahead.
                                 Below are some photos of our ultimate destination-Mahabalipuram

                                                   The well-known 'Butter Stone'

                                           My hubby ( on the right) & my mama

As it was a very hot day, we could not explore the place fully and missed seeing the five chariots of Pandavas, boat ride in the sea. We were thirsty to the core and was looking forward to quench it with cool drinks and water. As usual, there were some stalls put up but we did not buy anything.
                              So, the better time to visit this place is not during summer days so that one can cover all the places without feeling exhausted. Every monument or temple in that place is worth a watch and if you have to grasp the details of each of them, better start off early in the morning. It has become a habit for me to write about any place that I visit. When I write, the tourist spot comes alive in my mind and I feel I am in that place again.

Thank you.

P.S - I planned to post this article with all eagerness much before, but this time transferring the images from our cell phones to computer was a long and cumbersome process. Some of the images were upside down and I had to make them upright and so I had to limit the number of pictures to be put for my article.

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