Mamallapuram Travel Blog› entry 2 of 10 › view all entries
Arriving in Mamallapuram we stepped off the bus and were greeted by the usual chaos. We hadn't had time to reserve any accomodation but it proved not to have been necessary as there were plenty of people shouting at us offering rooms which we took as a good sign. We found the place which, according to the Lonely Planet, sounded most appropriate to our budget but were a bit surprised to find that a room with aircon is double the cost of non aircon rooms. Why? Despite the humidity and heat we decided to battle through and take a fan only room, after all we didn't come to India to spend lots of money!!!
The town is much better than our brief experience of Chennai but it's still a bit hard to take the sights and sounds of the town in as you really need to keep your eyes on where you are walking as the town is literally covered in shit!!! We've become quite expert at distinguishing the source as there are not only huge cow pats but lots of dog, goat and unfortunately lots of human shit too!! The really weird thing is that Indians seem to actually take a fair amount of pride in their appearance and it is also not uncommon to see people out busy sweeping the roads.
Mamallapuram has some very interesting sights to see and our first morning we set off early hoping to avoid the heat to see a huge rock called Krishna's Butter Ball which was left precariously balancing on a rocky slope by some long ago melted glacier. It looks as if the slightest push will send it rolling through the town. Around the rock there are many temples carved out of the solid rockfaces with intricate bas relief carvings. The problem again is the faeces strewn surroundings and the "guides" that appear and offer their services. Once we had ditched them we strayed onto the turf of the local monkey troupe and hastily beat a retreat as they advanced upon us!! We've had our rabies shots but still don't fancy getting bitten by a monkey!! By this time the futility of our early start was apparant.
Walking down to the other sights we passed the usual throngs of hawkers, beggars and children. Much worse than them was the sight of poor monkeys chained and dressed up by their truly evil captors, it really is sickening. Especially when you see dumb people having their photo taken with them and paying money to further the monkey's suffering. What utter arseholes!! When we found out that there was a massive entrance fee for the other temples we decided to boycott them and stop our money going to help the locals. If they are happy to see animals suffer then as far as we're concerned they can suffer too, we certainly don't want them to benefit from our money.
That was the pattern we fell into, we'd leave the hot but just about tolerable safety of our room for an hour or so to see or do something then rush back, shower and collapse in the draught created by the blades of the fan!! The usual sanctuary of a cold beer is even hard work as many places don't openly serve alcohol and those that do charge crazy prices. Would you believe a beer here is R's 110 which is almost USD$3!!! When you consider a meal for two including a large bottle of mineral water is only R's 60 or USD$1.50 and our room is only R's 500 the price for beer is totally out of proportion!!
What is even more frustrating is that this is a beach town where for several resons we can't swim in the sea.
This perhaps sounds a little negative but there have been some great experiences. We found a great vegetarian restaurant called Ananda Bhavan, which must have some specific meaning re vegetarian food as we've seen the name in Singapore too.
The jury is most definately out on India and how long we decide to stay here is a current hot topic. The undoubted rich cultural experience is countered by the many frustrations and annoyances so we'll just have to plod on and wait and see.