To the Coast of Coromandel

Mamallapuram Travel Blog

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Skalsang in Delhi

The last few days with the Nesbitts were lovely. We rested, relaxed and talked. On Saturday we went to Connaught Place to meet Skalsang, our guide in Ladakh last time we were here. He's studying hard in Delhi for various civil service exams, in the hope of a job for life. It was good to hear all his news.

Delhi Airport was shrouded in fog on Sunday morning, so the flight to Chennai (Madras for Raj era types) ran 2 hours late. But our booked taxi was still waiting to take us the 60km south to Mamallapuram on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Out to fish
It's a small resort town famous (UNESCO heritage!) for its carved temples and carving school. There are a few hundred western tourists here. We have a room in a laid back hotel with a lovely garden. We sleep just under a sheet, but with a mosquito net, 30 degrees in the day, 20 at night. There is an attractive sandy beach, but with the surf it's not good for swimming. A fishing fleet works from the beach, the small boats come and go through the surf. Onshore the men mend their nets. Most boats have outboards, but a few are little more than curved timbers bound together and paddled out to sea.

Normally it's quiet here, but it was Republic Day on Monday, and so a long weekend. Thousands from the local towns thronged to the south beach where there were dozens of small shops, a little funfair, horserides and simply a chance to stand and watch the sea. The crush to get home from the small bus station at 6.

The Five Rathas
00pm was amazing. Buses came and went every 2 - 3 minutes, young men jumped on before they'd stopped, dozens stood on each bus, except the expensive air-con ones. Traffic choked the main street preventing the buses turning. Hawkers sold snacks through the bus windows. No-one got hurt!

Our remaining days in town have been spent sightseeing among the intricately carved temples and shrines, walking the beach, and watching. And a brief trip to the nearby Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/ Centre for Herpetology, a world-renowned crocodile conservation and breeding organisation with 100s of crocs. It was really fascinating, with the added attraction of the Irula Snake Catchers Industrial Cooperative Society in one corner. The Irula catch snakes and here they milk their venom harmlessly for serum. More fascination!

Off to French Pondicherry soon.

PaulandJennyClarke says:
Hi Hil and Mike,
We have caught up with your exploits and are awaiting the next episode from incredible India. Hope your stomachs are holding up well. Look after yourselves.
Love from Paul and Jenny
xx
Posted on: Jan 29, 2009
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Skalsang in Delhi
Skalsang in Delhi
Out to fish
Out to fish
The Five Rathas
The Five Rathas
The Shore Temple
The Shore Temple
Mamallapuram Beach
Mamallapuram Beach
Crocodile Bank
Crocodile Bank
The Irula Snake Catchers Industria…
The Irula Snake Catchers Industri…
Mamallapuram
photo by: gert-n-bert