Coastal South India : Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram | Horn please, OK?

Coastal South India : Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram

Day 2 : Pondicherry -> Mahabalipuram 
When : May 2013 | How far : 103 kms | How long: 1 hr 30 mins 

 Monoliths & Mahabalipuram 

We're not morning people which is why we should stop getting shocked that our plans to wake up early (especially while on holiday) fail. Miserably.

And if you're feeling as fuzzy as we were and just want something pretty to flip through, click here
Coastal India Day 2 photo blog

Blurry eyed and not so bushy tailed we made our way to the breakfast room to be greeted with this and an array of the freshest fruits -musk melons, papaya, water melon and the sweetest golden mangoes

Its no wonder the French never wanted to leave.

Paradise found

Our second trip to the Chunnambra boathouse yielded better results. The first boat supposedly leaves at 9:30am but thats only if they get 10 passengers, the minimum headcount required for a motor boat. We hung around taking in the scenery and absorbing an entire year's quota of Vitamin D. 8 other people eventually showed up and we were off!

Paradise beach we're told is the only sandy beach in Pondicherry. The rest, like the Promenade have gotten eroded over time. It lies at the mouth of an estuary so its essentially a sandy stretch with the Bay of Bengal on one side and backwaters on the other.
The boat ride was calm and lasted 15 minutes. We docked at a jetty on the estuary side of the beach and stepped onto what could easily pass off as a virgin beach. There's one shack that serves beer and munchies but it was too early in the day for alcohol (I'm shocked at myself for saying so). We waded into the water strewn with floatsam and admired the pretty shells. Swimming is not allowed for reasons best known to the people who put up the sign.

The long and winding road

Having had enough of paradise, we made our way to the ECR, better known as the east coast route. It runs, no prizes for guessing, along the east coast. A proud road sign announced that we were entering the 'ECR scenic beach way' which we discovered was a bit of an exaggeration. We caught some snatches of 'beach views' at the beginning of the 100km drive from pondicherry to Mahabalipuram but that was it. The rest of the drive was pleasant. Passed some dazzlingly white salt pans and a very broad, green creek enroute. Reached Mahabalipuram at 130pm. 

The monoliths of Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram, in our opinion should be the top contender for the title of 'temple town'. 
Shore Temple, the most famous temple in Mahabalipuram dates back to the 8th century and is said to be one of 7 to be made by the second Pallav king. It was made using the 'build' style which resembles modern day construction in the sense that its made in layers with mortar to hold them together. The mortar was made of sand, lime, palm sugar, walnut and egg white. Yummy!

The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva his son Karthikeyan and lord Vishnu and is the only one of 7 temples not submerged under water.  Story goes, during the 2004 tsunami the sea had receeded a few kilometers and two more temples were spotted for about 10 minutes, only to be engulfed by the sea again! 

The 5 Rathas, equally fascinating, are monoliths dating back to the 7th century made by the first Pallav king Mammala, from who the town gets its new name (mammalapuram). Each rath or chariot is dedicated to one of the Pandavas. The Rathas were never completed because the style of architecture changed and the 'build' style caught the new king's fancy.

Arjuna's penance, Krishna's butter ball and the Varhara cave were some of the other monuments we visited, all of them within walking distance of each other. 

The Internet recommended we have lunch at Moonrakers and we obliged. It was slightly reminiscent of a large shack in goa (complete with 'phoren' tourists) and the food was just as good (or as bad). We ordered a mix seafood rice with calamari and masala fried fish on the side. 

Sated with the food and drunk from all the sun we made our way back to pondi to update our blog and tell you all about our trip

Stories from the entire trip
Day 1 -> Bangalore to Pondicherry
Day 2 -> You just read it 
Day 3 -> Pondicherry to Rameswaram
Day 4 -> Rameswaram to Kovalam
Day 5 -> Kovalam to Varkala
Day 6 -> Varkala to Kannur
Day 7 -> Kannur to Bangalore 

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