After a relatively short journey from Pondicherry we reached the last stop on our India adventure, Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram is situated on the coast in the Bay of Bengal. It is quite a tourist haunt for many locals “especially at weekends” as well as international visitors. The main area of the town is called fisherman’s colony . Which consists of one main street leading down to the sea. Here you will find plenty of shops restaurants and gift shops. Like I said quite a tourist trap. There are some interesting sights to see here, like The Shore Temple. The Shore Temple is sited on a small peninsula of land overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The Pancha Rathas or Five Rathas. Are five temples shaped like chariots, each carved out of a single piece of stone, which date back to the seventh century. Krishna’s Butterball is a huge rock measuring some 6 metres tall and 5 metres wide and weighs some 250 tons. It precariously sits on a slope and looks like it can roll down at any minute. In 1908 the then governor of the town Arthur Havelock tried to move the stone because of health and safety reasons, with five elephants, but had no success, quite amazing really. Arjunas Penance, also know as The Decent of the Ganges, is a huge rock carving, measuring 29 metres long and 13 metres tall. Legend says that it is the decent of the Ganges from heaven to earth. Another must visit is Crocodile Bank Trust, which is a few kilometres from Mahabalipuram. Now when it comes to visiting places which involves animals we are very choosy indeed, as there are so many places purporting to be “Sanctuary’s, Conservationists, Rehabilitation centres,which are no more than a glorified tourist trap where they treat the animals badly just to make a lot of money. So we did our research and from what we had read we decided to visit. Crocodile Bank Trust was formed in 1976 by Rom and Zai Whitaker with the goal of protecting the three species of Indian crocodile, the Mugger, Saltwater crocodile and the rarest the Gharial. As by the 1970’s Indian crocodile population was on the brink of extinction. We both really did not realise how many species of crocodiles there were. Today Crocodile Bank has 17 species and has an excellent program of introducing them back into the wild. Entrance fee is just 50 rupees and is open Tuesday to Sunday 09:00 until 17:00
That’s the good side of Mahabalipuram the down side is the beach where all the fishing boats are situated at the end of the main street, is quite frankly filthy rubbish strewn everywhere, from discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles dog and cow excrement not a nice place to walk at all, but if it’s a nice part of the beach you are looking for just walk along the beach away from town past the large Raddison resort for about a mile or so where the beach is much better. There are no sun beds or beach shacks selling drinks food so you will have to take your own towel if you want to sunbath. All that said it is still a very nice place to visit.
On a sad note, during our walk along the beach we witnessed maybe six quiet large sea turtle carcasses. One looked quite recently deceased. We saw no evidence of there demise but I would not be surprised if their deaths were caused either by being caught in a discarded fishing net, or they had eaten some form of plastic. As quite often they think a floating plastic bag is a jelly fish which they eat. I spoke to the owner of our accommodation and he said that this seems to occur the same time each year. Whatever the reason it was a sad sight.
I feel I have to make a special mention about our accommodation The Blue Moon Guest House. Blue Moon is situated a couple of streets away from the main street in a nice quiet location. “I can recommend the room at the very top as it has views over the ocean”. The owner Saravanan is so nice, very helpful and speaks very good English.Blue Moon has basic good clean rooms and serves a good breakfast. So give them a look if you are in the area.
We only ate at two restaurants during our stay. One was Nautilus, the other was Vinodhara Guest House both served good food.