Ascending the spiral staircase we reached the reached the top of the lighthouse and walked through the tiny door leading to the deck. The view was memorable - we could see the entire town from the lighthouse - the shore and the endless bright blue sea on one side, and miles of land on the other. We stayed at the deck for about ten minutes admiring the beauty before walking back through the door and down the spiral staircase. En route to the butterball, we treated ourselves to a few slices of raw mangoes, followed soon after by ice cold water. We were intrigued to find quite a few other Zoomcars in the area -
The last place we visited in Mahabalipuram was the Shore Temple. Well, the temple is said to have been built in in the 8 th century during the reign of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II. Constructed with blocks of granite, the temple overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple looked great against the backdrop of the clear blue sea. We treated ourselves to a packed of orange juice before stopping for lunch at a restaurant called Border Parotta.
Left with about 5 hours on our hands until the vehicle was to be returned, we wondered what all we could do. We narrowed it down to 2 options - Crocodile Bank and DakshinaChitra. As we weren't sure how long the Crocodile Bank would stay open, we chose to visit DakshinaChitra instead. Dakshinachitra is a museum capturing, showcasing and celebrating the essence of the South Indian culture over the ages.
The houses constructed in DakshinaChitra have been purchased (they had been given for demolition by the original owners), taken down, transported and reconstructed. There are houses from the four South Indian states - Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in addition to other attractions. We spent a couple of hours looking at different houses and admiring our ancestors for the amount of thought they put into designing homes. We left for Chennai at about 6pm.
The drive back to Chennai was pretty eventful - we decided to listen to Atif Aslam. After overdosing on "Aadat" (I guess listening to 4 different versions of the song was really a bit too much for us) we switched back to the rock music we were listening to earlier in the day. I was surprised to find that in spite of really slow moving traffic and really long wait at the signals, we somehow managed to reach the car drop point almost half an hour before the scheduled time! Dropping the car off, we walked a little before bidding each other bye.
If you are planning to visit Mahabalipuram in the near future, here are a few pointers that might help-
- The afternoons at Mahabalipuram can be too hot. Check the weather conditions before you plan. Sunscreen highly advisable.
- In Rahul's words, "The place is best for a school trip or for history buffs." There are a few places to visit and one can visit all the tourist spots in less than 3 hours on a moderately crowded day. I don't have much of an idea about trekking though.
- Carry enough water - 1.5 litres per person should ideally suffice.
- If you do plan to visit the place just to see the attractions, don't miss out on the lighthouse and the lighthouse museum. It was the highlight of the day for me.
- They have one ticket for all the archaeological monuments at Mahabalipuram. However, the lighthouse and the museum are not included in this and tickets for them need to be paid for separately.
- If you don't have your own vehicle it might be advisable to rent one. It is more convenient than the buses. Zoomcars offers fairly good deals on cars and is easy on the pocket. The deal we got was ₹1000 for 10 hours and 100km and ₹12 per additional km. The entire trip cost us ₹2200 (including the food, travel and attractions)
This post was originally published on A Roller Coaster Called Life.