Asia, Travel

From Crocodiles to Temples

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On Sunday, mum and I flew from Bangalore to Chennai for the second leg of our India visit.  Chennai holds a very special place in mum’s heart as it’s the first place in India that she ever visited.

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After a ‘brief’ meeting that ended up lasting 4 hours, we decided to play tourist and check out what the East Coast Road from Chennai to Pondicherry had to offer.  Of course, we ended up at none other than a crocodile park…

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Hello Mr Croc, what big teeth you have!  I’m sure he was just happy to have his photo taken.

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Coming around the corner, this family pounced on me once they saw my camera and requested “photo, photo, photo”, dragging their confused children to pose in front of me.

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There were crocodiles of all sizes, shapes, and even some mouldy looking ones.

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Some tortoises and snakes were thrown in too for good measure!

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Once leaving the crocodile park, we continued up the East Coast Road, dodging cows and goats, until we came to Mahabalipuram.  The first place we stopped was where Krishna’s butterball is, a massive natural rock boulder in the shape of huge ball, precariously balancing on a smooth slope at a 45 degree angle.  In Hindu mythology, Krishna had an insatiable appetite for butter, and as a child, would often sneak a handful from his mother’s butter jar.

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Not sure mum quite understood the whole photo opportunity here.

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Something that I have noticed since being in India is that people want to either take a photo of you or with you.  It doesn’t really bother me too much as I get the impression that many Indians in the less westernised areas haven’t come into contact with many, if any, white westerners.  This guy, however, made me feel the most uncomfortable since I’ve been here as he grabbed hold of my hand when his friend held the camera up and I didn’t want any confrontation so I just let him!

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There are so many strays wandering around the streets and this little guy grabbed our attention when he bounced around after us.  I wanted to call him Toby and bring him home with us!

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We went on to visit the five monuments in the Pancha Rathas complex.  Each resembles a chariot and is carved out of a single, long stone.  They cannot be classified as temples as they were never consecrated due to them not being completed following the death of Narasimhavarman.  As a result of this, the purpose of their construction is still unknown.

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We stopped at the Nandi bull and mum told me to whisper my wishes in his ear.  He is the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva’s house and it’s believed to be important to seek his blessings before praying to Shiva.  By whispering our prayers into his ear, it will induce him to act as our messenger.

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We hopped back in the car and the driver took us to our final destination of the day which was the Shore Temple, overlooking the Bay of Bengal.

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There is a myth that the Gods were jealous of the architectural elegance of the monuments of Mahabalipuram, and as a result they caused floods to occur, which submerged most parts of the city, except for a few structures that are seen now.  Forget tectonic plates, this is apparently the reason for the devastating 2004 tsunami!

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4 thoughts on “From Crocodiles to Temples”

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