Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mahabalipuram

We had a tour guide take us around to some key spots here in Chennai today. We started with the The Devine Seat Of The Creator Surpreme-Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple, then visited the St. Thomas Basilica (only 1 of 3 churches in the world built over the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus Christ, apparently), then St. Mary's (the oldest Angelican church in the world), then finished up with Mahabalipuram. See some highlights below...

The Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple was fantastic, really. The architecture, carvings, artwork were incredible and there were a ton of people there worshiping in some form. The guide told us much of the stories that the carvings and the artifacts were portraying, hard to remember them all, but was very interesting. Of course, we were not allowed to take pictures inside of the actual temple rooms, of the deities, that is strictly forbidden. But got a lot of pics of the buildings. Also note the interesting pond outside that I took pics of, people were buying puffed rice and feeding it to those catfish, was crazy. The guide told us that the catfish were very poisonous (I'm assuming to eat).

Next we drove to the St. Thomas Basilica. As I mentioned above, apparently the church is only 1 of 3 in the world that is built on top of the tomb of one of Jesus's apostles. Legend has it that he came to Chennai to spread God's word, was there for 20 years and was assasinated by a local king with a spear. Apparently, Marco Polo visited the church/tomb in the 1200's and was amazed by the healing powers from the dirt he took from inside the tomb. A pope visited the church and tomb as well (recently, like last 15 years I believe). It was a typical Catholic church, but the significance of the church made it pretty neat to visit for sure.

Not too far from there was a military controlled govenment area, complete with an old fort (that we weren't allowed take a picture of). Inside of the area, we visited St. Mary's Anglican Church. It's the oldest angelican church in the world, built sometime in the 1600's (didn't get the picture of the info on that). Couple of key interesting things about this church are that it was built as "bomb proof" - the ceiling and walls are 5 feet thick concrete, and that Yale was the first person to be married there (who donated his name to Yale University).

Finally, we went to Mahabalipuram. This is an area of ancient temples that were lost for hundreds of years due to being covered in sand (not all, but some). Some of the key areas were discovered by a British archeologist a couple hundred years ago..I think. As the tour guide told us (about 900 times or thereabouts), there are 3 primary architecture styles; stuff carved into hills/rock (like caves and such), stuff carved down from large standing rocks, and stuff that is built as pieces (composed buildings and pieces). All of this was truly amazing - from the rock on the hill that looks like it's going to fall but is perfectly balanced and won't budge, to the huge carvings into the side of a rock hill to huge pieces that started out as just big ass rocks and were carved down from the top, to the cool ass temple built down by the ocean with the elaborate carvings. You need to check out the pictures or search for sites with better pictures than mine. There were a lot of stories told about what was happening in the carvings, but the pictures will do a better job than I can type.

The trip is all but over now, resting in the hotel room, packing and readying to head to the airport (at 1:00am Chennai time). Been a very productive time here and seen some magnificent things. But, so ready to be home with the family at this juncture..

Also, to see all of my twitter updates (while some of you were asleep), visit this.

Andy

2 comments:

Fortune Park Hotels Ltd said...

Mahabalipuram is a treasure house of ancient Tamil art, culture, civilization, & history. A coastal city, Mahabalipuram has an immense place of importance in Tamil history and mythology. This beautiful coastal city of Tamil Nadu is ordained with a number of temples and places of archeological importance. It is not surprising therefore, that because of the overabundance of these places Mahabalipuram is often referred to as a legacy in stone. The unique instances of art, culture and architecture that has been preserved by the kings of the then Pallava dynasty proves to be a delight to the eye even today and it is not for nothing that Mahabalipuram is known as an “open air museum”. The richness of Mahabalipuram has made it one of the most favorite tourist places of South India. Hotels in Mahabalipuram are for tourists from different walks of life. As the place is more of a tourist destination rather than a business one, there are many leisure hotels and budget hotels in Mahabalipuram.

Admirable said...

Nice reading....I will be visiting Mahabalipuram this month.

-Maneesh.
Admirableindia.com