Home First, a quick visual recap of my trip so far

Without Geography We're Nowhere





I flew into Mumbai, then went almost immediately to Pune, to stay for 10 days... the home of Madhu, the father of Amolika, with whom I worked in New Jersey




I then trained it to Pushkar, for the camel fair



I caught a bus to Jaipur, where I spent a couple of fairly unexciting days



Then a couple days in Agra, to see the Taj Mahal 




And over to Varanasi for nine days on the Ganges

After traversing the northern tier of India--Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh--I was anxious to escape to warmer climes

So I boarded a sleeper train for the 36 hour journey from Varanasi to Chennai.  Two nights on the train and I was getting restless, though I had some good company in the persons of some Brahmins who are Vedic scholars



After disembarking at Chennai I boarded a bus for the two hour jaunt to Mamallapuram


You can see that I'm now solidly in the south of India

and I'm warm






Mamallapuram is a functioning fishing village, with a sizeable tourist area 




facing the Bay of Bengal




Bringing in the direct-drive engines, after bringing in the day's catch 





mending the nets




  I stayed there two weeks, and used it as sort of R&R, such as New Year's Eve at Gecko Cafe


 India is hard work, and occasional rests are welcome



If you had to choose one word to associate with Mamallapuram, it would be stone.  Nestled against the town is a small hill profusely strewn with boulders 





 and exposed rock surfaces 


One of the largest rock faces in this hill has been sculpted into Arjuna's Penance, a massive open-air bas-relief monolith

 43 feet high, 96 feet long

Here with a stage set up for their annual dance festival



The cleft between the two portions is said to represent the descent of the Ganges River to earth




Check out those elephants, tending their young


Arjunas Penance showcases more than 100 figures of gods and flying celestial creatures, birds and animals, along with human beings and saints.




Not far from Arjuna's Penance is Krishna's Butterball

What keeps it there?

If my boulder rolling days weren't behind me, I'd go looking for a peevee to dislodge it



The hill contains even more structures, known as monolithic architecture--carved out of single pieces of stone


Ganesa Ratha



These remind me of Petra, in Jordan (see my Jordan/Syria blog)




Ramanuja Mantaram


In addition to open-air canvases and monolithic architecture, Mamallapuram's love affair with stone involves over 200 sculptors working in the area



They receive commissions from around the world


Arjuna's Penance also provided the dramatic backdrop for Mamallapuram's annual festival of folk and classical dance

I attended three evenings




One of the best was Uma Ramesh, who performed Bharatanatyam, a classical dance with very expressive gestures--something typical of Indians


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