A few weekends ago, on a work trip to Chennai, it seemed a good idea to visit Mahabalipuram, only 50-60 km away, I’d only seen it in passing before but I was fascinated by the architecture, so different in style & scale from the typical South Indian temple type. Like many parts of Tamil Nadu, it has an ancient history, and was known as a sea port at least 2000 years ago. Most of the structures were built in the Pallava era of Narasimhavarman I in the 7th c. AD. The Pallava line ruled from Kanchi nearby for nearly 400 years and played a major role in the development of art, architecture and culture here. Buddhism & Jainism flourished here as well.
The town itself has a pleasant laid-back feel, old courtyard houses lining the narrow streets converted to guest-houses now, and cafes where you can get all sorts of fare from banana pancakes to seafood. It was particularly relaxing with the monsoon rain making the weather pleasant. I spent Sunday morning sketching the Shore Temple with it drizzling around me and barely noticed when the sun came out and ended up with a sun-burnt neck & arms for my pains- Ouch! I think it was worth it though!
The Shore Temple, dedicated to Shiva is pretty much the main attraction here, it used to be partially submerged by the sea for centuries, but now a retaining wall is built and a stand of casuarina trees as wind-breaker planted. Sadly damage has already been done by sea water and wind to the sculpture. The scale is very much human with narrow spaces sometimes in the perambulatory paths. The 2nd shrine is dedicated to Seshasayi Vishnu. There is a pretty large courtyard with rows of Nandi sculptures.
I’m finally using my water colour markers and I absolutely love them, I couldn’t get enough of them. This was my first attempt with using them.