Our journey starts at Mamallapuram, a small and town right by the bay of Bengal. The are sandy beaches where you can wiggle your toes into the sand and take a swim and inhale the fresh smell of the sea. What better place to start a tour? The small coastal city has however more to offer. There are remnants of temples and kingdoms hewn out of granite rocks reflecting the wealth and riches of centuries of culture and trade. Here you will stand in front of the massive granite relief, depicting the arrival of the Ganges. One of the oldest mythological stories where the Goddess Ganges (the river) brings wealth to a rain starved land. Its a tribute to water, the nourisher of all things.
The five rathas, five temples (the elements, fire, water, earth, light and ether) have been carved out of single rocks to form a chariot. The temples are said to be dedicated the the 5 Pandava brothers, the hero’s of the epic Mahabharata, where they symbolise righteousness in various aspects, much like the attributes of the elements.
The shore temple once submerged has been excavated some years ago. It stand within a fortress of stone, shielding it from the waves of the Bay of Bengal. Rows of Bulls (Nandi the mount of Shiva) decorate the complex.
If you walk or drive between the monuments, make sure to stop at the numerous stone carvers along the road. Sure they use today more modern means to cut trough granite, yet most of the finer works are accomplished like millennia ago. Even the subjects of their workmanship hasn’t changed, Idols of Shiva, Ganesha and other gods are in high demand and created in all shapes and sizes.