Mahaballapuram in motion

I arrived at noon, checked into a great (and cheap) guesthouse, had lunch, and then managed to see the town and its main attractions before evening.

Mahaballapuram is a bit like Hampi in the miniature. It’s got giant boulders and ancient caves and architecture, and in addition a beach on the Bay of Bengal. It’s also known as “Backpakistan”, as it’s a popular destination for western tourists near Chennai. True to a tourist town, one can buy plenty of “Om wear”: shirts and pants in bright colors with Om symbols and ganeshas (than I’ve yet to see on someone who lives here). Also available are tourist items from toilet paper to trinkets. No shortage here.

Wandering away from the stores brings one to the archeological sites, which seem much more interesting. 

On the beach, there’s the aptly named Shore Temple representing Pallava kingdom architecture. It was built in the 8th century, and per Lonely Planet, “is the earliest free-standing stone temple in Tamil Nadu”.


South of town there are the Five Rathas: monolithic 7th century carved structures devoted to various Hindu gods.


On the west side one will find the majority of structures and carvings. The crown gem is Arjuna’s Penance, carved out on two massive boulders depicting both mythological and mundane scenes.


Back in town, the guest house I picked out was peaceful and tranquil, with basic rooms set around a lovely courtyard filled with trees and jasmine vines. Especially at night, the aroma of jasmine was heavenly.


And this marks the end of my time in Southern India. I’m glad I finally made it here. I would say that the people have been very friendly here as well, and it has had more of a laid back feel to it. Or maybe it’s the sight of all the coconut trees swaying in the wind. But anyway, it’s been an enjoyable visit. Tomorrow I fly back north. Way north. I’ll leave it as a surprise for now. Stay tuned and be well!

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

4 thoughts on “Mahaballapuram in motion”

  1. India seems to offer so much in the way of architecture, scenery, and photography. No wonder you wanted to visit as much as possible. Looking forward to your surprise blog regarding the far north.

    Liked by 1 person

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