Travelling through Southern India- Chennai, Mamallapuram, Pondicherry, Trichy, Madurai
I finally made it to Mount Heera Hotel that morning where I slept for five hours. I eventually met up with my two friends, Crystal and Candice later that day and we stayed in Chennai for the night. The next morning we began our journey south- first stop, Mamallapuram!
Mamallapuram was beautiful! Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town boasts some of the most mesmerizing monuments- many hand carved out of solid rock! One of these monuments- a temple- caught my attention before I even laid eyes on it; a town map showing the location of the temple instantly captivated me. Shore Temple, as it was called, sat directly on the beach overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The weather was extremely hot and a large group of people was swimming in the water to the left of the temple, and to the right, a row of beach houses sat directly overlooking canoes on the sand. Although the temple was being renovated at the time of our visit and had scaffolding all around it, I could see every detail on the perimeter of the walls. Motifs of Gods and Goddesses wrapped the structure on every side. After visiting the local monuments, we hit to road towards Pondicherry, a famous French colony south of Mamallapuram.
After a somewhat disappointing time in Pondicherry (losing my camera + extremely hot/humid weather + nothing to see) we continued towards Trichy and Madurai. There was a lot to see in Madurai. Here, I got my first tailored Indian outfit, saw numerous Hindu temples, and was blessed by an elephant (see picture below). Of the temples, the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple was the most intriguing. Designed as a labyrinth, the structure seemed to take you above and below ground, through shops and around sacred niches, and finally to an open courtyard filled with water. Around the perimeter and within its walled compound were 14 Gopurams, or monumental towers that rise upwards of 170ft. Each tower was in the shape of a pyramid and highly decorated with colorfully painted sculptures. After leaving Madurai, we headed towards the western side of south India to Kumily, a magnificent town in the Cardamom Hills.