Do you think it's all right that I go into a certain amount of detail regarding HIndu ways and the things I saw?
Oh, please do! That's one of the things that makes your threads so interesting -- the great background info you provide. For instance, I'd love to know what the lovely blue figure in the tank picture represents.
I am having great difficulty uploading images to ImageShack
Many of the photo-hosting sites seem to be changing their formats or discarding features that users really liked. Please check back to the photo host thread on the Basics subboard in Image Bank. I will add some tips I've figured out & hope others will do the same.
Off and on, all day today, I've tried to think what items I'd miss most. I could, and have, made do with different articles of clothing, but I think being out in strong sun would be tough without a hat and suncreen. It sounds like you made the best of your situation, though it couldn't have been easy.
I am so very pleased that you like my explanations (these may need correction by those who know better than I).... I don't know how the tank drains. I think the water is supposed to come from the river Ganga (Ganges) but that's so far away...maybe it does come from Ganga since the Ganga was created out of the mouth of ? (Brahma?) so possibly could be everywhere throughout India... Indian mythology is quite complicated but, as one gets to know more, a lot of it could be true!
Near the Tank I found this Naga shrine (Naga = snake); which has a big following throughout India.
Here is what Wikipedia says: Snake worship refers to the high status of snakes or (nagas) in Hindu mythology. Nâga (Sanskrit:नाग) is the Sanskrit and Pâli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very large snake, found in Hinduism and Buddhism. The use of the term nâga is often ambiguous, as the word may also refer, in similar contexts, to one of several human tribes known as or nicknamed "Nâgas"; to elephants; and to ordinary snakes, particularly the King Cobra and the Indian Cobra, the latter of which is still called nâg in Hindi and other languages of India. A female nâga is a nâgî. The Snake primarily represents rebirth, death and mortality, due to its casting of its skin and being symbolically "reborn". Over a large part of India there are carved representations of cobras or nagas or stones as substitutes. To these human food and flowers are offered and lights are burned before the shrines. Among some South Indian, a cobra which is accidentally killed is burned like a human being; no one would kill one intentionally. The serpent-god's image is carried in an annual procession by a celibate priestess.
The Nairs of Kerala and Tulu Bunts of Karnataka in South India still carry out these ancient customs
At one time there were many prevalent different renditions of the serpent cult located in India. In Northern India, a masculine version of the serpent named Nagaraja and known as the “king of the serpents” was worshipped. Instead of the “king of the serpents,” actual live snakes were worshipped in South India (Bhattacharyya 1965, p. 1). The Manasa-cult in Bengal, India, however, was dedicated to the anthropomorphic serpent goddess.
And I myself say that there is equally big following of snake worship in Nepal. The Lord Vishnu sleeps on a giant black curled snake...the Lord Buddha was sheltered from the weather under the flared hood of a giant cobra...and so it goes on.....all very interesting to me.
This is truly like watching a trip unfold, down to the details of how to deal with the climate. Thanks for the information on the presence of snakes in the spiritual systems throughout India and into Nepal. So interesting that the core word can mean both serpent and elephant, with its snake-like trunk.
The temple is astounding, not least because it's still standing & with so much detail despite the centuries of pounding as described in the plaque in your last picture. Is the public allowed to walk within the complex?
I am really enjoying your report and photo's Spindrift. Before I visited Sri Lanka I had never heard of a " tank" as such before, with the particular meaning that it has in Indian sub continent. I don't think that there was a particular religious element to them in SL though, they were literally reservoirs, but as in your photos, so much more "natural" than those found in Europe for example.
I too am keen to know if you could enter the temple, what an amazing building it is. Mind boggling to think it was carved from one piece of solid rock all that time ago.
Yes, in this temple it was possible for anyone to walk inside. There were two separate 'inner sanctums' for Shiva and Vishnu (the great gods, Brahma being the third)....here is Michael entering into a sanctum.
The day we were visiting there were no Brahmin priests around the temple so perhaps they only go there on festival days. In other S Indian temples these priests abounded!
There were few tourists to be seen during the entire 3 weeks. The tourist season was well over, it was very hot, nearly 40degC and not easy to walk around between the hours of 11am to 4pm due to blazing sun overhead, quite near the equator. I was worried about getting sunstroke as we had a schedule where we had to move on to see as much as we had planned. There was little or no time for rest! (unfortunately)...
I should explain about shoes - which are not allowed to be worn inside temples. They have to left outside, usually with a 'wallah' who guards them and is then tipped with rupees when you collect them on your way out. The first day of temple-seeing we left our shoes and had our feet scorched by the hot stones underfoot and we couldn't find enough shade to relieve our pain! Then I remembered that a poster on IndiaMike had mentioned she always took socks with her; so the hunt was then on to find socks...a very limited selection of socks were available in shoe shops; they came in black or grey and were up the knee! but we were pleased to buy them whatever they looked like. From then on we had filthy socks to wash most nights!
I thought it would be nice to post some more pictures of Mamallapuram as I found it to be so beautiful and inspiring in many ways...
Away from our 'fishing colony' part of the beach, at the further end of the beach you can find some 5star hotels such as the Radisson, but we don't like that sort of place so we kept well away. We made friends with the locals living around us. When I first arrived at Mammallapuram I noticed that some people would come out of their houses at night and make their beds in the little lanes, literally on the earth (no paving there) as it was so hot. One night i passed a lady who was eating her supper. I noticed she was eating 'idli' (the local way of cooking rice) and these idli were surrounded by a thick delicious-looking yellowish sauce...I said something nice to her and smiled and she immediately called for someone in her kitchen to bring me a couple of idli and someone else to pour the sauce. Then the whole family watched me eat to see if I liked the food. Dear people, so kind of them. Of course I loved it. After that I never found idli as delicious as she made them.
Super pictures and interesting details, Spindrift.
Are the guesthouses & restaurants marked in English because it's more likely to be understood by travelers from many different countries?
The picture at #43 really explains why you were so taken with that beach. The pictures below it aren't too exotic to me, as they look a great deal like parts of Mexico, particularly the 2nd one in #44. It could be any street in Xoxo, where I was living until recently.
What a lovely experience, to have someone spontaneously share her meal in that way.
Bixa - yes, everything is written in English as well as in Tamil. Not everyone speaks English so well unless it's about something straightforward.
Casi - thank you for your lovely comments.
Also to be found in Mamallapuram are Hindu temples called The Five Rathas. These are fine examples of Pallava architecture. 'Rathas' means 'chariots'(Sanskrit) (of the gods). These ancient temples are carved from single pieces of rock. Being only 300m from the sea they were hidden in the sand until discovered by the British 200 years ago. Outside each Ratha is a carving of an animal mount of the gods. As you enter the temple grounds this is what you see :-
The first Ratha is dedicated to the goddess Durga and her animal is the Lion. Behind the goddess shrine is a huge Nandi (the bull, the vehicle of the Lord Shiva)... The Elephant Ratha is dedicated to Indra. This life-size image is regarded as one of the most perfectly sculpted elephants in India!
I thought that one of these devas looked very tempting...don't you think so?
nI shall have to check up on these but I'm pretty sure this is known as Arjuna's Penance. This relief carving on the face of a huge rock depicts deities, animals and other semi-divine creatures as well as fables from the Hindu Panchatantra books. (Panch - Sanskrit - Five)...
I have a feeling that this relief pictures the death of Lord Shiva...not sure though.
This is the ancient, carved lighthouse
The Victorian lighthouse that the British constructed.
Pancha Rathas (also known as Pandava Rathas) is a monument complex at Mahabalipuram, on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, in the Kancheepuram district of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Pancha Rathas is an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture. Dating from the late 7th century, it is attributed to the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I (630–680 AD; also called Mamalla, or "great warrior") of the Pallava Kingdom. An innovation of Narasimhavarman, the structures are without any precedent in Indian architecture. The complex is under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed by UNESCO as Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.