HOME                                                                                   My visits to Mahabalipuram  (now called Mammalapuram)

From 1984 until 2011 my visits to India started and finished with a visit to Mahabalipuram, about 42 miles from Chennai airport down the East coast road. This is a fishing village which is remarkable for its famous Shore temples. Entry was almost free but after it became a World heritage site it became expensive for non-Indian visitors. The 7th - 8th Century temples were carved out of solid rock and carving of granite is still important. There were rarely any western visitors in my earlier visits. In later years, especially after the tsunami, the were more German and Dutch visitors. There were many excellent restaurants in the town and on the beach.

These pictures are more personal than many of my other India pictures as the visits were always reunions with old friends or farewell events.


There is an excellent set of pages covering all aspects of Mahabalipuram in Wikipedia


  1984   1993   1998/1999    2001   2002   2003   2004    2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2010    2011   The Shore temple in 2002
  1984    I was taken here by my friend John Prabakhar    
  Carved out of solid rock Arjuna's Penance.
  The Shore temple from the side away from the village In close-up
TOP Cobra with mongoose Washing up
  Inside the temple complex
    Surya with our cheeky guide One of very many stone carving workshops
     1998 or 1999  
  Our resort (with Surya)
  With Surya on the beach In a favourite little restaurant
  View from our resort View from near the temples. Nearer buildings are beach restaurants; further ones include our 'resort'
TOP Sons of fishermen mending their nets. My friend on the right (called Tamil) is guarding my bag for me View of Shore temple from the far side
     2003    With Surya Prakash, staying at the Golden Sun resort we used for many years
  The Shore temple Our favourite resort on the Kovelong road toward Madras
  The Shore temples A worshipper at sunset
  Wonderful pool, Bourgainvillea and the poolside rooms where we stayed The resort beach 'hall'
  A 4-man fishing boat A 2-man boat made up of planks of light wood tied together
  Mending nets in late afternoon Fishermen chatting
TOP Surya always needed to be doing some work Buying gifts for home from the small Kashmiri shop
    2004   Imran came with me  
  Sorting the meagre catch in the morning. Shore temples are on the horizon. This is just next to The golden Sun
TOP Our room is one of these Imran chatting up a rare Dutch lady visitor
    2005   I came here with Imran, an engineering student I had met a few years previously to stay, as usual, in the Golden Sun Beach Resort. We arrived only 4 weeks after the 2004 Boxing day Tsunami (Dec. 26th). I was greeted by the manager with a Welcome again sir, we have recently washed your room and provided new furniture. The water went up to 20 cm from the ceiling. No one was lost in the Tsunami but many parts of the resort were damaged. Most evidence was cleared away and some rebuilding done. The pool was cloudy and salty. There were very few fishing boats and most of the beach buildings were damaged. They achieved a lot in the last month and even more during the month i was in Tirupati. Go to my pictures of 2006 to see the successful restoration work
  The were prtected from the tsunami by a barrier of rocks From the temple area looking towards beach resort area
  View from our room The beach 'hall', almost destroyed int he tsunami but rapidly rebuilt
  The rebuilt beach hall  
  Everyone struggling to get back to normal Discarded gods. Significant?
TOP Shore temple at sunset As always Imran has the last word
     2006    An unusual visit. I started my visit with Imran. On my return trip with Madhu there was no room at the Golden sun so we stayed in the posh Temple Sands Resort. There were far more European visitors (mainly German), who had come to see what there generosity had achieved in helping after the tsunami.
  Our usual Golden Sun Resort with happy Imran on beach by the resort
  New fishing boats donated by German churches The old 6-plank variety. Still a lot of tsunami rubbish in background
  Evening net sorting
  Small modern shore temple, rebuilt with help from Germans Fishing now recovering - north of Golden Sun
  In Temple Sands Resort Madhu enjoying the luxury
TOP Beach boys
    2007    A very special visit to Mahabalipuram because Liz was able to join me. Gopi came with me on way back
  With my friend John Prabakhar who had arranged for us to be met and taken to the VIP lounge at Chennai John in his usual organising mode in the Golden Sun dining room
  Our sunny route from our room to dining room
  Our favourite beach restaurants More favourites
  A tiny part of the huge carving of Arjuna's penance Detail and sadhu
  The sadhu Another who shook his umbrella at me when I did not give him anything
  Up on the rocks overlooking a concert stage The far side of the temple area
  Evening farewell to the sea
  Having tea at the Silver Sands hotel, furhter North up the beach Evening visitors
  Another boat gift Farewell Dinner during late afternoon storm
  On my later trip on way home with Gopi My favourite view from temple area
TOP Not a lot to feed goats here Pool and dining hall Gopi. Thanks to a great friend Worn out; time for home
  Our 'open' restaurant at the Golden Sun Resort Madhu at the pool
  Fishermen at sunset
TOP   Goodbye
  Back with gopi

The usual destination of our beach walk

  Some of our favourite restaurants
  They still use the small 6-plank boats

Sorting the fish with help from the crows

  I don't know what these structures are for but they are immediatly adopted as rest or play things
  I was invited to come up but that was a challenge too far  
  Time for rest
TOP I love the colour and jumble of the evening
  Moin, a very great friend The Golden Sun Dining room. A wonderful place
  Entrance to our room in Golden Sun Resort This is what Moin reads for fun.
  The route up to main village Our usual favourites
  Preparing a 6-plank boat The launch
  No outboard motor. Using planks as paddles
  On beach opposite Golden Sun. Unpleasant security who felt it was their job to drive away locals selling stuff to rich spoilt tourists
  Crow guarding the prepared fishing net Adapting to tourists. Using their boat for Russian tourist
  The lighthouse at the end of the village Hurrying home before sunset
TOP A new shore temple Probably visiting the temple End of day
  2011    This was my last visit. With Moin again  
  In Golden Sun Resort. View fro our room of the pool area and dining room Moin in dining room
  Early evening light on Moin and our restaurants She came dancing up to sell us necklaces
  View from the rocks by the Shore temples My friendly fishermen
  Can't remember if going in or out
  Temple viewed from far side Far side beach
  One photo sir. Bringing a bit of joy
  Carvings like these are so famous theyare shipped all over the world A fortune teller. The parrot picks a card to determine your fate
  Playing on the rocks near the lighthouse
  Enjoying the evening sun My last sunset in Mahabalipuram
TOP A rare sight - actually going into the water A school trip