|The Tiger Cave|
Fancy a bit of culture? This time I'm taking you to Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. These are part of the long-lost photos I rediscovered the other day (see Pondicherry HERE).
Littered with stone carvings, friezes and sanctuaries, Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO world heritage site and dates back to the 1st Century AD.
The carvings were created by craftsmen brought to the area by the rulers of the Pallava Dynasty of South India in the 7th Century.
The area then became an open air school for carvers to perfect and showcase their art.
Even today the predominant noise is of chisel on stone from dawn until dusk (murder if you've got a hangover).
You can spend days wandering around here, admiring the craftsmanship and picnicking under the stones, shooing off greedy goats and hawkers flogging tat.
And once you've had your fill there's some fantastic restaurants and amazing roadside stalls crammed with trinkets, silk dresses from nearby Kanchipuram, hand-made leather chappals and tribal jewellery.
The Shore Temple dates back to the 7th Century. It has been known to sailors since the days of Marco Polo.
The beach is gorgeous and virtually deserted. Most tourists check into the swanky five star hotels set discretely behind, preferring to sit on sunbeds around a swimming pool - crazy fools.
|Approach to the Shore Temple|
A free dance festival is held in village centre in January every year.
Mahabalipuram is well and truly on the tourist trail but time your sightseeing carefully and you won't be bothered too much.
For weeks we sat on the beach and watched the sun rise, listening to the chanting and smelling the incense wafting from the temple next to the beach.
Followed by idli sambar in the bhavan (cafe) by the bus station.
Before rocking out.
We'd sit, chat and share a masala chai with the stone carvers before heading to the beach for a few hours of sunbathing and swimming.
Then we'd return to our room for a shower, a cold beer and to contemplate our plans for later.
Here's where we stayed, Tina Blue View, a family run guest house right next to the beach. At less than £3.50 for the night it's deservedly popular and nearly always full.
Still with me? Hope you enjoyed getting stoned in Tamil Nadu.
See you soon.
See you soon.