And another from the past.
We flew into Chennai for our tour of southern India. Once called Madras, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu on the Coramandel coast.
So the first thing to do is walk around near the hotel. In India this is always a great thing to do. The streets are always full of colour and drama and nobody seems to mind you taking photos. We walk wherever we like, possibly a little unwisely. But we have never felt unsafe, people here live so much of their lives on the street that they are used to being looked at even by obvious foreigners.
Then time at the fantastic Marina beach. It runs from Fort St George to Foreshore Estate. This lovely clean beach has many stalls selling food and even horse riders.
The next day we travelled by road the short journey down the coast to Mahabalipuram.
Krishnas butterball, also called the Sky Gods Stone, is a massive boulder weighing twenty five tons. It balances on a slope and looks precarious but is unmovable. The story is that this giant rock is a stolen dollop of butter dropped by the gods. The whole area was crowed with locals who took photos and tried to push the rock.
The Pallava kings ruled southern India between the fourth and ninth centuries. Their style of architecture began with rock cut temples joined to pillared halls. The best example is Arjunas Penance. Also called Descent of the Ganges. This giant rock relief is 96 by 43 feet and carved into two blocks of pink granite. The story is that the Ganges descended from heaven to earth so its waters have supernatural powers.
Then came rathas. These were huge long carved stones which were not temples as they were never consecrated. Shaped like a chariot they are named after characters in the famous ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata
Later shrines were made of stones and mortar like the nearby Shore Temple.
Just time for a walk along the shoreline before dinner.