On our way back from Pondicherry, we took a little detour to visit the Mahabalipuram Sea Shore temple which is one of the most beautiful temple ruins I've seen. The long passage way to the temple has the Bay of Bengal waters surrounding the vicinity. A childhood experience came back to me when I saw a conch seller selling conchs in all wonderful colors and sizes. My grandfather used a conch as a paperweight for his office work. My sister and I would often creep into his office during his afternoon siesta and place the conch against our ears, to listen to the sound of waves. Quite incredible how that happens.
The Sea Shore temple is one of the first examples of Monolithic sculptures in India. It was built during the pallava dynasty by King Narasimhavarman. It was terribly hit by the Tsunami in 2004 with a few engravings and some stone structures still holding it up. What is actually destroying it now is the salt content in the wind that causes the designs carved on the wall to fade.
The side of the temple is lined with a string of street food stalls selling roasted peanuts and fruits. Craftsmen display their handicrafts in front of their shops showcasing their skills in great detail. Bubbles would often run to the pilgrims to try and get them to pet her. They would just shriek and run in the opposite direction.
After taking almost an hour to reach the beach, (not because of how far it is but because of the number of times we stopped to get hydrated) Vijay, Ben and I went to the shore in the peak of the heat.
A dark man wearing parallel navy blue pants and a checked cotton shirt walked towards me.
He asked in pure Tamil,
"Please can I keep my belongings here?"
I said "Ya ya sure no problem."
He replied, " You won't steal it no?". I laughed and promised not to steal it.
He quickly took off his clothes and ran at lights speed towards the waves in his white underwear.
His name was Pandi and he hailed from a village called Mallur. He tried convincing my cousin Vijay to go with him deeper into the sea to catch a flag that he found floating in the distance. I don't think I've ever seen anyone enjoy the sea as much as he did. He would jump off the big rocks and the only thing shining as bright as the sun were his teeth.
After buying a singing bowl for little Ben, stopping by at another beautiful temple and interacting with a South Indian sardar who helped me find film rolls, we departed to Bangalore and bid farewell to this little beach town.