Ian Lockwood


Slowly Through Past Pallava and Chola Kingdoms (Part I)

with 3 comments

Gopuram and tanka at the Sabhanayaka Natraja Kovil, Chidambaram

“The journey is the destination” and this summer after flying into India from Colombo we moved slowly from Chennai southwards to the hills.  Starting in Egmore we took a rented vehicle and were able to visit Mamallapuram, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Gangkondacholapuram, Tranquebar, Swamimalai and finally Tanjavur before ending up in the cool heights of the Palani Hills. The images in this post were taken during this visit using a digital SLR and then reworked and polished using Adobe Photoshop with plugins from Nik Silver Efex. It marks the first time that I have not shot a major trip on film.

Gangaikondacholapuram, South-east corner view with Nandi bull.

Gangaikondacholapuram, North-West corner view

Gangaikondacholapuram was a highlight of the temple visit. Many years ago a friend had suggested that I not miss the temple if I was interested in south Indian temple architecture.  Built by Rajendra I (1014-42 CE) the architecture represents the peak of the Chola period. The temple is a slightly smaller replica of the big temple in Thanjavur. But it was the location, lost in an under populated and ignored corner of the district that made it an unforgettable delight to visit on our way to Tranquebar. The Rough Guide appropriately describes it as “amongst the most remarkable archeological sites of South India, outshone only by Thanjavur and devoid of visitors most of the time, which gives it a memorably forlorn feel.”

Shiva and Parvati panel on north entrance of Gangaikondacholapuram's central gopuram.

Earlier we had made a brief stop at the Croc Bank and Mamallapuram on our way south. The Croc Bank remains one of the best educational opportunities for patents that want to imbibe natural history and a love for reptiles in their children. We look forward to Lenny and Amy attending summer camp here in a few years. Mamallapuram, of course is an old favorite haunt thanks to my uncle Michael’s interest in the Pallavas and their ancient port that was based next to where the shore temple now stands. It is also a great place for kids to explore and climb exquisite rock.

Muggers (Crocodylus palustris) basking at the Madras Crocodile Bank.

Lenny, & Amy exploring Tiger caves just north of the shore temples at Mamallapuram.

Two panels from Mamallapuram’s caves: (Left) Trivikrama panel depicting Vishnu as a eight armed giant warrior transformed from a dwarf. (Right) Mahishamardini panel showing Durga vanquishing the buffalo demon Mahisha.

No visit to Mamallapuram is complete without a filter coffee and dosa at Mamalla Bhavan. The manger graciously put up with our kids and my camera.

The Great Penance (Descent of the Ganga) panel at Mamallapuram, an outstanding Pallava edifice carved onto a granite face near to the bus stand.

Written by ianlockwood

2011-07-20 at 7:23 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Fabulous!


    2011-09-21 at 10:02 am

  2. Marvellous! Thanl you Pallavas, Cholas and our own Lockwood.


    2012-01-08 at 11:27 am

  3. […]  “Slowly Through Past Pallava and Chola Kingdoms (Part I).” Ian Lockwood Blog. July 2011. Web. […]

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