Mamallapuram, a town on the east coast of India, boasts far more history than seems fair for a small coastal town.
Famous for the 1400 year old Shore Temple, a marvel rock carving of 300 sacred cows and bronze statues of Shiva and Vishnu set against rolling green waves, it would be enough for this bustling, industrious, town.
But turn inland for a mere 1o minute walk and you will discover more amazing temples from the Palava era of kings and queens. These are the five Rathas which the British dug up from underneath layers of sand 200 years ago. Until then they were buried. Each one is dedicated to different gods – Durga, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesh. The big lion and elephant are the guards!
With Pondicherry not far away, remnants of the French era remain in the tasteful culinary delights of the French restaurant Nautilus (it was a long overdue steak and chips, let me tell you). To stay, the adjoining Vinodhara Guest House was a budget but clean place to rest your head with most creature comforts and wifi.
Mamallapuram reminds you of something between Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom and the temples of Petra. Good to discover.