Thursday, August 2, 2012


The last few posts to this blog have been about my home town, Toronto. For the next while, though, I will be posting about a seven-week trip I took in 2011 with my husband, Paul, to the south of India. The reason for this change is that we are now beginning our preparations for a vacation in England and Germany, and have a long, long list of things to do. Fortunately, I have a lot of already-prepared material that I can quickly post each day here at home and later while we are away.


Paul and I left Toronto on Boxing Day, December 26th, 2010 to fly to Chennai and tour the south of India for seven weeks mainly by train. We had a lot of trouble at the start. After checking that our flight was on time, we left home for the airport only to find, when we arrived, that our plane had not yet left Brussels. 

We finally flew from Toronto nine hours late, spent two hours in Brussels, were re-routed through Delhi having missed the flight to Chennai, spent ten hours or so in Jet Airways’ executive lounge in Delhi, and finally arrived in Chennai about twenty hours late. It was disappointing to miss our hotel reservation at the Accord Metropolitan Hotel. Our plan for the first night in India had been to rest our tired bones in a lovely, expensive place rather than the modest accommodation we normally take.

Lobby, Accord Metropolitan Hotel, Chennai

We took a car and driver to Mamallapuram where we had a hotel reservation. Though very jet-lagged, we enjoyed seeing the 7th - 9th Century AD rock carvings that have given the town a World Heritage designation. More

 Arjuna's Penance, Carved from One Solid Piece of Rock

 Detail from Arjuna's Penance

 Huge rock at the World Heritage Site

 Elephant Carved from One Piece of Rock

Nicely Dressed Lady at Mamallapuram Site

 Tourists at Mamallapuram Site

Mamallapuram was not an attractive town. Perhaps, because it has many visitors, the town has become complacent about cleaning the streets and providing a pleasant environment. Our hotel at Mamallapuram had a lovely dining room, however.  Over breakfast, we spent an hour or so talking to a very nice, interesting Indian lady who had lived most of her life in North America as a university professor. It turned out that she knew two or three of our former professors.

On December 29th, our first evening in Mamallapuram, we saw a delightful performance of Indian classical dance at the outdoor stage with the beautiful rock carving, Arjuna's Penance, as backdrop. Western tourists made up most of the audience. 

The show was presented by a Chennai dance studio and involved one male dancer, who was the owner and main teacher, along with about fifteen lovely young female dancers. These girls, elaborately made-up and dressed in brilliantly coloured pantaloons with bangles on their wrists and jewels in their hair, bent and swayed gracefully to the music, interpreting the dance by slapping their bare feet on the floor and using the graceful, intricately expressive hand movements that are unique to Indian dance. Unfortunately, it was too dark for the camera, though searching Indian Classical Dance on Google Images will produce lovely photos.

The music and the movements of the dancers went back in history for many, many years. It was strange to us but very beautiful -  a memorable occasion which we felt very fortunate to have experienced.

Our next destination was the temples of Kanchipuram, also located in the state of Tamil Nadu.

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