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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chennai, Mahabalipuram, and Malanai

The flight Wednesday night from Bangalore to Chennai was uneventful.  

Thursday morning, I was taken on a guided tour of Mahabalipuram, an archeological site on the shore of the Bay of Bengal near the city of Chennai (formerly Madras).
Goats resting in the parking lot at Mahabalipuram

 This Sixth Century temple was excavated from sand dunes about 100 years ago.  There once were six temples here, stretching toward the sea, but the others now lie beneath the Bay of Bengal.  One more is said to have appeared briefly during the ebb flow of the Tsunami of 26 December, 2004.

Mahabalipuram is a fishing village.  The fishermen are said to have been heading to sea when they felt the sea falling, and to have returned quickly to warn the village.  The water is said to have covered the village to a depth of 15 meters.  As a result of the fishermen's warning, the village had been evacuated, and no one in Mahabalipuram was killed by the Tsunami.

The slightly-inland Temple of Five Chariots is a monolithic sculpture.  Its reliefs relate the legend of a man named Arjuna, who is said to have left his mother and four brothers to go into the jungle to do penance.
For twenty years, he stood on one leg with his hands folded above his head.  After this time, a Hindu God appeared, and gave him a power (the guide said it was a bow and arrow).  Still he stood in penance, until a beautiful girl became attracted to him, and one day asked if he was still bound by his penance.  He told her "I am bound no more.  the Goddess has given me power."  She said, "Then come and I will marry you."  So, he took her to his mother's house.  But when he arrived, his mother was in a bath, so he called to her, "Mother, I have completed my penance, and I am home.  Come out, I have brought you a gift."  She called back to him, "That is such wonderful news, my son, that I need no other gift from you.  Please instead share it with your four brothers."  Hence, the beautiful young woman took five husbands, and the monument represents five chariots, five places for shaded rest, and a nearby cave sculpture has five sleeping chambers.

While in the Chennai area, I am staying on campus at GLIM, Manamai, the Great Lakes Institute of Management. 
The Tower of Reflection at the center of the GLIM Campus

The Great Lakes referred to in the Institute's name are Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Eire, and Lake Ontario, all in North America.  The school's founder and dean, Dr. Bala V. Balachandran, is still a faculty member at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, and has a home in Northbrook, Illinois, where my Nana (the late Sophie (Voltz) Brueggeman, 1877-1967) spent her childhood at the family farm on Voltz Road.  Dr. Bala used to live in Wilmette, and two of his sons attended my high school, New Trier High School in Winnetka.  

Da, da!  There are no coincidences.  Adevarat!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos, history, story...the whole thing. Love that you keep us in the loop!
    Safe travels. Jan


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