I have been under two kinds of peer pressure in the past few months.

Firstly I have to lose weight—I don’t want a size zero figure as nobody is going to give me a heroine’s role anymore (at least if s/he were in their right mind). For my knees though a lighter frame to carry would be a boon. It is two years since I started a regular workout. I have introduced power yoga as well. Alas! My metabolism is happy to retain my weight where it was give or take a couple of kilos. “Oh but you have lost inches” says one spark. Another says, “You are much more flexible: and a third says, “You must be hogging”. ‘With a diabetic in the house….no chance of that’ I say. There are just eyebrows raised. I keep imagining myself as a svelte figure as auto suggestion experts advice me. Well! I have achiueved that…at least in my mind.

I have had more success in the second pressure test as the reality shows put it. I never learnt Tamizh, my mother and father tongue officially. I just learned the alphabets sporadically from brothers and Mum and learnt to read. My years on the Tamizh stage made my tongue more flexible with the language, but frankly speaking I was a lazy reader. I can read with good speed but never had the inclination as I could read English much more comfortably. My friends have been talking to me about lovely literature in Tamizh that I should read—especially historical serials that made a big impact on the audience in the 50’s and 60’s written by a editor/fiction writer Kalki. I read one of his serials in transliterated version.

I am on a discard and distribute binge and I suddenly discovered two volumes of another serial of Kalki that was about the Pandian kings in South India and their legacy of Mahabalipuram—a cave and rock sculpture township….it was in Tamizh. I had bought it a few years ago and forgot all about it. I started reading and I am happy to say that I am able to sustain speed and interest. So in this case..peer pressure from my friend Malathi Narayan has worked!!

The UNESCO World Heritage Monuments in Tamil Nadu

Out of the 28 UNESCO World Heritage Monuments in India, 4 are to be found in Tamil Nadu.

Rock carving

Mammallapuram or Mahabalipuram, popularly known among the young-gen as Mahabs is a place that has sun, sea, heritage and feasts for the body and soul for you. The grand work of Chola and Pallava architecture, Mahabalipuram can be reached by an hour and half drive from Chennai.

Mahabartha theme

The eight impressive rathas or chariots are monolithic carvings made out of a single rock and called the “Pancha Pandava Rathas” after the heroes of the great epic Mahabaratha- Dharmarajaratha, Bhimaratha, Arjunaratha, Draupadiratha and the Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha.

You can see how the natural crevice in a rock has been beautifully exploited and a superbly carved relief depicts Arjuna’s Penance along the river Ganga with a multitude of sages and Brahmins performing rituals on either bank. Temples and celestials are minutely carved and wait eagerly to witness the appearance of Lord Shiva. On one side of the frieze you can spot the story of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardana hill to provide shelter to his people.

Shore Temple and Vishnu Temple

Shore temple from the sea

The 17th century Shore Temple built by King Rajasimha has both Shiva and Vishnu shrines and fresh excavations are being made every year. Have a look at the main Varaha Cave, one among many other rock-cut caves. With great forethought, the kings fearing the submersion of the Shore Temple had built a Vishnu temple deep within the land. You can see Lord Vishnu in a supine pose in the Sthalasayana Perumal temple that was one of the earliest sculptured monuments in the area. It was originally built by the Pallava kings with many later day alternations to the temple. It was a meeting ground for kings and artists to discuss art and architecture. You can have a look at sculptors who continue to practise their artistic skills in the traditional way in the many workshops in the town and buy a piece for your collection at affordable rates.

Tiger cave


The Archaeological Survey of India museum on the West Raja Street near the lighthouse exhibits artefacts of Pallava kings like weapons and tools, Pallava sculptures. Enjoy the breathtaking seascape from the New Lighthouse. The old Lighthouse, Olakaneswara or the flame-eyed Shiva was used during the rule of Rajasimha (678 – 800 A.D).

The Frieze

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11,  Nema, Noor, Ordinary Joe, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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4 Responses to PEER PRESSURE

  1. Grannymar says:

    You handled the peer pressure well, and taught us something about the amazing rock sculptures at the same time!


  2. Rummuser says:

    I am not putting any pressure on you, but we are already on the next week’s topic – Culture suggested by me. Some posts are already up including mine.


  3. Grannymar says:

    That big brother of yours is awful Bossy! If you ignore him will he go away? 😉


  4. Rummuser says:

    No Grannymar, he won’t. Part of the perks of being the big brother.


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