Talking Stones

Theme: Health & Hygiene / Awareness / Education /Culture

Camp Code: FSL WC 211

In the 7th and 8th centuries, the Pallava kings founded a group of sanctuaries along the Coromandel coast of India. Temples in the form of chariots (rathas), pavilions (mandapas), cave sanctuaries and a giant open-air bas-relief which depicts Indian rock cut sculpture at its very best are among the archaelogiocal gems you will find here. Mamallapuram, the ancient name for the place was derived from the name Mahamalla (mighty wrestler) given to King Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava dynasty for his feats of strength, one of 12 Indian kings who never lost a battle. The Shore temple built during the reign of Narasimhavarman II is believed to be one of the 7 Pagodas mentioned by Marco Polo during his travels. The many legends attached to these monuments are well worth a read. Interestingly, Quanzhou, a prominent port city in Fujian, China has recently unearthed evidence of trade links with Mahabalipuram, dating back to the 7th century. Korean and Tamil cultures are also interlinked, with about 500 words sharing the same pronunciation and meaning. Leaving slippers outside the house, green chillis hung outside to ward off evil spirits, and bowing before elders are some common traditions.

The Camp: Mahabalipuram is listed as No. 6 in the list of world heritage sites of India. Our camp will focus on the protection of India’s cultural heritage and sites of historical importance. We will promote sensitivity and respect towards this World Heritage site among school children, college students, tour guides and the community with the cooperation of the Lions Club, Government College of Architecture and Sculpture, schools, local NGOs, and the local Tour Guide Association.

Activities

  • Instil national pride in schoolchildren, make them aware of their rich cultural and historical heritage
  • Awaken your thespian skills with a Street Play along with college students to create awareness of heritage conservation to the locals
  • Help to combat global warming and also create pleasant, green spots by planting trees and flowering shrubs in the community
  • Use your creativity to educate the public on heritage conservation, paint murals in public areas
  • Have lively discussions with college students on the issues of conservation
  • Plastic and other non-degradable waste is choking our oceans and is deathly to marine Do your bit towards maintaining the marine health, join us in a beach cleanup
  • Develop your artistic ability, learn about the 4 main techniques of Sculpture – carving, assembling, modelling, and Who knows, you could be the next Rodin.

Leisure Activities: You can take the cycle trail to explore the sights of this bustling town. Mahabalipuram is known for its myriad, exquisite sculptures, carved out of rock, with just a simple hammer and chisel, which have stood the test of time for centuries. The Panch (5) Rathas, built to resemble pagodas are an exemplary set of rock temples. They are said to depict the Pandava brothers and their queen, Draupadi.

The Varaha cave temple is one of the greatest examples of Pallava art, dating back to the 7th century. Its enchanting location has been used for many an advertisement and movie shoot. The ‘Descent of the Ganges’, or ‘Arjuna’s Penance, is an enormous, rock-cut bas-relief, which depicts both of these significant events in Hindu mythology. The Shore Temple made out of granite chunks is another must-see. Alamparai Fort, a long forgotten trading post was constructed during the Mughal reign in 1736. The ‘Little Israel’ fishermen’s colony is the place to explore local life and listen to their tall tales.

Location: Mahabalipuram is located 60 kilometres from Chennai and 100 kilometres from Pondicherry

Transport:

The nearest international airport – Chennai, Bangalore

The nearest railway station – Chennai

Bus services available from – Chennai, Pondicherry

The exact meeting point will be mentioned in the info sheet

Accommodation: At a rented Guest House or Hostel, with shared rooms.