2 Days at Mahabs

What should we do for James’s birthday? The shopping area can’t hold our attention for long.


I know… More stuff to haul 12,000 km… Hmm, the lighter, the better.

For My Mom

How about the 7th century rock carvings and cave temples up the street? How ’bout those teeth!?


I (Dena) am rolling on slow waves of happiness. This is the good stuff. And I, the guy behind the camera above, am just blown away by the art of technology attitude behind the thing, it’s a cool place to go but there’s also no shortage of cool breezes from the Bay of Bengal at the tops of all the cool stuff, well, weird stuff for sure and the weirder the better so, yeah, cool!


Mahabs is another place that draws Indian tourists from all over the country.

3rd Year Students and Dena

What’s it all for?



This has to mean something to somebody, right? Too bad I don’t read this language.


I keep imagining it all as astronomical measuring tools in grand scale. I know for a fact there’s a place like that not too far from here. I mean, look at this:


There’s a place with a sun (maybe):


Opposite what I think may represent a moon. Or fire and water? Or…


I (Dena) know this one!

Not One Thousand and One, Just 53

Shiva lingum as the birth of the universe (below, silly!).

Getting Real

This thing! The meaning of the huge scene is debated, but I especially love the lady on the left’s hairdo and the stretching cat under the elephant tusks. The serpent-woman is a Naga. By the way, the elephant? It’s life-sized, as are the human figures.


I’m figuring this for a shallow basin to hold a Shiva lingum and then…the oil bath?


Or is this a giant oil lamp? Or an astronomical measuring device?


This one is definitely nautical. Yeah, it’s a Second Order Fesnel that had the coolest wind-up clock mechanism (above) inside the tower leading to this (below) incredible light.


This is an active lighthouse and cool looking, it made me (James) homesick, wait, Home?

Lighthouse Figure

Some of the carvings are sculptural; others are geometrical.


The scope and scale of this place are enormous.


Huge.  C’mon, doesn’t that look like a sandworm?

Mansplain This

On the other hand, even the simple pieces take my breath away.


These monkeys aren’t part of the big scene behind them. They’re just hanging out alongside, doing their own thing.

Monkey Fam

This kitty has a flat back and I wonder if he was a throne.


When I start to photo-direct, James is a great model.




In 2004, a tsunami pulled the water back by a couple thousand feet before raging back. When it was done, it had removed tons of sand covering older figures and monuments. Welcome back.


The stone carvings aren’t just ancient, though. As we’ve mentioned before, the Western Ghats are mountains made of marble and granite. They beg for the chisel.


And the descendants of the temple builders keep the skills alive. Some have added power tools to the mix, but there’s a lot of work going on with mallets and chisels and picks.

Brown Statues

For the most part, the subject matter is traditional.


But the crafters have different skills, different specialties, and different amounts of expertise.

Elephant Music

Even with the same elements used over and over, there are fascinating differences.

Of course, birthdays are also about chilling. We managed that handily as well.


We’re staying just off the beach.

Altar Home

Right behind the Rastafarians.

Mahabs Home

The view from our porch.



Going Down

We took far too many pictures to put them all in this post. Go to Flickr. Seriously. It’s worth it.




  1. I’m eating shawarma at a counter space, there’s a new Jordanian fastish-food place near my job. It’s 25 degreesF and windy, risked my life on icy sidewalks to come in here. I’ve wrestled myself from the mire of emails, walk-ins, programs and powerpoints to eat this tasty favorite and spend a breath of time in India with my dear friends. Been looking forward to it all morning.

    I am glued to these posts. I don’t always have words to respond. Believe it or don’t. How can I convey my state of continual awe with these stale unworthy adjectives? The hunger itching in my fingers to stroke the carvings and caress the scarves? The joy of exploring glories and curiosities the travel websites miss, the textures of these site-specific manifestations of the human spirit? Crimson love and a strange unearned pride, watching you two blazing your tandem trail? The poignant pinch of envy and self depreciation that I couldn’t live that life? The longing to direct you — now go left! Now take a picture behind you! — like video game characters? The mixture of wonder, worry, gratitude for your boldness, awe at your ease of movement and engagement and pleasure absorbing?

    Sigh. I’m still not touching it. You will just trust me, then. These posts take me through some deep and swirly stuff. And I am totally with you.

    A few not-enough stray thoughts:
    How did you get so far that fast? You were like 20 hours south yesterday!

    James’ teeth really do look fantastic. Make you look 15 years younger, man. I’m not even into fellas, as you know, but damn you are a good-looking dude.

    You found a lighthouse! Yay! Clapping and cheering for you.

    Gods, you both look so thin. I would worry except I know you are about the healthiest you’ve ever been. Regular hotel veg, sunshine and exercise are a hell of a tonic.

    Dena that picture of you in the archway, getting your life…well. I am teary today. Thumpthump.

    Home. You don’t know the hundred times I have corrected myself saying “when you come home.” I will need hours of slideshows and stories, please. When you come back.

    Last: HAPPY JAMES DAY! Many, many happy returns, my friend. On you plunge, sun and stars blessing your way. Blogspeed.

  2. Ok I just caught that the lady in the checkerboard sari in the tourists picture is chucking duces. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Bawlmer says YO, hon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.