After Tiruvannamalai I decided to pay a visit to Mamallapuram, on the south east coast. Since I had to stay in the area to go once more to Bangalore I thought that it would be nice to spend a few days there. My expectations were quite low. I thought that no beach between Chennai and Pondicherry would be clean enough to take a nice swim but luckily I was wrong. I'm not saying it is a paradise, but for its location it's quite good. The beach just in front of the hostels area is quite polluted, there is garbage and rest of sea animals that the fishermen leave in the sand after they return from fishing but if you walk towards the left side of the beach you'll find a nice clean spot. You need to watch your steps though when you walk on the beach, sometimes you might find pooh just in front of you... human pooh! If you walk to the right side of the beach towards the Shore temple you will find a horrible spot were the sewer water ends in the middle of the sand.
Still, the sea water looks pretty clean although in some occasions you can find a plastic medusa swimming next to you :-P Hey.. wait a minute.... I just found some strange pimples in my torso.... hmmm. This is also a good spot for surfing which gives a slight surf style to the town and the lovely innocent Indians from Tiruvannamalai became the I-am-a-cool-Indian-surfer-smoking-weed-bro.
Everybody seems to be your friend here. If you walk on the main road (Othavadai St) that leads to the beach you will hear all the time "my friend how are you" and they will try to shake your hands. They will start a small chat that will inevitable end in "Do you want to come inside my shop/restaurant? I save this t-shirt specially for you. Like some stone carvings? Maybe later? Ok see you later friend". It can be a bit annoying specially if you stay for several days cause they don't stop asking the same questions again and again. I know this happens in many places around India but here it is a bit extreme even though it is off season.
And the food.... just average. I try almost all the restaurants on the beachside and the seafood was disappointing but at least you get the nice view. There are also many restaurants in the Othadavia St with Ok food. The best place is "Le Yogi". They have the best food, nice atmosphere and it is an excellent spot to meet other travelers. And If you want to save money a good spot (if you don't mind eating with one hand while scaring the flies away with the other one) is a hotel restaurant 100% Veg that is just at the end of the Othavadai St after crossing the main road, East Raja St. The thali (Indian menu) is 50 rupees. A friend recommended me another place even cheaper called "Hotel Friends" on the Tirukkalikundram Rd. just around the corner of the East Raja St. He said that from outside it looks a bit crappy but the food is good. I went there but I didn't dare to get in, I guess I'm not that adventurous :-P
On my third day I spend a few hours visiting the temples around. For 250 rupees I was able to visit the Five Rathas and the Shore Temple. Well, actually after the Five Rathas I lost my ticket so I couldn't enter to the Shore Temple but I think there was not much to see, it probably looks nicer from the beach. When I went to the Five Rathas I thought it would be a very big place; you know.. the "Five" made me think that it would be like "Five" big temples but it was actually something pretty small and there is a fence around it so you can see everything just from outside. Yeah I know, I should read the guide before.
And for the rest just relaxing. My room was decent (after I spend a couple of hours cleaning it and getting rid off all the ants). I can't complain, I wanted to pay cheap so I got a cheap place. It was in an old building next to the beach. My room was not in the front facing the beach but in the side of the building so at least I had a bit of view.
So I wouldn't recommend Mamallapuram as a tourist destination but if you are in Chennai it would be like paradise. From Pondicherry it is also a nice journey, only two hours I think. Maybe I'm a bit too hard cause I've been before in Kovalam Beach in Kerala and Palolem Beach in Goa, but Mamallapuram is not only a beach destination, it is also a place to see beautiful stone carvings and a lot of nice temples.