In the very early hours of Saturday 5th November Baale Mane staff and girls loaded on to two buses generously donated by our friends at Red Bus www.redbus.in to begin the journey to Mahabalipuram, a historical coastal town south of Chennai.
The trip was made possible by some extremely generous donations and the following is a short review of the trip to express our gratitude.
The buzz about the trip began well in advance, as did the packing preparations! I was asked daily whether I had finished “packing my dress” and it was thought quite unacceptable that I was planning to do this a few hours before we left. Staff preparation involved dividing the girls into teams, each led by a member of staff and a girl in 1st PUC. The girls arranged pre-trip meetings and spent some time making badges for each of their team mates.
The journey there took longer than anticipated. However that was quickly forgotten as everyone settled in to their dorms, freshened up and had a delicious breakfast at our accommodation. We then went to Dakshinachitra to begin our programme for the day. This consisted of a tour around the cultural centre and exploring the model village of traditional South Indian homes. We watched silk weaving demonstrations and a potter working his magic on his wheel. The girls were then divided into groups in order to take part in some activities including ornament painting and assisting the skilled potter in making some miniature pots.
In the afternoon and evening the girls learned some traditional folk dancing of Tamil Nadu, which was great fun to watch and amazing to see how talented all the girls are! The drumming gradually increased in speed as did the dance moves and after about 45 minutes of this the girls were exhausted but elated and buzzing with excitement!
After this we had a tug of war and pot breaking, which involved a blind fold, a stick and a clay jug filled with water hanging from a string. The aim was to hit the jug and empty the water while blind-folded. This provided endless entertainment accompanied by very loud shouts of laughter at those with blindfolds swiping at thin air!
The following day we boarded the bus for our tour around the temples of Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram. We visited
three different sites with a guide who explained the significance of eachcarvingand temple, some of which are over 2,000 years old. First was the Shore Temple, which as the name suggests, was right next to the beach and absolutely stunning! Then the Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) and finally The Descent of the Ganges and Arjuna’s Penance depicted in relief on a magnificent monolithic rock.
A highlight was seeing Krishna’s Butterball, an enormous round rock balanced on the edge of a stone hill. The girls took great delight in being photographed underneath the ball pretending to hold it up. There was also a particularly slippery section of stone which had obviously been used regularly by visitors as a slide, ending in an enormous puddle at the bottom of the slope. The trick was to try and stop yourself before landing in it!
After a delicious packed lunch came the long-awaited visit to Tiger Cave beach! As you can imagine any child’s reaction when seeing the ocean for the first time, there were gasps of excitement and a mad rush to remove footwear in order to charge into the waves. The girls showed no hesitation and within minutes the majority were wet from head to toe and covered in sand, while staff stood at the side-lines trying to monitor the mayhem! The exception was Lawrence who got fully involved and went deeper into the sea in order to prevent any of the girls from being overly ambitious! It was an incredible sight watching the girls splashing about and playing in the waves and we hope that these photos can give you a sense of the excitement and happiness it gave each of them.
After about an hour and a half at the beach it was time to board the bus again back to Baale Mane, but not before the girls had hastily removed clumps of sand from their hair and had changed into some dry clothes!
Thank you to those of you who supported the trip and made it possible. We all had a wonderful time!
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With love and thanks from the Girls and Staff at
Baale Mane Gopalapura