Mamallapuram Gets a Facelift : Modi-Xi Informal Summit

The seaside highway leading to Mamallapuram from Chennai is a lot quieter now with the message of Swachh Bharat being echoed all the way as the ancient temple town decks up for an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Both flanks of the highway have turned a plastic-free zone. Grass mowed to precision, wild shrubbery chopped off, flickering street lights replaced, and petty shops and hawkers removed — the town is a lot cleaner and greener ahead of the October 11-13 high-profile event.

About 30 km from Chennai, Mamallapuram was declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its monuments of 7th century AD. Restoration work was expedited and cleaning completed as the two leaders are expected to visit Arjunar Tapas, which depicts Arjuna’s penance to please Lord Shiva; Krishna’s butterball or the mythical drop of butter for Lord Krishna simulated by a large boulder perched precariously on a rock slope as if it might roll down any moment; the Five Rathas or the five monolithic temples built in the reign of Pallava king Narashimavarman-I; and the famed Shore Temple, a sea-facing monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. A statue of Buddha has come up outside the Shore Temple for a cultural connect.

The whole town has gone under a security blanket for the summit. This is the second edition of the Modi-Xi informal summit. The first one was held at Wuhan, Hubei, in April 2018, which was considered the flashpoint that revived ties between the neighbours after the Dokalam standoff.

There is, however, a discontent among the residents. While the beautification has made them happy, they are displeased with surfing schools being asked to stop all activities for 10 days, fishermen barred from venturing into the seas from October 4 and roadside shops knocked down. 

No comments: