Chennai: Whether the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram will improve the ties between the two nations or not, the visit of two leaders to the sculpture town has both positive and negative outcome for tourists.
“The positive outcome of the visit is that the monuments — shore temple, Arjuna’s Penance and Five Rathas — are now being illuminated in the evening, which is a sight worth seeing. The authorities could have done this earlier,” Mayan Rajesh of Mayan Handicrafts told IANS.
Mayan Handicrafts is a major player in the stone sculpture industry in Mahabalipuram.
Soon after the summit, there was a huge influx of tourists, but they were disappointed when the monuments were not illuminated. Later, the authorities decided to light up the sculptures and also extend the visiting time by three hours to 9 p.m., Rajesh said.
Early this month, Modi and Xi had their second informal summit at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage site housing rock-cut and stone-carved monuments, about 50 km from here, .
Modi and Xi visited Arjuna’s Penance and Krishna’s Butter Ball — a gigantic boulder weighing about 250 tonnes seated on a short incline — and took photographs. Though it may seem the boulder would roll down anytime, it has been there like that for aeons.
The negative outcome is that the authorities have decided to charge Rs 40 for viewing Arjuna’s Penance rock-cut monument and Krishna’s Butter Ball from Saturday. It was free earlier.
In the case of foreign tourists, the fee is Rs 600.
“Earlier, the tickets — Rs 40 (for Indians) and Rs 600 (for foreignors) — were for viewing the Shore Temple and Five Rathas. And now Krishna’s Butter Ball has come under the ticketing,” Rajesh said.
He said one can view the Krishna’s Butter Ball from the road but for going near it a person should have a ticket.
Further, the vendors and parking are now strictly regulated.