The Life of Mahabalipuram – My Book Writing Journey

When I did on-site research for my book, I encountered a rich variety of kind, erudite, and passionate people. No book (or anything, really) is a solitary process, and the people whom I spoke to and took pictures of helped me greatly. They were generous with their time and help, so it is only fair that I acknowledge that more explicitly than I did in my book.

Then there is Mahabalipuram itself. It is one thing to see HDR photos of Mahabalipuram’s architectural wonders on Flickr, and another to be able to reach out and touch the sandblasted stone that is massive and delicate all at once. It isn’t really real until you are walking amongst the rock that towers above you. Photographing Mahabalipuram’s structures was an honor, and a great privilege to be documenting such beauty up close. The pictures below depict the people whom I spoke with, along with my work in attempting to capture some sliver of Mahabalipuram’s grandeur through my camera.

Two modern sthapatis are crouching, working on a statue.

Ashok, one of the modern sculptors at Mahabalipuram, taught me a little bit about sculpting and how to chisel away at the rock.

Me in my default photography stance.

K.Subramanian, one of the Sthapaties I extensively interviewed for my book.

Interviewing Professor J.Rajendran, PhD in his classroom at the Government College of Architecture and Sculpture.

Researching in the Connemara Library, one of the oldest libraries in Chennai. Some of the books were so old that they were falling apart; we had to take photocopies of everything.

life of mahabhalipuram book
This cover was a very long process. It was designed by Chennai-based graphic artists from Lemuria Infotech, which meant that we had a very long back-and-forth about what I wanted for the cover. That’s not to take away from his many long hours of work, beautifully rendering the Shore Temple with immense amounts of detail.

Author: Apoorva Malarvannan

My name is Apoorva, and I am currently a high school student in the Greater Twin Cities area. I enjoy reading, writing, speaking, and photography. I have a blog here:


  1. Wonderful.
    Like that video of Ashok sculpting the idol (especially the music – its apt)
    I was wondering about the books in the library – if its falling apart, they should be extra careful about it I suppose.

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