Tracking William Von Mueffling's Portfolio - Q2 2013 Update

Below is a spreadsheet that highlights William Von Mueffling's moves this quarter. Please check-out our SeekingAlpha column for an analysis of the moves:




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ECR to Mahabalipuram Attractions - MGM Dizzee World, Muttukadu Boat House, Crocodile Bank, and Dakshinachitra

There are several attractions enroute from Chennai to Mahabalipuram. They cater to varied needs of the people visiting the area. Below is a summary of the major ones:

MGM Dizzee World:

The theme park (Open 10AM to 6:30PM all days) is located around 40KM from Chennai at Muttukadu on East Coast Road (ECR). It was the best amusement park in the country in the late 1990s but now has a tired look. There are still a large number of rides and overall it is still good value for money for a full-day's entertainment (Rs 500 adults, Rs 400 kids - no additional charges). As with most places in Chennai, hygiene is well below par - toilets are terrible, no proper changing rooms for swimming pool, food options are limited and unhygienic, etc. For such a full-fledged theme park, it is also a shame that parking is on the opposite side of the busy road. Lockers are available. Outside food is not permitted but there are some options inside: Four restaurants including a pure vegetarian and a multi-cuisine restaurant along with kiosks near major attractions providing drinks and snacks. The most popular rides are log flume, giant wheel, spider spin, roller coaster, the funny mountain, dashing cars, and super trooper.

Even though the name might imply connections to the world famous MGM Resorts and Disney World, neither is true. The establishment is M.G. Muthu Group. They also run several resorts including the beach resort adjacent to this property. That resort is excellent but it caters more to corporate events and so tourists may find themselves a bit out-of-place.

Muttukadu Boathouse:

The boat house (Open 9AM to 6PM all days) owned and operated by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) offers row boats, pedal boats, speed boats and water scooters. The location is a backwater area of the Bay of Bengal with a water depth that varies between 3 ft and 6 ft - it is a great place for bird watching. TTDC inaugurated the original facility in 1984 but a major expansion took place in 2009 - a new bamboo boathouse and a floating boat jetty. The boathouse has a multi-cuisine restaurant (Surf, a unit of Coral Group) which provides a panoramic view of the area.

As with most government run tourist establishments in the country, although the location and the concept are excellent, the attraction suffers from a general lack of upkeep, maintenance, and service: pricing is reasonable but the staff are known to ask for tips at every occasion. Also, the times quoted are not adhered to and they generally short-change you so much so that the speed-boat ride finishes almost as soon as it starts. Some boating options are not available, either because of repairs or the staff opting not to give them out - at the time of our visit, water-scooters, a very popular thrill-ride that can reach speeds up to 100 KM/hr was not available as they were all in repairs. Never-the-less, for bird-watchers and for thrill seekers, this is a fairly good attraction to give a try.

Crocodile Bank:

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) and Centre for Herpetology (Open 8:30 AM to 5:30PM, Monday Holiday) is India's leading institution for herpeto faunal conservation, research and education. The crocodile bank is the first crocodile breeding centre in Asia and it covers area of 8.5 acres - 2500 animals are hosted here including 14 species of crocodiles, 10 species of turtles, 3 species of snakes, and 1 species of lizard.

The location is on ECR around 40KM from Chennai and entrance fee is minimal (Rs 35 adults, Rs 10 kids). The Croc Bank grounds are covered by coastal dune forest which provide a great haven for native wildlife such as water birds and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. There are feeding times and occasional demonstrations both of which are worth it.

Caveat Emptor: Although the facility is amazing, people who have no interest in Herpetology may find it not that interesting.

Dakshinachitra Museum:

The Museum (Open 10AM to 6PM, Tuesday holiday) is a village which attempts to preserve South Indian heritage and recreates some of the traditional homes of the four states in South India: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. The facility is the creation of Madras Craft Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose focus is on bringing the hidden cultural wealth of South India to light. It is a not-to-be-missed attraction for anyone interested in the arts and culture of South India or anyone who wishes to live the bygone era for a few hours.

Dakshinachitra (translation - “picture of the south”) is located next to MGM Dizzee World on ECR. The museum is huge (10 acres) and you need at-least a couple of hours to do justice to what is on offer. 

Below is a listing:


  • Craft Shop and Orientation Film at Seminar Hall in the reception area, 
  • Huge Tamilnadu section with Agraharam Brahmin House, Religious Art Exhibition, Art Gallery of retrospectives, Temple Chariot, Agriculturalist’s House (Thanjavur), Textile Exhibition Hall, Weaver’s House (Kanchipuram), Potter’s House (Chengalpattu), Basket Weaver’s Mud Houses (Tiruvallur), and Village Ayyanar Shrine, 
  • Kerala section with Hindu Houses (Calicut & Trivandrum), Cattle Shed,  Granary and Textile Exhibition, Syrian Christian House (Kuthattukulam), and Padipura Gate.
  • Karnatak section with Weavers’ Houses (Bagalkote),
  • Andhra Pradesh section with Ikkat Weaver’s House (Nalgonda), and Coastal Andhra Thatch House with Cattle Shed and Granary, and
  • Miscellaneous: Temporary Exhibitions, Restaurant, Library, Mandapam, Canteen, Craft Bazar, Amphitheater, Guest Houses, Artisans’ Quarters, and Lathe Workship.

It is a nice serene place with different live heritage industries (weaving, glass art, etc) on display along with houses of different areas of South India from the 19th century. Tickets are Rs 75 for adults, Rs 25 for kids and Rs 10 for camera. There are several shopping outlets inside with a large variety of cultural wares. There is a restaurant that is open for lunch (Kanali). 




 Related Posts:

  1. Mahabalipuram Trip Report. 
  2. ECR to Mahabalipuram Attractions

Last Updated: 07/2013. 

 

Mahabalipuram Trip Report

Our trip was organized around a plan to visit US consulate for passport renewal. Accommodation was at YWCA of Madras International Guest House at Poonamallee High Road. YWCA is a very good choice when visiting Chennai. They have a vast area in the middle of the town. Complementary BF is pretty good as well and the rooms are well-maintained, although the building itself shows age. Lunch/Dinner buffet is also available although you have to mention in advance (not a restaurant). The reception staff can be slow although you will eventually get what you need - we arranged a taxi for the day-trip with them - the rates were competitive but the guy showed up about 45-minutes late - the overall service was OK.

Mahabalipuram is around 60KM south of Chennai and you pretty much travel south on East Coast Road (ECR aka State Highway 49) to get there. Dakshin Chitra, Crocodile Park, MGM Dizee World, Mudalipatti/Muttukadu boathouse, etc. are on the way - the area is very popular and many new residential developments dot the landscape en-route. The entrance to the main temple complex (Sri Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple, Mamallapuram) in Mahabalipuram can be pretty chaotic. When we arrived, multiple guides showed up offering their service - all of them had badges identifying them as government approved guides, but their overall behavior and haggling made us wary. Eventually, we accepted the services of one of them - he was OK - gave descriptions of the stone carvings of the area. The main point he had was that the rock carvings are generally on granite rock compared to limestone (much easier to work with) in many heritage areas including Angkor Wat in Cambodia - the site supposedly has the 2nd largest rock art after Angkor Wat. Also, base relief, monolithic art, and rock carvings are the main art forms found in the area. Varaha Cave, Rayar Gopuram, and Ramanuja Mantapam (originally a rock-cut triple celled Siva Temple with pillared mantapa in front, later converted into a Vaishnava Mantapa - the cells, one row of pillars and sculptures obliterated. Mamalla Style AD 640-674) are other rock structures within the complex. 



The guide was with us for around 45 minutes and left us in the area near the lighthouses. There are two lighthouses but there is no entry to the modern light house. The old lighthouse has a viewing platform with excellent panoramic views of the surroundings. The most popular attraction in the main temple complex is overwhelmingly reserved for the the giant granite rock - a huge boulder naturally positioned precariously on the side of a hillock - the smooth granite rock is good entertainment as it is used as a slide by locals and visitors alike!

Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) and the adjacent Shore Temple (built 700-728AD - classified as a UNESCO world heritage monument since 1984) are the other primary attractions in Mahabalipuram. Pancha Rathas is by the side of the ocean but there is no direct access from the site to the beach. Rock art at this site is as impressive as the ones at the main temple complex. Entrance ticket pricing is nominal and the same tickets may be used for the Shore Temple entrance next door as well. Legend has it that Shore Temple had six other structures that were consumed by the ocean. There is beach access from the site but it is a popular and crowded place. Exit from the beach is through a long narrow pathway flagged by shops. During the 2004 Tsunami, an outline of its sister temples appeared off the coast, renewing the view that this temple complex was the last in a series of temples that existed in the submerged coastline - definite scope for some under-water tourist attractions in the future.

Overall, we left with the feeling that the place has huge potential for tourism but is definitely under-utilized at the moment.



 Related Posts:

  1. Mahabalipuram Trip Report. 
  2. ECR to Mahabalipuram Attractions

Last Updated: 07/2013. 

 

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