The second day at Mamallapuram turned out to be blazing hot. As we finished a leisurely breakfast at the Sea Breeze restaurant, rock gazing in that heat was ruled out by common consent.
Instead, we opted to visit the Madras Crocodile Bank, which was only a 20-min drive from our resort.
We had two reasons for visiting the Crocodile Bank. One, my husband is a huge fan of snakes, crocs, and also of Romulus Whitaker, the founder of the Madras Crocodile Bank. Two, the Croc Bank promised to have leafy, shady spots that would provide a respite from the searing heat.
The Croc Bank has a large collection of crocodiles and alligators. Of these, the salt water crocs are the oldest residents of the bank, having nested here every year since 1983!
As a notice board at the Crocodile Bank tells us, crocodiles believe in a relaxed, stress-free lifestyle. Most of their time is spent either basking in the sun to raise the body temperature or dipping in the water to bring it down. We saw a float of marsh crocodiles doing exactly that.
But don’t be fooled by the lazy picture they paint. As the board further warns, crocodiles are neither as slow nor as docile as they look. The crocs can move incredibly fast, both on land and water. In fact, salt water crocs can even gallop as fast as horses for short distances.
The Croc Bank has a lot of informative boards put up to share interesting research from their studies. For instance, did you know that the gender of a mugger depends on the nest temperature? High nest temperatures produce males, and low temperatures produce females.
Another interesting nugget is that mugger babies call out from inside their eggs when they are ready to hatch. One of the parents then digs out the ‘singing’ eggs and rolls them gently in its jaws to break the shells!
Apart from crocs and alligators, the Croc Bank also has snakes, iguanas, and turtles. Green iguanas look like chamelons but don’t change colour.
We also saw the Giant Aldabra Tortoise. Aldabras are the second largest tortoises, and can grow to over 1.5 meters in length. They also have one of the longest life spans of about 150 years!
Other attractions at the Croc Bank are a snake de-venomizing area, selfie corners, a cafe, and a gift shop.
If you are in the Mahabalipuram area, do visit the Croc Bank for a lesson in stress-free living. Just gaze at the crocs for a couple of hours and you will feel your anxieties melt away. Their mantra is simple: “Eat. Sleep. Mate. Nothing else matters!”
For more on the trip, read Mamallapuram–City of Temples.