After Varkala we then drove down to the southern tip of India and visited Kanyakumari. This is where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean all meet.
Again a lot of pilgrims travel across India to stop here and visit the statue of Thiruvalluvar on one island and the Vivekananda rock memorial on another little island.
I liked the Thiruvalluvar statue as it looked a little familiar to me…then I got it, it was holding up its hand and saluting with 3 fingers up…just like the brownies! Ahhhh…
We didn’t go across to the islands as for us it was a whistle stop tour but you can catch a ferry over as lots of people were.
Along the sea front… the sea was crashing against the rocks, there were a lot of people trying to sell us souvenirs. They were literally in your face. I know they are just trying to make a living and normally I engage with them and if I don’t want anything I will then tell them a firm no. I have also been told, don’t say a price if you aren’t prepared to pay it! There was a man asking me to buy his shell and pearl necklaces… I didn’t want one but as I looked at one, he kept following me around…in the end I said ” okay, 10 rupees” thinking he would say no way and leave but he never he said yes! 10 rupees is about 12 pence! So I dug out the money feeling a bit bad and paid him…and a bit more. He was trying to sell it for 500! He helped me put it on…it was tight over my big head and since then I’ve never been able to take it off!
It was very very hot down there so I brought a fresh pineapple which the lady sliced up for me…delicious and very refreshing, served on a bed of newspaper….
Back at the truck we enjoyed some sandwiches before heading up to a place called Madurai.
On the journey…I was awake again…there was one of the largest wind farms in Asia. For quite a while all i could see was the windmills…
Madurai is another busy city, back to spotting cows strolling around and people lying in the street asleep. Everyone was out on the streets here until late…doing…not very much it seemed.
We just had one night in Madurai. From now on it was just going to be one night stops until the end of the trip too!
We had dinner on the roof top of a hotel with a view across the city. During dinner some of the group were having a few drinks and talk of Marge and Dave getting married began!
As usual the search for wifi continued and we went to this hotel reception to ask if they had wifi. ” I’m sorry mam” said the receptionist, ” the wifi is for hotel guest only” oh no…no wifi anywhere I thought! Then Anaclaudia( one of the Mexican girls) pipes up and says in her very best ‘ lost little girl voice’ ” please sir…we need to speak to our families….?” it worked! She used her charms and he gave us the code.
Now it turns out this was not just a one off….Indian people are fascinated by Anaclaudia. She has long dark hair and olive skin….they think she is a Bollywood star! A lot of Bollywood stars are very pale and I’ve heard some asians even bleach their skin trying to get ‘ the look.’
In the morning we were up early and across the road there was a very busy cafe serving a very spicy breakfast…in the end I managed to get a Dosa. This is basically a pancake and I used Will & Carole’s Honey on it…delicious. ( good tip…take honey…goes with everything!)
This cafe is famous for its coffee and tea. They basically juggle with it in a cocktail type flairing fashion…without spilling a drop…pouring it from one jug to another to mix it perfectly? It’s very sweet though so it gave me the energy to wake up!
We visited a big complex of temples – the Shiva temples, and on the way in an old woman beckons me over and puts beautiful fresh Jasmine flowers in my hair… Wow i smelt good!
I think there was 6 different temples, all very brightly coloured and carved. You could see all the individual statues…all 1500 of them! The statues are all made with plaster, clustered together on the outside of all the temples. Painting of them takes place every 12 years and it takes three years to paint them all…phew and no wonder…
Inside these temples there are a lot of pilgrims and yeap….youve guessed it…a lot of children…who cant wait to say hi…hi …hi…x
We stop by a statue of Ganesh and it is covered in white powder. I watch as people line up and dab a bit of the white powder onto thier forhead to make a bindi and then they seem to say a quick pray or make a wish. We decide to follow suit and i end up giving out bindis to some of our group…offers of white ash…
Next we head onto Trichy. Here is home to a fort temple with over 400 steps up to it!
We head up…bare foot and up at the top we are rewarded with a view of the largest temple complex in India. There are lots of people milling about and in particular around Anaclaudia once again. This time I joke that I’ll be her manager ….”we could make a fortune!Let’s start charging for all these photographs!” I say and shout to a group of teenagers ” that’s 2000 rupees please! ” they just laugh…ignore me and carry on…huh…why would they not take me seriously I wonder…? Bless her, if she wanted to I’m sure she could make a small fortune being a look a likie! Maybe she will think about it when she gets back to Mumbai…?
We then visit the largest temple in India. ( yes I was beginning to feel ‘ all templed out’ by now)
This one there are view points so you can climb up and view the temples across the landscape…you can see the tops of them peering out…it just doesn’t feel real when you visit a place like that. I felt really small. I could also get sight of the golden topped temple. This one was for Hindus only but we walked upto it and peeked in.
Once again shoes had to be left with an attendant amongst 100′s of pairs. My feet were now totally black underneath and getting pretty tough with all the walking on hot stone floors.
I waited outside the temple for a bit and just watched the people milling around…the colours, the sounds, the smells…just India.
Just reading this back im not sure if we did all this in one day…my memory is fading so i’ll say…i visited these temples around these places around these days…..
Our hotel in Trichy was good – powerful air con!
Lots of the staff were out decorating the entrance to the hotel for a wedding celebration that evening. As we walked round, there in the door way, was a beautiful big elephant.
Sarah was straight over taking pictures and stroking it. I hung back for a bit and watched. The elephant didn’t look right to me…he looked sad and as I watched he paced and moved his head from side to side. I wondered how many of these elephants end up this way as they are rolled out for different functions or tourists pleasure?
I did go over and his eyes didn’t seem open properly…like he was in a haze. I stroked him once and did get a photo (hypocrite) but then moved back. I felt sorry for him.
Later that evening he was spotted all dressed up and ready to go…
After a long day, I had an amazing meal of Rashimi chicken and I ordered a large kingfisher beer (Indian beer) and felt quite tipsy…as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light…