03.01.2012 - 05.01.2012 30 °C
Day 96: Madurai, Tamil Nadu 03/01/12
A decent lie in after yesterday’s excitement and after a quick breakfast we are off out of Rainbow Cottage for our journey across the state border to Madurai. After visiting the border a couple of days previously it became apparent that, due to tensions between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the border was shut, effectively becoming a DMZ and we would have quite a walk on our hands to even get near a bus to Madurai. However, the border was obviously reopened and there was an abundance of buses waiting to whisk us to wherever we wanted. As a result we walk straight onto a bus direct for Madurai, having run into the Kiwi couple we shared the safari with.
A fairly easy ride over to Madurai (about 4 hours), which is of course extremely busy (we are in India). Some more stunning landscapes to be seen on the journey – more jungle lined mountains and incredible views into the valleys below.
Find a hotel fairly easily, grab a bite to eat (roast chicken – mmmmm) on the rooftop and before long it is my turn to feel a little unwell. We heads to the room and spend the evening watching some tv in between the frequent power cuts.
Day 97: Madurai, Tamil Nadu 04/01/12
A few bits of housekeeping first thing – check emails and get the laundry done – before we make our way to the huge historic temples in the city centre. These are some hugely impressive structures, with a massive amount of detail, incorporating countless individual stone statues and symbols on the sides of the temple monuments, in an array of bright colours. Incredible to think these are hundreds of years old.
There is of course lots to experience around the temple sites, with a bustling, hectic market region and lots of people leaning towards the tourists – beggars, touts and market traders – for the first experience of this type of activity for a long time in India, and something we remember from the other big Indian cities. Some great market stalls to be seen, most of them well worth a look.
A spot of lunch, where Gemma’s biriyani is so hot she thinks she has been temporarily blinded. As the temple is not open to visitors until 4pm, we go back to the room and head back around 7pm to see inside (and check the status of the laptop, which is in for repair). I am told that I cannot enter the temple in my shorts and I am given a tea towel skirt thing the local men all seem to wear. Very fetching. The laptop is shown to us in pieces, which is how we will be receiving it back – luckily not, just an explanation.
The temple meanwhile is extremely interesting, if a little creepy, with a huge number of holy men, statues and rituals to be seen.