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Madurai, City of Temples and Textiles

March 7, 2016

sunny 36 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

This morning we took off early in a tuk tuk to get down to the big temple here, the Meenakshi Amman Temple. They say this temple has been around in one form or other since the city was started, which was the 6th century BC. The current version has been here since the 1600's, with many different rulers contributing to different parts of the temple. It covers 45 acres, so there is lots of space. There are four big towers above the gates. They are so fantastically decorated, it is hard to believe. One guide told me the south tower had 4500 sculptures on it and that it was the largest tower. It was interesting to wander inside, see the Hall of 1000 Pillars (all carved differently) and listen to the devotional music being performed live. There are sections of the temple which non-Hindus cannot visit, but there is still lots to see. We had to check our shoes, backpacks, and cameras before going thru a security checkpoint to enter the temple. So we have no pictures of the inside. We did see a sacred cow, covered with blankets and flowers, inside the temple. And an elephant was blessing people with his trunk, whenever they paid his handler the fee. Poor elephant looked bored to death.
East Tower of the temple

East Tower of the temple

Women preparing rice for devotees attending a Shiva festival

Women preparing rice for devotees attending a Shiva festival


After we had wandered our way thru the temple, we collected our belongings and started walking the streets. We went to a fabric store for one last visit and I bought 2 cotton saris, which are made locally. We had to take our shoes off to go into the fabric store, so I said it was like a temple for fabric. So much fabric and so many wonderful colours. It is a strain on the decision making capability to be presented with such choices. I had about 3 or 4 men helping me find just the right one. They also had a mens wear section of the store, but Don couldn't find what he wanted.
My helpers and I trying to find the perfect piece

My helpers and I trying to find the perfect piece


We made our way over to the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, another building from the 17th century. Apparently it was much larger originally, which is hard to imagine because it is huge now! It has some lovely ceiling friezes and painting.
Size of the palace

Size of the palace

One of the dome ceilings

One of the dome ceilings


We managed to walk all the way back to our hotel, although it was very hot in the sun and sometimes there just wasn't any shade to be found. We saw this fellow pull up in his bicycle cart and went over to ask what was in the bundles. Fabric!! I guess the little narrow building he took it into is a clothing factory or something.
Fabric delivery

Fabric delivery


We also passed this fellow mass producing banana leaf plates, which are used on top of metal plates at many restaurants. He prepared a stack of leaves by removing the central rib, and then put a metal plate on top so he could cut them the right size.
Banana leaf plate production

Banana leaf plate production


We stopped for lunch as we got close to the hotel and then crashed for awhile to cool off and let the sun get lower in the sky. We did some more walking around the neighbourhood in the late afternoon. We tried to visit a vegetable market, but there was hardly anything there - too late in the day I guess. We did pass the Royal Enfield dealer, which was advertising 11 new colours! We have seen the occasional original old motorcycles around, so they do last a long time.
Royal Enfield new colour

Royal Enfield new colour


We enjoyed our supper at Phil's Bistro so much last night, that we went back there again tonight, for our last supper in India. India is a very complex place, pretty challenging in many ways, but very interesting and rewarding as well. We have often felt like celebrities here, people we don't know and will never see again, talk to us and take pictures with us. We are continually asked what country are we from? Even if we don't quite understand the question, Canada is a pretty safe reply. Don says India is like 12 countries in one and we have only visited two of them on this trip. So tomorrow we leave and start our long trip home.

Posted by katdill 07:45 Archived in India

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