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Temple Town

and a tailor or two!

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After witnessing a lovely sunset on the train ride we arrived into Madurai at about 22:30.
We didn't have to walk very far to find a street with a number of hotels, our search for a room began. Unfortunately we didn't seem to be able to find a good cheap room, the not very nice rooms were quite expensive, so we pushed our budget slightly and found one which we considered to be good value for money.

We did get breakfast included though and we were told it was a buffet. We got quite excited by this and had images of a good continental spread. The next morning we went along with high hopes which unfortunately were dashed, we were probably being a little naïve anyway. We tried some of the Indian food that was on offer, but it just doesn't seem the right kind of thing to be eating first thing in the morning so I stuck to the bread and butter and Adam had cornflakes. Not exactly the spread we were hoping for but it filled a spot.

As said in the previous entry Madurai is a temple town and the main one is Meenakshi Temple.
We found our way there weaving through the narrow streets and as we approached we managed to find a friend without even looking for one. After telling us a little bit about the temple, without us asking, he then told us that he was a tailor and could make all kinds of things for us, exact replicas of what we were wearing in fact for pittance and in no time at all. We told him no thank you and then we found out that the temple was now closed to non Hindus and we would have to come back later. You could see the main structure of the temple from the outside though and walk all the way round it's perimeter. The elaborate gaudy stucco-work gopurams are impressive and the bright colours symbolise how prominent and vibrant the Hindu religion is in India.
We wandered around for a little while, being trailed by our new friend and then found our way back to the hotel via a restaurant for some lunch.

In the early evening we left the hotel for the temple, not long after we got outside an old man came up to us and asked us where we were from, we told him England and he said he was an English teacher. He then said that it was very lucky that we were in Madurai today because there was a festival in the temple but we had to get there soon because it would be over in about half an hour. Although something about it seemed a little off we couldn't see how he would benefit from telling us this and the thought of perhaps seeing a festival was a little too tempting so we jumped in a tuk tuk.

On the way the tuk tuk driver picked up his brother, and guess what he turned out to be a tailor too! He also told us there was a festival and then we really did smell a rat. We managed to lose him fairly quickly and then we had to get rid of our shoes before being allowed into the temple. This involved getting in a 'queue,' which in fact does not exist in India. Thankfully we have both become quite adept at pushing in, even if it does go against every British bone in our bodies. The fact is if you want to get anywhere you have to just think of number one.

As we had come to expect we saw no signs of a festival happening, having happened or about to happen. So we just turned our attention to the temple itself, which is actually much less impressive on the inside, well to a non Hindu. There were certain areas where we could not go, the most sacred parts which hold the shrines that the pilgrims flock to. Instead we flocked to the little stalls to have a look at all the brightly coloured knick knacks that were on sale. Most of it was fairly nasty and a lot of it seemed in no way related to the temple where it was being sold but I think weirdly that was part of the charm. We did find one little stall that had some more tasteful items for sale, like some of the paintings we had bought in Fort Kochi.

The women running the stall was a real character and although she was clearly quite shrewd and definitely trying her best to sell and sell hard we both warmed to her. She gave us a couple of little purses for free and I suppose that sweetened us up slightly but we had a good banter with her and in the end we bought 2 paintings, some little elephants and a small statue of Ganesh. I think we may have paid a little more than we usually would have but we got her down a bit and we all seemed happy at the end.

On the way back we found a good place for dinner, Adam actually had his meal again in a parcel to take away.
Parcel is what you have to say when you want the food to take out. We fell asleep well fed and woke up the next morning and caught the bus to Trichy, which is where we catch our flight to Kuala Lumpur from.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 07:06 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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