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Old 18th October 2009, 13:13   #91
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Lightbulb 30th Sep 2009 – Madurai to Bangalore!

A heads-up on another way in which auto guys try to take visitors for a ride in Madurai:

Since we were just a couple of kilometers from the temple, we wanted to avoid the hassle of finding a parking place near the temple. Left the car at the hotel and got into an auto. The rate we agreed upon was 25/-

We seemed to be passing by one of the temple gates and taking a longer route… I asked him where he was taking us. He replied back that he was taking us to the gate from where it would be a shorter walk to the temple. Since we had already negotiated the rate, I was a little curious to see what he was up to.

Finally we reached a street in front of another gate; he stopped in front of a Saree shop and started saying…

“Very nice and cheap silk sarees in this shop… very good silk…”
“No thanks, we want to go to temple, not saree shopping…”
“It will take only few minutes, why don’t you see the sarees, you can also leave your slippers in the shop… Free service, slippers are not allowed near the temple!”

By then an employee of the shop also joined in and echoed this “Slippers are not allowed near temple, you need to leave them somewhere else, and you can leave them in our shop… free service.”

The idea seemed to be that if we leave our footwear there, we will definitely come back to the shop… and thanks to the ‘Free service’; we’ll be somewhat obligated to see the sarees and maybe buy them. The auto-guy would get his cut for driving customers to the shop.

We probably would not have minded browsing through the shop and maybe even picking up an odd saree or two; But this bull-**** about “Slippers not allowed near temple" was a little too much to digest.

Just ignored them and their “Free service” and walked towards the temple… telling Sangeetha that if need be, we’ll just leave the footwear by the roadside and buy new ones if they get whacked… (We were wearing cheap hawaiis).

A few feet from the entrance gates, on all sides of the temple, there are counters provided by the temple administration, where you can leave your foot wear and collect tokens. The tokens too are color coded / marked to indicate the gate where you left your stuff.

Coming back to the T'log, today would be the last day of our trip. We had to be back in Bangalore by 1st October and the plan was to finish all the sightseeing in Madurai and drive to Bangalore non-stop.

We would have around 450kms of driving ahead of us and I estimated that it would require around 7 to 8 hours from start to stop. Even if we started our drive at 4.00pm, we would be in Blr by around midnight.

The Madurai Meenakshi temple is quite a colorful spectacle. "The complex covers around 45 acres and the temple is a massive structure measuring 254 by 237 meters. The temple is surrounded by 12 towers, the tallest of which, the famous Southern tower, rises to over 170 ft (52 m) high..."

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-001.jpg


More corridors, but not as long as those in Rameshwaram...

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Sunlight from a ventilator and the smoke in the temple resulted in an interesting effect...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010.jpg


Some pics from inside the Madurai temple...

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In one of the passages, the ceiling is covered with different aspects of Ganesha...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg


A big Nataraja statue in the museum within the temple. It is more than 6 feet high. Could not get a better pic since the statue was lit up from below by a glaring flood light...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg


Silhouettes...

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Ok, control yaar...

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The 'Aayiram Kaal Mandapam' or Thousand Pillared Hall (actually has 985 carved pillars), now houses the museum...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-19.jpg


The 'Porthamarai Kulam', i.e. the Pond with the Golden Lotus...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg


After the temple, we headed towards the 'Thirumalai Nayak' palace. It is within walkable distance from the temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


Silk (?) yarn being cleaned and prepared by the roadside...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-022.jpg


After a short walk, we reached the Madurai palace. "Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th century palace was built by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the Madurai Nayak rulers in 1636 AD in the city of Madurai, India. This Palace was built with the help of an Italian Architect and is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles.

The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. In its heyday, Tirumalai Nayak's Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South.

It is believed that Chockanatha Nayak, the grand son of Thirumalai Nayak, wanted to build his own palace in Trichy. He demolished parts of the Madurai palace and carried away valuables, wood carvings etc. The rest of the structure fell into disrepair and was slowly disintegrating till Lord Napier; the governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872 took a fancy to this magnificent building and got it renovated for use as a court and administrative office."

A painting from 1798 shows the dilapidated condition of the palace...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-022a1798-thomas-daniel-palacepainting.jpg


The ASI has renovated and maintained the palace quite well...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-023.jpg


Contd...
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Old 18th October 2009, 13:28   #92
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Lightbulb 30th Sep 2009 – Madurai to Bangalore! (Contd...)

Pics from inside the palace, showing the elaborate stucco work and the elegantly painted ceilings...

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There is also a museum in one of the wings, housing some artifacts, reproductions of ancient paintings etc.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-044.jpg

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Coming out of the palace, we thought of catching an auto back to the hotel. Seeing a few cycle rickshaws at a corner, we decided to take a cycle-rickshaw instead.

Though it cost us almost double of what an auto would have, it has a certain novelty factor of its own. He asked for 40, we bargained for 30, but finally paid him 50,

This form of transportation is now almost extinct in most parts of India, the last time I rode in a cycle rickshaw was in the early 90s in Cuddapah.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-046.jpg


Post lunch we packed up and started off towards Bangalore. Had a little bit of a problem in finding our way to the highway, but reached the NH7 and this was the home stretch all the way to Bangalore!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-048.jpg


Drove past Palani, a passing thought occurred that we should consider a brief stop over, but continued on...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-049.jpg


The highway can be quite treacherous due to morons (mainly private bus drivers & bikers) driving up in the inner lane on the wrong side of the road.

Though in some places there was a genuine diversion due to the ongoing construction, in most cases folks would be driving on the wrong side to avoid having to take a 'U' turn somewhere. So had to be really careful around the curves...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-050.jpg


A classic example...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-051.jpg


Stopped at a BPCL 'Ghar' dhaba for dinner and tanking up. Reached Bangalore at around 11.45pm.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-052.jpg


"So, what plans for the next trip...?"
"Oh, we should go for a drive around Kerala sometime or maybe a trip up north..."
"Anything is fine; as long as you don't take me around to see more temples!"
"But Sri.Guruvayurappa is calling me... "
"It's ok, just close your ears."
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Old 18th October 2009, 16:32   #93
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Awesome stuff!!! Thank you for taking us on a trip to Andamans and Tamilnadu and back... Really enjoyed reading the travelogue..
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Old 18th October 2009, 22:08   #94
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@hotstuff

Simply wonderful. I have read many travelogues, and rarely come across someone having your eye for detail! An example is your observation about the statue of the patron of yore in the temples depicted with a paunch! I too have seen this at many temples and wondered about the same, and came to the conclusion that in those days, it probably indicated "status" and prosperity. Depicting someone with six pack abs would probably have been infra-dig, meaning that person was famished!

As for the sunrise/sunset at Kanyakumari, it takes many visits to see either of them. Most of the time clouds will obscure them. Having seen both, I can assure they look like any other sunrise/sunset from any place on our eastern/western shores. The difference is you can see both the sunrise as well as sunset at sea when you are at Kanyakumari.

Also you must have observed an unending forest of windmills in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil belt. I wonder you did not take a pic!
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:30   #95
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Hotstuff,

Excellent Narration and wonderful pictures. The pictures of Rameswaram,kanyakumari and Madhurai brought back memories of my earlier days when i visited these places. The pictures of the palaces are fantastic and the essence was captured very rightly.Amazing construction and what an architecture.

Thank you for your patience to take these many pictures and taking us around along with you on the trip. I will have to visit some of these temples next year and this thread is a ready reckoner for me.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:35   #96
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Hotstuff,

What is your camera gear?
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:50   #97
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Hotstuff, good narration and splendid photos. Some of those photos need special mention like that of the Padmanabh palace, it is done so with great details, looking out for more from you!
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Old 19th October 2009, 16:28   #98
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Hotstuff, a great travelouge perfectly complimented with picture perfect shots of the place. Simply Awesome. Loved the Andaman Part and the Dhanushkodi part the most. Keep it coming, waiting for more. Keep Xing'ing & Post'ing
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Old 20th October 2009, 09:39   #99
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Smile Thanks!

@dreamdiesel;
@Gansan;
@Indian Ranger;
@theMAG;
@Majic;
@traveloholic;

- Thank you all for your comments!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
....Also you must have observed an unending forest of windmills in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil belt. I wonder you did not take a pic!
- We have been clicking at wind-mills in most of the previous trips...

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
Hotstuff,

What is your camera gear?
- For this trip we used two cameras, both are from Panasonic; a Lumix ZS1 & a Lumix FZ28.
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Old 20th October 2009, 11:30   #100
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A beautiful travelogue.

Neatly written backed by well-taken and some innovative photographs, giving us the feel that we were all with you thoughout that trip (looking at andaman pics, I revisited my childhood memory !). We thank you (Ashwin and sangeetha) for sharing your wonderful trip/experience, exploring each and every place in minute detail. Someday I would like to go on a trip based on this trail.

Last edited by livealike : 20th October 2009 at 11:32.
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Old 20th October 2009, 11:51   #101
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Hey hotstuff, i just saw your thread again on the travelogue, i just clicked it thinking that you would have added something more, i think i am addicted to thread and that it would take time for me to realise that it is really over
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Old 20th October 2009, 12:14   #102
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I still can't imagine that its all over. It feels as if it just started. This reminds of the cliche from Film Industry "Picture Baaki Hai Mere Dost".

A beautiful travelouge on the whole, a brief summary worth the read and worth trying to mimic it. It takes real guts to embark on this journey given the lenght and breadth of area covered. Kudos to Ashwin and Sangeetha. Great Going Guys!!! You are real TRAVEL GURUS
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Old 20th October 2009, 12:59   #103
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Smile Thank you all - From Sanjay & Sangeetha!

@livealike
@traveloholic
@Majic

Thanks for your comments and appreciation.

Just a small correction...

Quote:
... Ashwin and Sangeetha....
It is actually 'Sanjay & Sangeetha'.

When we bought the Havelock ferry tickets in black, they were issued in the name of a 'Mr & Mrs. Ashwin'...

Regards,
Sanjay
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Old 20th October 2009, 13:09   #104
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Sanjay, a couple of 'strategically' placed leaves gave you this long holiday, but I think penning a travelogue of this length would definitely take another holiday, longer than the one you have already taken now.

How are you managing to get time for this?? If I had gone on such a long holiday, I would never ever dream of writing a travelogue, just because of the sheer time I would need to pen it.

None the less, your travelogue never ceases to bore, however long it is. Keep Xinging!!!
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Old 20th October 2009, 14:06   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotstuff
Just a small correction... It is actually 'Sanjay & Sangeetha'.
Apologies Sanjay, I still remember the tickets you guys purchased at A&N.
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