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Old 3rd August 2010, 17:52   #106
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Nice one there!
A society in making, for every thing! You name it, you will find a society for it!
So much for communism.

Sometimes I wonder, does Kerala wildlife also form a society among themselves?

Last edited by ampere : 3rd August 2010 at 17:54.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 18:06   #107
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I am stuck to your way of writing Safe Drive. Amidst the busy office schedule, your stories does cool me off. Hats Off.

To fill up the blank, Can it be a "CHEVY SPARK"... Laughing Out Loud.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 19:09   #108
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Originally Posted by kuttapan View Post
Just got to love your writing style, safedrive. It was very engrossing and I felt( almost) that I visited Thekkady. Thank you for sparing the time to pen this down.
You're most welcome kuttapan. I'm enjoying it too.

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Nice one there!
A society in making, for every thing! You name it, you will find a society for it!
So much for communism.

Sometimes I wonder, does Kerala wildlife also form a society among themselves?
The wildlife one we call "politics". And then I hear they are making a society for societies


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Originally Posted by gsajjanraj View Post
I am stuck to your way of writing Safe Drive. Amidst the busy office schedule, your stories does cool me off. Hats Off.

To fill up the blank, Can it be a "CHEVY SPARK"... Laughing Out Loud.
Chevy Spark - you just made my day

Last edited by SafeDrive : 3rd August 2010 at 19:10.
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Old 4th August 2010, 17:49   #109
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Default Thekkady - Day 4, part IV

“That sir has to be the Logan.” I don’t know why but I was dumb struck. To each his own I guess. If TATA had not brought the Indica from him would he have ended up with a Logan? I did not ask him that although in hindsight I should have. He preferred the Logan because his friend’s vehicle has done over 1.5L k.m. without giving any major problems. Value for money I guess and the mileage also is supposed to be good.

The conversation ended and I spend my time just staring out the window. We reach Madurai at around 03:00 p.m. and have quite a few hours to kill. Earlier the lady at the travel desk had told us that the car would have to be parked at the railway station as there was no parking near the temple. That was fine by me as the car was supposed to be waiting for us until we return. However at the station he asked us if he could return as otherwise he would be driving back quite late at night. That was a fair request and I said that he could do that provided I could find a clock room at the station. We were able to find one so we left our luggage there, tipped our driver and caught an auto to the temple. We were dropped near the temple and as we had not had lunch, we decided to have something before we got into the temple. This worked out fine as the temple only opens at four in the evening. After we had our food I enquired at the restaurant where I could get an English speaking guide. I had heard a lot about the temple and wanted someone to explain everything to me. The person at the restaurant was very cooperative and sent a boy to get me an English speaking guide. He returned soon with a older man who was probably in his sixties, well groomed and dressed in a clean white shirt and white mundu. If I had seen him anywhere else I would have considered him ex-military.

He produces a card as his Id and tells me that he speaks English and Hindi. When he hears us speak Malayalam, he tells us that he speaks Malayalam too. His fee for the tour is Rs.300 and we will have to pay separately for the camera. I did not have an alternative so we decided to go with him. We walk towards the temple and he takes us to a shop where we are asked to leave our footwear there as it’s not allowed inside the temple. So we leave our footwear there and then get in line to enter.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0463.jpg
^^Standing in line^^

We will be entering through the West gate and one of the first things that catches my eye while standing in line is the Gopuram – it is huge.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0461.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0462.jpg
^^ Notice the fine details^^

The guide has walked ahead of us and is waiting inside the gate – the line does not matter to him. He’s also smart as he’s waiting in the shade. There is a security check at the gate – very much like the ones at the airport. While we approach this, we see two foreign nationals being turned away. They were wearing half pants and it seems that your legs need to be covered for you to enter the temple, so a pant or a mundu it has to be.

We soon enter the temple and the guided tour starts. There are two temples inside the complex, one for Meenakshi and the other for Sundareswarar. I’m afraid to ask him who they are but he volunteers and says that they’re Parvati and Shiva. He then points to the west gopuram and continues. The temple has four entrances and each entrance has a similar gopuram. There are four such gopurams, eight smaller ones and two golden ones making it a total of 14 gopurams inside the temple complex. Each of the larger gopurmas have over 1000 figures (statutes) on them. They rise to heights of over 50 meters and are a sight to be seen. The figures are of deities, mythical animals and monsters and are painted in vivid colours. It cost over Rs.30L just to paint the west gate gopuram!!

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0464.jpg
^^One of the smaller eight gopurams^^

The temple is at the very heart of Madurai. In fact the entire town is built around the temple. Although the history of the original structure is not completely known, our guide informed us that the construction was completely finished only 400 years ago. The temple walls and streets are built around the temple in concentric squares. The total complex is in around 45 acres of land. He informed us that the temple work was started during the Pandya dynasty and then later completed by the Nayaks.

We then walk to the left towards the South gate.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0466.jpg
^^ The gopuram at the South^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0467.jpg

As we are about to enter, we are made to buy a ticket for the camera. As we enter the main complex, the first thing I see is a model of the temple complex.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0468.jpg
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Old 4th August 2010, 18:02   #110
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I was eagerly waiting for this part of your log. It is good that you engaged a guide for 300 bucks. The temple would take over a week if you have to visit each and every sanctum. And it's a city in itself.
Waiting eagerly for the rest.
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Old 4th August 2010, 18:04   #111
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I must say, the place looks very clean! Nice shots of the temple.
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Old 4th August 2010, 19:44   #112
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Cool Thekkady - Day 4, part IV contd.

To our right is the Golden Lotus pond.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0471.jpg
^^ You can also see the East gopuram and two smaller ones in this^^

I was wondering as to why it was called it, when I saw this.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0473.jpg

Ok, so it has a name. And then my wife pointed out this. Ah now it makes sense.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0472.jpg

From this side, the guide also points out one of the golden gopurams – you can see a part of it in the picture below. This gopuram is on the Meenakshi temple.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0476.jpg

We then reach the East side from where we see a crowd getting in.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0478.jpg

The tank is surrounded by a corridor on all sides and they have some beautiful figures on the pillars.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0480.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0479.jpg
^^A picture of the tank and the South gopuram^^

On one of the walls of the corridor we see some frescoes. They looks freshly painted. Our guide tells us that these were done by a specialist painter bought from Guruvayur for this. He then points to one of these in particular – the one shown below.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0481.jpg

This picture depicts Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati. It’s a scene of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage and has been copied from another sculpture inside the temple. The picture of the other one is shown below.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0514.jpg

So, what’s the problem? Well the picture has Vishnu in the centre with Shiva and Parvati on either side while the sculpture has Parvati in the middle with Vishnu and Shiva on the sides. Our guide claims that this was done at night by the painter in a very happy mood. The painter was fired and it seems that no temple in Tamil Nadu will ever hire him again. So in addition to “Don’t drink and drive” here’s another – “Don’t drink and paint”. You will also notice that the fresco was never finished.
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Old 4th August 2010, 20:03   #113
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It has a history as well. Not just a model golden lotus. During Sanga period, any work of art in Tamil will be debated in length by great philosophers, poets, linguists, authors etc. Pandya King used to preside over these.
Finally, the golden lotus tank was a deciding authority on texts which led to loads of debate, whether to be accepted by the Sangam or not.
On contentious works, they simply caste the work in the pond and if the lotus comes up holding the work, it was considered to be pass and accepted as a great literary work.
Now, we don't know whether there was a real golden lotus. I feel that it was more of an allegorical reference to the golden sanga period.
Tirukkural, one of the greatest work in Tamil was rejected by the Sangam laurettes. Avvaiyar is supposed to have thrown Tirukkural in to the pond and the lotus has retrieved it after which Pandya king and the others proclaimed it to be Sanga literature over 2000 years back.

If your guide didn't tell you about the story of the golden lotus pond, he's swindled 300 bucks of you.

And vishnu should be on the left. That is the currect one. If you go to Elephanta caves or even ellora, you won't find Vishnu in the middle. Not sure about his story about the painting.

Last edited by MX6 : 4th August 2010 at 20:08.
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Old 4th August 2010, 20:04   #114
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Very nice pics and you have shot some very good pics. Not seen in this detail before.

I am also of the opinion that its overall good to hire a guide. You get precise info and you save time. Else one keeps guessing what could be what. But hate that some people tag along as if they are just looking around but at the same time keep listening carefully to the guide and keep following him.

EDIT : Do I have to eat my words? Once I see that you were not informed well by the guide.

Last edited by TaureanBull : 4th August 2010 at 20:16.
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Old 4th August 2010, 20:10   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
It has a history as well. Not just a model golden lotus. During Sanga period, any work of art in Tamil will be debated in length by great philosophers, poets, linguists, authors etc. Pandya King used to preside over these.
Finally, the golden lotus tank was a deciding authority on texts which led to loads of debate, whether to be accepted by the Sangam or not.
On contentious works, they simply caste the work in the pond and if the lotus comes up holding the work, it was considered to be pass and accepted as a great literary work.
Now, we don't know whether there was a real golden lotus. I feel that it was more of an allegorical reference to the golden sanga period.
Tirukkural, one of the greatest work in Tamil was rejected by the Sangam laurettes. Avvaiyar is supposed to have thrown Tirukkural in to the pond and the lotus has retrieved it after which Pandya king and the others proclaimed it to be Sanga literature over 2000 years back.

If your guide didn't tell you about the story of the golden lotus pond, he's swindled 300 bucks of you.

And vishnu should be on the left. That is the currect one. If you go to Elephanta caves or even ellora, you won't find Vishnu in the middle. Not sure about his story about the painting.
I knew I'd taken the wrong guide. He never explained all this. I did see the Tirukkural on one of the walls along the pond.
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Old 4th August 2010, 20:24   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
EDIT : Do I have to eat my words? Once I see that you were not informed well by the guide.
Well, TBull, if you have seen the movie slum dog millionaire, you'd recollect the stories the boy spins about Taj Mahal. We have many such self styled, creative guides.

Incidentally, R K Narayan's magnum opus Guide itself shows how the guide was never a guide till he attained realisation! Dev Anand's guide is still one of my favourite movies.

Anyway, the guide has helped SafeDrive save time in a temple that's actually a city.

Anyone travelling to Madurai, have a look at my suggestions to many travellers in route query and my own log - "A trip close to the heart"

And if you want to ensure the toll booths don't create issues near Madurai, check with HVK.
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Old 4th August 2010, 20:31   #117
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The original Nayak paintings (frescoes) were whitewashed over because a certain CM decided to attend the temple festival. Some dumwitted sycophantic follower probably gave the orders. The original paintings were probably from the 17th century. Though worn out they depicted the story of the temple and the kings. I sometimes think we have too much of history, that's why people don't bother about it.

After sanity returned, the ASI decided to restore the paintings, so the white wash was removed in places and some paintings remastered!! So I don't think the guide story carries any truth in it.. Just one of those urban legends probably to make a visitors life interesting!!

MX6, you beat me to the punch on the Lotus Tank.
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Old 5th August 2010, 10:08   #118
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Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
Anyway, the guide has helped SafeDrive save time in a temple that's actually a city.
MX6 is right here. Let me illustrate using an example. After the guided tour with the guide we decided to spend some more time in the temple by ourselves. As we were entering the temple, we noticed a foriegn couple in line. Now they were standing in the line for the darshan which is very long. To just enter the temple you do not need to stand in that line and we knew this only because we had a guide earlier. Otherwise we also would probably have wasted at least an hour in that same line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by csentil View Post
The original Nayak paintings (frescoes) were whitewashed over because a certain CM decided to attend the temple festival. Some dumwitted sycophantic follower probably gave the orders. The original paintings were probably from the 17th century. Though worn out they depicted the story of the temple and the kings. I sometimes think we have too much of history, that's why people don't bother about it.

After sanity returned, the ASI decided to restore the paintings, so the white wash was removed in places and some paintings remastered!! So I don't think the guide story carries any truth in it.. Just one of those urban legends probably to make a visitors life interesting!!

MX6, you beat me to the punch on the Lotus Tank.
I did not know that. Well the whitewash is not there but I did not have a close enough look to see if the frescos underneath could be seen. Can anyone staying in Madurai comment?
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Old 5th August 2010, 12:10   #119
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Smile Thekkady - Day 4, part IV contd.

We reach the end of the corridor and see a huge crowd. It’s people standing in line for a darshan at Meenakshi’s shrine.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0482.jpg

This picture got us into some trouble. The moment I clicked this, a person from the temple who was controlling the queue started shouting at our guide. It seems that I was not supposed to take a picture there – cameras are not allowed into that area. Our guide also did respond trying to defend me. I did offer to delete the picture but then was let off.

We take a turn to the right and are now entering the Shiva temple. On the way I see this. It reads “Shree Vetan” I think – this is with my limited knowledge of reading Tamil, please correct me if I am wrong.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0483.jpg

The entry into the Shiva temple is a little crowded because of this.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0484.jpg

A closer shot of the deity.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0487.jpg

We are now in the hall of a thousand pillars.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0485.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0488.jpg
^^ The guy running in front is our guide^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0491.jpg

Our guide takes us to left away from the crowd. I’m hoping that he will stop and explain something to us but he just keeps going. So I stop to take in these beauties. This forces him to stop too. I need to inject something here – our guide did claim that he knew Malayalam, English and Hindi in addition to Tamil and he did show us a badge that showed that he was a Government approved guide. He was not lying, he did know Malayalam, Hindi, English and Tamil. However the first three he knew in only a limited manner – not sufficient to explain all this to an ignoramus like me. Since my knowledge on Hinduism and Hindu mythology is limited in most to Amar Chitra Katha comics that I read when I was a kid this definitely was a challenge. A good example being the fact that I did not know that Meenakshi was Parvati and that Sundareswarar was Shiva. So getting things into my head was going to be difficult. And the guide was not helping much either as he was not telling me the mythology associated with a lot of this. We also had quite a few instances where he had to use all four languages to convey things to us. Hence the net result is that I could admire the beauty and take pride in our heritage by looking but not by understanding.

Each pillar is a work of art by itself. The part near the roof is colourful in sharp contrast to the stony grey at the other levels. A few pictures of the pillars.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0492.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0493.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0494.jpg
We continue around and come to an almost empty corridor.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0496.jpg

There seems to be some conservation and restoration work happening as evidenced in the below picture.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0497.jpg

There are a lot of idols all along the temple walls.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0498.jpg

We come around the corner of the deserted corridor and are in front of the Shiva temple.

Before coming to that part I must mention that the artwork inside the temple are very exquisite. All the sculptures are done in life like propotions and these can be seen very clearly in the pictures in the next post. A lot of effort has been put into creating these in complete detail. No wonder it took so much time. If I remember right, I think the guide said that the work on the temple began around 1500 years ago and was completed only around 400 years ago!!

P.S. - If you have more information, please do add on.

Last edited by SafeDrive : 5th August 2010 at 12:12.
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Old 5th August 2010, 12:30   #120
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That is not the hall of 1000 pillars. This it.


Your photo is of a Prakara and you've taken the photo close to a diety at the left for which prayers are offered (not in photo).
You go straight in this prakara and turn right you get to the 1000 pillar hall.
It's converted to a museum and is at an elevated level so the height from the ground to ceiling is lesser than what's seen in this prakara. Also at the end of the entrance, you find Nataraja and Sivakameswari (my photo).
Finally, the pillars are spaced out wider so that geometrically, which ever angle you view they happen to appear in straight line.
There are no dieties for which prayers are offered in the 1000 pillar hall as it's a museum now.
And any idea how many pillars are there in the 1000 pillar hall?

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-aayiram-kaal-mantapam.jpg

Last edited by MX6 : 5th August 2010 at 12:40.
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