Motoring to Madurai
Madurai Travel Blog› entry 10 of 22 › view all entries
More "Four Lane-ing" but a careful driver got us to Madurai in 3 hours. It's the temple town of the south, dominated by the Sri Meenakshi Temple. She's a manifestation of Parvati, Shiva's wife. Shiva also has a sanctuary in the Temple in the person of Sri Sundareshwara, but here his wife takes precedence...(don't ask...)
It's an ancient city that traded with the Greeks and Romans and a holy place for all the dynasties and rulers since. Pilgrims throng the streets of the old town where unlike Trichy cows roam, touts and beggars hustle, litter gathers and pedal rickshaws look for business. The tall Temple gateway towers are covered in wooded scaffolding and palm thatch for repainting, which gives them and odd temporary look.
People raise their arms clasped in prayer at various shrines, some prostrating themselves too. A small statue of Hanuman is being bathed in ghee and then draped. The large statue of Ganesh is draped in a "skirt". As non-Hindus, we can only glimpse the sanctuaries from a distance. High above, up scary wooden ladders and on rickety scaffolding men are re-painting the inside Temple statues and ceiling in bright primary colours. In the outer courts stalls sell all the necessary religious paraphenalia, including statuettes of Shiva that change colour.
We wandered to the station taxi rank to check taxis for our next trip. A vey efficient fixed-price system operates here. 2600rps (35 pounds) for the 230km to KanyaKumari. Madurai Juncion was exceptionally clea, though busy, and equipped with good station seats. It wasn't the traditional Indian station scene of yore.
The fruit and veg market heaved - literally - with activity. Men carried full sacks of potatoes on their heads up wooden steps to (over)load a lorry. Huge hands of green bananas were carried on head and shoulders. The smell of coriander, trampled underfoot, pervaded. Stallholders sold all sorts weighed out on balances, all looking beautifully fresh.
On to the Gandhi Museum. We know he was a remarkable man, but this badly curated museum didn't do him justice. It did however give the story of the independence struggle from, naturally, a very partisan Indian point of view. We noted the omissions!
What a great Indian city. Hugely busy (you just can never describe how full Indian streets are, always), vibrant, noisy, dusty. Now on to KanyaKumari, Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of India.