A day trip
Thanjavur Travel Blog› entry 8 of 22 › view all entries
Tranquebar is on the coast about 80km from Tanjore. It's a former Danish enclave, bought by the Brits in 1845. It's small and quiet. You enter the old town through a 17th century arch to reach the Danish fort by the sea. It's a lovely setting on a golden beach. Unfortunately, the nearby upmarket hotel didn't have any food! The Church of South India (Anglican) Zion Church was fine, but the Jerusalem Lutheran Church was finer. The sacristan showed us the Church plate. Next door, the men of the Lutheran Teacher Training College were lunching in the grounds. Outside, about 200 beautifully behaved teenage girls in school uniform walked in crococdile. Where from? To? We wonder why such a pretty spot hasn't become more touristy.
Along the coast through Karaikal, a detached part of Pondi, 100km north. The traffic cops wear white uniforms like Pondi, but no kepis. Otherwise it's just another Tamil town. Then Velankanni, the main RC shrine for S. India. The Basilica, on the spot where the Virgin appeared to a boy in the 16th century, is huge and blindingly white. The well kept grounds include the Jordan garden with a model bambi. Pilgrims buy candles in all sorts of colours as offerings, and buy garlands to be blessed. We passed the Hail Mary Cool Drinks Corner and Cap Centre, and the Mother Theresa Car Park. It's a tropical Lourdes or maybe Knock, except perhaps for the Shrine Tonsure Hall where pilgrims queue to have their heads shaved ("Get a token. Do not give money to the worker.") We ate in the shrine canteen, a good lunch for 40p each. No cutlery provided, so our sporks came in handy. All something of a contrast to the Chichester Cathedral Refectory.
Back to Tanjore past the rice harvest and the busy small towns. They all throng with people and the frequent buses plying the roads are all crowded. Where do they go?
Another different day in India.