After Pondicherry we moved away from the coast for the first time in India - and we really noticed the lack of cooling sea breeze!
Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) and Madurai are two busy, dusty, historical temple towns, both with very impressive ancient temple complexes. And both were swelteringly hot.
We arrived in Trichy in the evening and headed out to explore the crazily busy roads and side streets.
The next morning we left the hotel before sunrise, and headed for the imposing 'Rock Fort'. A 270 foot rock rising above the otherwise flat city is an impressive sight from the ground, and as with most impressive natural structures in India, it has a Hindu temple built at the summit.
We climbed the 344 steps to the summit along with a few early morning worshippers on their way to work (or maybe taking advantage of the cooler temperatures like us!)
On a sightseeing roll, we went straight from the Rock Fort to the Sri Ranganathaswamy (!?) Temple.
A 155 acre complex of shrines and towers, it is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. It’s size and busyness, with shops, market stalls and restaurants, made it feel more like a small town than a temple.
We spent the rest of the day hiding from the scorching sun before our journey to Madurai.
We arrived late afternoon to an equally hot Madurai, where we stayed in the busy, narrow streets of the Old City.
At dusk we went to Madurai’s main attraction, the Meenakshi Temple. Cameras were strictly prohibited inside the temple, which is a real shame as it is our favourite temple yet. A combination of elaborate sculptures, paintings and golden shrines, with incense burning around every corner, the atmosphere inside the temple felt very spiritual.
The following day we visited the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal (Madurai Palace). A surprisingly impressive old palace with huge columns and archways, this was our first experience of the great wealth that has, and continues to live side by side with great poverty.
That afternoon we wandered around the busy streets and paid a visit to the famous Gandhi Memorial Museum.
After four very hot days exploring the exciting temple cities, we felt ready to escape to the cooler climates of the hills, starting with a trip to Kodaikanal.