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The Temples of Trichy and Madurai



After Pondicherry we moved away from the coast for the first time in India - and we really noticed the lack of cooling sea breeze!


A road in Trichy

Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) and Madurai are two busy, dusty, historical temple towns, both with very impressive ancient temple complexes. And both were swelteringly hot.



Trichy


We arrived in Trichy in the evening and headed out to explore the crazily busy roads and side streets.


The queues for yummy masala tea

A man and his banana cart

Trying to cross the road and get to the restaurant!

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.


The impressive rock fort from the ground

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!)


Where we removed our shoes before the temple climb

Sunrise on the way up

Part of the temple overlooking the city

The final stairs up to the temple


On a sightseeing roll, we went straight from the Rock Fort to the Sri Ranganathaswamy (!?) Temple.


The impressive entrance to the temple (one of the twenty-one towers)





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.


One of the market stalls within the grounds

A smiley flower man

Tubs and tubs of flowers line the streets

Rows and rows of cows also line the streets!

We spent the rest of the day hiding from the scorching sun before our journey to Madurai.



Madurai


The towers of the Meenakshi Temple rise high above the city, in the north, east, south and west corners of the temple

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 entrance to the west tower taken the following morning

A sacred cow statue just outside the temple

The east tower entrance is lined with haberdashery stalls

Many tailors trade outside the east tower entrance

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.

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