Sunday, 2 November 2008
As the end of the trip approaches we are starting to feel already a bit melancholic and we know we will be missing this place.
Madurai was the final stop on our trip. It took a 12 hours train ride to Madurai, taking a train that made a complete circle going to the most southern point in India (Kanyakumari) and then back up to the state of Tamil Nadu. We learned after that we could have organized our trip by car more efficiently, but that will have to be one of the learning for the next time :-)
It is the oldest city in the Southern India, something like 2500 years old and carries lots of historical heritage, located in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is the city where Mahatma Gandhi started his self-purification by adopting a very modest life-style.
The highlight of Madurai are the many temples in a very characteristic colorful architecture. Some of the larger temples are decorated with 1000 and more individual statues of gods or goddesses, each of them painted in very bright colors with impressive attention to details. Unfortunately many of the temples were covered for restoration, so it is our excuse to come back.
Again we got the taste of how reach the Hindu religion and rituals are. In the most popular temple in Madurai, Meenakshi, we had a chance to watch the ceremony of god Shiva being taken to spend the evening with his goddess so they can "revive the energy of the Universe" (ha ha we liked this explanation of the French blue guide :). This is nightly ritual and always followed by lots of prayer by the locals and many curious eyes of the tourists.
It was in the smaller temples outside of Madurai city, Azhagar, that we found even more colorful celebrations, watched people in the form of trans connecting with their gods and experiencing their spiritual culmination.
We enjoyed for last time the spicy Indian food (we are completely used to it by now) and ate as much fresh pineapples, coconuts and bananas that our stomach could take.
We also had Indian shirts sowed by measure for both of us - 1 hour service :-) Now we have our own bright colored t-shirts to wear :-) Sanja received a gift from a lady who approached us in the streets - the red decoration that Indian women wear on their forehead, and happily wore it for the rest of the trip until return to Paris.
We soaked in the many colors of India with our eyes for the last time as much as we could ... The saris which are flashing the bright colors so elegantly when the women wear them here,....the beautiful faces of Indian people,... the exotic fruits,...the yellow dusty streets which attract you again and again,... the cows with the crooked backs and the biggest horns we've seen,... the rickshaws and the white smiles flashing on the sweaty dark skins of the people driving them.... We took pictures on our last day of anything and everything.
We love India. Hopefully Madurai will be our starting point for India Part II.