South India: Cape Comorin and Madurai

January 2012 — Crossed today border of Tamil Nandu state, and arrived to Cape Comorin. Or as locals call it, Kanniyakumari. Its the most Southern point of Indian subcontinent. There are couple of temples and big statue of Thiruvalluvar, a celebrated Tamil poet. Got a cheap hotel, so plan to stay few days reading and awing sun rising in the morning from sea, and landing back there in the evening. The only place in India to see both, from the same spot.

Sunrise at Cape Comorin

Kerala was an interesting experience. One of the curiosities that caught my eye was the Communist posters and ads, everywhere you go. Even Stalin’s pictures came by. I stopped by first in Kannur, then Calicut. Wandered around in beaches but didn’t see much else. After arriving Kochi I thought its the same story, but it turned out the best of my stops in Kerala.

Marching…

Kochi is complex of islands, archipelagos and maze of backwaters. Town in continent side is called Ernakulam, that’s also where bus and train stations are. Fort Kochi with historic sites, next to beaches and Chinese fishing nets is particularly fascinating. Everything just clicked there! Did a two day trip to Munnar as well. Munnar is picturesque hilly region inland and has many tea plantations that British introduced to India in 1800’s (adopting tea originally from Chinese in 1600’s).

Tea plantations in Munnar

Kathakali is South Indian dance performance consisting on storytelling of dance and elaborate gestures. Actors are men only, who do roles of women as well. They are covered in strong makeup, and careful preparations before performances is part of show. Stories are ancient Kerala’n and South Indian folklore, mixed with legends from Hinduism. Kathakali shows can be seen almost every evening in Kochi.


Kathakali

Chinese fishing nets in Kochi

After Kochi, continued to Trivandrum, Kerala’s capital that has beautiful beaches along the coast. Managed to burn myself in merciless South Indian sun. Kerala is sun bathers paradise, and not as touristy and pricey as Goa in the North. There are also many historic sites, natural reserves and much more for a dedicated trip to South India. @ Kanniyakumari

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Trivandrum. Fascinating history about this place: link.

February 2012 — Arrived to Madurai couple days ago to see its famous temples. Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple is in the center of the city. The complex is just as ancient as it is enormous. Spirituality and sounds from rites pulse through the thick walls. Temple itself is inside the several high walled perimeters, and there are numerous side Shrines for various Hindu deities. Visitor can come across big elephant, or small mouse running at sides of corridor. And anything in between! I was awed by the detail of Notre Dame in Paris before coming India. This Hindu Temple easily compete with it in elaborate detail. And it is still in active religious, tourists being few and far between.

Temple guards. Got nice smile from them 😉

According to travel books, Tamil Nandu is poorer than its Western neighbor Kerala, and it shows. My hotel in the city center has many power breaks daily, and sound of power generators is common when walking outside. Other noticeable thing, far away from Tibet, are Tibetan souvenir and cloth shops. Exiles fleeing Chinese occupation have spread all around India and Nepal.

Part of Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple

After been traveling slowly in Kerala and South for weeks, decided to make bigger step next. My train to Chennai leaves tomorrow evening, and I should arrive after 24 or so hours. @ Madurai

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