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Published: January 31st 2007
Our express tour of Tamil Nadu continued with our next overnighter in Tiruchirappalli, or to avoid that mouthful "Trichy" as it's better known. We boarded the 3-hour long Pallavan express train at Villupuram Junction to make the 150km or so journey south without reserved seats and ended up spending the majority of the journey in standing room only. The train was packed with Pongal festival pilgrims making their way home - apparently this particular train had been booked out two months previously!
Laura, being a girl (I can confirm), was offered a seat whilst I did the chivalrous thing and exercised my leg muscles. Fortunately it was early evening and a cool breeze wafted through the packed carriage so it was still better than rush hour on the London Underground!
We arrived into Trichy with a reservation - lesson learnt - and since our hotel (oh yes we're going up in the world paying all of 5 pounds I might add) was near both the train and bus stations, it was just a short walk to the comfort of our room and cable TV.
It was hard to draw myself away from the England vs NZ one-day cricket
match on the TV the next morning, so we made a late start. Checking out Trichy is actually a piece of cake as the bus number 1 does a circuit around the main sights and even though we paid for the fare 3 times due to stops, we still paid a sum total of ~11p for the luxury.
The Rock Fort temple perched on a rocky hilltop was incredible and we joined the hundreds of worshippers on the 437 step journey to the top. It was first cut into the hill by the Pallavas and later fortified by the Nayaks. The view from the top over Trichy is something special to behold. I stood there and got chatting to a young kid from Hampi (northern Karnataka) who was also travelling in Tamil Nadu and has added his own town to our itinerary - he should be on the tourism board.
The second sight we visited was the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple - a huge complex with a 73m high gateway tower (gopuram) in typical Dravidian style. We didn't venture too far in - the crowds were heaving and we always feel out of place in religious sites but got
a decent impression of the place before jumping back on the No 1 back to the start. Besides, we're heading to Madurai next where the Daddy of Dravidian temples stands...
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