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October 12th 2011
Published: October 15th 2011
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Kumbakonam 8th October 2011

Beginning to struggle to remember what we did on Thursday, other than move from Pondi to Kumbakonam. Oh yes, we stopped at the Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, which David had read was a private one where only men were allowed, where the Brahmins contrived to part you from large amounts of your hard earned cash and you had to take your shirt off to go in...........none of which turned out to be true!!!. Ann was allowed in, no-one asked for money and you only took your shirt off if you went into the inner sanctum to gaze at the effigy, which as non-Hindhu's we didn't want to do anyway. Normally you wouldn't be allowed in but we think you might be able to pay here. In anycase it was a very impressive temple though we are finding bare feet on redhot stones a bit of a trial. Time to get the socks out I think.

Further along the road we stopped at one of the lovliest temple complexes we have so far seen. Called Gangaikondacholapuram.....'that's easy for you to say'.... it is a temple from the Chola kingdom.(1012-1044) and is carved from sandstone and set in lovely gardens.......oh the bliss of walking on cool, green grass. Beautiful carvings and a lovely cow and a lion guarding the main temple building.

Kumbakonam is a bit of a melee but the hotel room is enormous (with a loo a bit reminiscent of a royal throne!!). On Friday we went on a trip around the countryside to another temple. It is a very agricultural area which although lucrative doesn't really sustain whole families so many of the men go off to work in the gulf states to supplement the family income. Everyone was busy planting rice ready for the rains due in a few weeks time.Very pleasant. Did have a few close shaves with goats and old men wandering across the road. A wonder either live so long!!

We saw the Thiruvarur temple, nothing very special except for the enormous tank just outside. Though it is famous at festival time for the gigantic Chariot which is hauled through the town by hundreds of devotees. It is being rebuilt at the moment and we could only see the wheels and the base which were colossal. Must see if there is a Utube video when we get home. Back in the temple we were sent to the manager's office for taking photo's. Thought we were going to pay for permission only to be told,' sorry State law, no photo's'. Oh well, at least he was smiley about it!

Saturday was much the same with MORE temples. Kumbakonam has 18 altogether but I don't want to see them all, thank you!! Also the Tank which looks very picturesque in the promotional photo's isn't!!!

In town, the shops are packed with people buying clothes for Diwali which is on 26th of this month. (Should be in Goa for that) and also there are local elections due in a week so there is fierce campaigning going on with the current opposition promising free lap-tops to all students if they get in. Apparently the current lot promised colour TV's and kept their promise, though Muthu did say you will never see them again after the elections are over! There are hoardes of people parading through the streets accompanied by bands and ear shattering explosions

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