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Published: February 4th 2020
Waking up this morning in the Taj Gateway Hotel is a pleasure. The hotel is an old British Colonial property that has been kept as a luxury hotel. White balconied buildings; our room is a small white cottage adorned with dark wood trims and furniture, large french doors opening onto a balcony with a breathtaking view of the city of Madurai. Coloured houses, the Meenakshi Temple in the distance. Palm trees and exotic flowering shrubs dotted throughout the property. I can see the end of a tennis court from our balcony. On the terrace veranda, eating breakfast there are peacocks wandering close by. These rascals are actually begging for food and if not being given, they will steal from your plate if you’re not watching. Bev lost her doughnut to the peacock because he was quick as lightning.
Our destination this morning is Meenakshi Temple built in late 1100 & early 1200, but some parts may date back to the 6th century. I’m going to have a difficult time picturing this for you as it is overwhelming. There are 14 towers with the temple complex. The towers have elaborate and complex designs carved into them painted in lovely pastel colours.
The temple is dedicated to Meenakshi who was a reincarnation of Parvati. The god Shiva and Parvati had a son who was Ganesh, the god who is part human and part elephant. Shiva is the god of destruction but also rebirth while Parvati is a symbol of fertility. All three of these gods are an integral part of the temple complex. The walking tour of the parts of the temple we were allowed to see (not being Hindu), was absolutely breathtaking. I can’t begin to describe the carving of the pillars and the hand painted ceilings and the statues. Because we weren’t allowed to bring cameras in, I will have to find pictures on the internet if I can to post with my blog. It’s hard to find internal pictures of the temples as cameras are not allowed.
We are now on the bus leaving Madurai. We were supposed to stay here 3 nights but because of the awful hotel, a change of itinerary was necessary.
Riding the bus, I can watch the landscape slide by; small farms that are fields dissected into little squares, just big enough to grow some vegetables or feed a milk cow; houses
that are little more than four walls with a tin roof or sometimes a thatched roof; palm trees; a goat herder leaning on his staff while a few long legged little goats graze on the weeds alongside the roadway; Many people are barefoot. Off in the distance on both sides are mountains but not a continuous line; a single chunk of mountain that looks like someone dropped a big hunk of clay onto the ground and it hardened into rock.
Today is a long bus ride day. We stop for lunch at Sangam Hotel but I have no idea which city it was in - they all look the same. However the hotel was exceptional. There was a costumed doorman there to help you with the door and several other men and women to direct you to a table. Some ordered from the menu and the rest of us had the buffet. It was mostly Indian food so I took a little of most of it to sample. It was an excellent meal, just don’t ask me what I ate.
Our journey takes us through an area of the caste of untouchables. After the constitution, they are no
longer called the untouchables, but Harijans - Scheduled Castes-but it did not improve their life conditions; they are very poor and live in dreadful conditions. In the caste system this group of people were traditionally oppressed and outcasts. They have only the lowliest of jobs; things no one else wants to do - cleaning garbage from streets, taking away dead carcasses. They are able to get a good education now because of the missionaries who established school systems.
Our hotel tonight is Paradise Hotel. It is big complex with several buildings that are very elaborate inside the room. It appears that this hotel was absolutely magnificent in its earlier years with heavy carved wood trims, antique lighting, fantastic painted ceilings and antique furniture. The wall of our bedroom has hand painted designs with jewelled embellishments and around the ceiling fixture is also a hand painted feature with sparkling jewels.
It’s 11 pm and I think I’m finally caught up with blogs, probably forgot lots of stuff since the last time there was good internet. I’m going to bed.
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