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Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai October 11th 2019

I really enjoy “hanging” with an auto rickshaw driver I met last year, Anand. He loves hauling foreigners around Madurai, showing them the least visited places, especially outside the city. This morning I asked him to take me to the Narasimha Temple nearby, a very old temple with a lion-headed deity. I’ve visited him before, and the deity has always captured my heart when I stare at his black head and powerful eyes. But it was the journey there and back that gave the surprises. The early morning light was just right on a nearby temple situated on a bed of granite. “Stop stop! The light is good!” We pulled over and I began snapping photos of the buildings. Then I noticed several men moving about in the open area beyond. They were setting up the ... read more
playing with the threads
Keep it straight
Animated conversation with the farmer

Asia » India » Kerala » Periyar National Park October 9th 2019

The goal was to experience the Kerala Thekkady area, including the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Preserve, in a budget friendly and authentic way. So when Sumod, a man I met on the streets of Kumily suggested this “option,” I thought, “that sounds fun.” But I had little idea what to expect. That’s okay, because that’s what I like about travel. Not knowing what to expect. It’s the best way because then anything can happen! And everything always works out, somehow. Sumod met me on the darkened street at 5:00 AM outside my homestay. We walked to the bus station, where our daily 5:15 AM bus was predictably late. This Kerala government bus makes a daily run to a faraway village, traveling through a portion of the Periyar National Park. We sped off into the dark ... read more
Strangler fig
The first of five buses I rode
houses in the hills

Asia » India » Kerala » Thekkady October 2nd 2019

First there was the matter of negotiating the price of the Jeep tour. Actually I hadn’t intended on doing the “jungle tour” with any of the jeep drivers hawking their offerings to visitors in the Thekkady area. But the two guys across the street waved a brochure at me and I checked it out. In broken English they offered the full or the half day tour, and showed photos of animals such as elephants and the wildly colored Malabar squirrel that tourists could see on the tour. I declined the full day, noting its 188 km length which was far too much bouncing in a jeep for me. But I did express interest in the half day and started walking away thinking about when I could do it. “Okay, last price 1800 rupees,” he called after ... read more
Snacks at the Viewpoint
A “Wild” Water Buffalo Seen on our Jungle Safari
Ruins

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai September 29th 2019

A friend invited me to stay at his house with his mother. It is located about six kilometers from the heart of Madurai, the Meenakshi Temple. I accepted his offer, even though transportation to the city interior can be a challenge, since buses are infrequent and I instead need to call a taxi. But participating in an Indian family’s household in a neighborhood is worth the inconvenience. Their small apartment is tucked into a row of interlocking, identical units, each with a balcony and a pullout on the first level for parking a scooter, motorcycle, or car. Yesterday a cow had parked himself in one of the pullouts of a nearby house and looked very comfortable munching its cud near the doorstep. Dogs roam the streets. Most are friendly, but two males took a dislike to ... read more
Umbrella and puddle
Cow Poop Decoration
Cow in the Street!

Asia » India » Kerala » Kannur September 21st 2019

Recently visited to Kannur with family and was mesmerised to see its eco-friendly service provision meant for all types (generations) of customers. The local people are fully aware about their responsibility as citizens to maintain the beauty and sustainability of the spot apart from being friendly and supportive to tourists. The Muzhappilangad drive-in beach is at its best, well maintained and following the sustainable practices... read more
St. Angelo fort
Payambalam

Asia » India » Karnataka » Bangalore » Koramangala September 21st 2019

Nearest point of River Cauvery would be around hundred kilometers from Bangalore city. Whenever opportunity comes I visit this majestic river to get rid of monotonous urban life. River has an unmatched attraction in human life. We were looking for a nearby place around Bangalore to spend the extended weekend of Ganesha Chaturthi. After a brief net search, we selected Galibore Nature Camp, a resort managed by Jungle Lodge & Resorts (JLR). Galibore Nature Camp was an outstanding tourist spot located on the bank of Cauvery river surrounded by hills, deep inside Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. Distance from Bangalore was around 100 kms which could be covered in around four hours. Myself and my wife were frequent visitors to JLR (Jungle Lodges & properties) properties. Unlike the indifferent attitude commonly experienced in Government managed hotels, their management ... read more
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Croc immobile
Green Bee Eater

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai September 20th 2019

“I don’t want to die!” That’s what I screamed when my driver Muthu decided to make me happy by turning around on the highway and heading back to a temple that I had spotted. He was driving me from Auroville to Madurai. As always, I had my eyes peeled for interesting temples along the road. I’ve got a weakness for Ayyanar temples, and through the low scrub trees I saw the telltale horses rearing into the sky. I was in the backseat, friend Vinod was in the front with Muthu. Vinod had been driving when I spotted the sculptures and casually said, “Ayyanar.” “You want to see?” Muthu asked. “It’s too much trouble. Never mind.” I saw there was no place to cross the median to go back on the other side of the four-lane highway, ... read more
A Helper Deity
Ayyanar’s Vehicle, the Horse
Beautiful Large Terracotta Horses

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Auroville September 7th 2019

Auroville. It’s a place unto itself, belonging to no one in particular, instead belonging to “humanity as a whole.” I first visited this place in 1974, six years after its founding when it was still a dusty landscape. They were building something. It was so unremarkable I can’t remember much. Just that there wasn’t much here. Now, after massive erosion control and the planting of over 2 million trees, the place is a shady oasis. It covers an area of over 20 square kilometers, containing villages and guest houses, cafes, schools, learning centers, workshops, stores, residential spaces, and public buildings of astounding and eclectic architecture. My rented electric bicycle zooms me around the place. I get lost as I weave along dirt paths and paved roads, but I always end up somewhere. Google Map is my ... read more
A Standing “Harp”
The Matrimandir: the glue of the community
I Love my Electric Bicycle

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram August 27th 2019

“They look like vultures, not eagles.” My driver Muthu and I were viewing a sign commemorating the spot where the priests used to feed the “eagles” that came daily to the hilltop temple of Thirukalukundram. “No, no, they are eagles,” he insisted. After all, the temple’s name includes a shortened version of the Tamil word for eagle, “kalugu.” The sign depicted a priest feeding two white birds whose heads looked very much like vultures. And from my later internet research, I learned that they were indeed Egyptian vultures. Everyday since “forever,” a pair came to this place to receive the food offerings. But for the last 15 years they haven’t come. It would have been nice to see the birds and the feeding. Nonetheless, Muthu and I trudged up the 539 steps to visit the small ... read more
the tank seen from the top of the hill
Buying flowers in bulk
husband and wife split banana leaves

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mamallapuram August 23rd 2019

Saravanan had just arrived on his motorcycle as I was returning from dinner to his guest house. His face looked tense. “You know my dog Daniel, he got in a fight with other dogs when I was away on vacation. For two weeks he was wandering around injured, but no one could catch him. So when I returned, I found him on the beach limping along with a huge wound on his neck. There were flies all over it, it smelled, and he could barely walk to me.” His troubled tone told me things were not so good with Daniel. “I thought he wouldn’t make it. But I called the doctor and she took him to a shelter and cleaned the wound and kept him there to heal. I had hoped that he would come back ... read more
Veterinary nurse and volunteer Elaine Philpot removes the old bandage
Elaine inspects the wound
Bandaged and secured.  Maybe.




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