Temple Junkie

Confucius say: woman who walks barefoot in Hindu temple should watch where she puts foot. Eeeuuuuw

Did actually see a yin yang symbol in Jambukeshvara Temple, along with quite a few Chinese style lions head and dragon carvings on the gopuram. I guess they have been trading for 3000+ years so exchange of art makes sense. But I’m getting ahead, distracted as I am by recollections of standing in ugh Vishnu knows what… I refuse to speculate. Anyway since last I wrote it’s been days of full on temple overload (I started this days ago, sorry, you do now have Pondicherry in between.)

We left the villa in Madurai and started winding our way north. First stop Trichy also known as Tiruchirapalli. Two temples, overnight stay, hotel not memorable. Temples totally memorable! The first Ranganatha the largest Vishnu temple in India and site of my unfortunate foot step. It was once destroyed by Muslim invaders so was rebuilt with seven walls and facilities for the entire town to hide inside in case if siege. Granaries, kitchens, sleeping quarters, cow sheds, the works. It was the penultimate day of a festival so there was lots happening. It’s an auspicious time for festivals in Tamil Nadu it seems. P’raps even festival season.

Having declined the temple involving climbing 426 steps we went instead as second of the day to Jambukeshvara a Shiva temple dedicated to water as one of the five elements. There are five famous Shiva temples dedicated to each of the elements.  Nice columns and light – site of yin yang carving. I’m being understated, apart from the elephant in chains I really did love this temple (it’s the one on the right above and these ones here below). Continue reading “Temple Junkie”

The Dedicated Temple Junkie – because it was totally worth it

So the totally excitement means I can never see too many temples, and believe me I’ve tried…

The first Vishnu temple Ranganatha was in excitement mode on the day before the end of festival. There was a massive chariot outside over 10m tall and the next day the gold deity dressed in a ruby studded cloak was to be taken outside at 6am and pulled a full lap of the temple town by hundreds of men.

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Apart from standing in muck, I had a great time. I was allowed inside the 5th wall where the statue was being prepared to be taken outside. There was much chanting and incense and drumming and blowing of a double reeded instrument called a Nadaswaram. Then the curtain hiding the god from the people was dropped and people raised their hands above their heads pointed in prayer and sought the blessing of the god. The carvings around the huge complex were astounding and I’m sure will prove boring and repetitive in my 1000 odd photos. But I had fun and quizzed the guide on Hindu mythology. Continue reading “The Dedicated Temple Junkie – because it was totally worth it”

The rocky town with the name I can’t pronounce

So before the temple junkie diversion I had already taken you to Pondicherry where I was kissed by an elephant. What happened next? Damn I keep getting behind. Apologies for any confusion or repetition. The next day in Pondicherry started early walking with Karthik up to the big Sunday food market at 630am: a riot of fish, fruit and veg and flowers. I photographed the cauliflower man. He told Karthik that everyone photographs him. In my best Hindi I told him that is because he is beautiful. Half the market cried laughing. It was huge.

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Then it was off with Joseph the guide to a commune and ashram. I’m of the view that “the Big Golden Golf Ball” is a cult and a scam so we’ll leave it at that.
Continue reading “The rocky town with the name I can’t pronounce”

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap… Cambodian Nostalgia

A friend has gone to Siem Reap, Cambodia today. Listening to her plans made me nostalgic so here are some journal entries from my time there Christmas 2012.

I’ve tried posting them in reverse order so you can read from the top down. Or just dip in as you like.  Enjoy

22/12… Santa Krishna’s in Siem Reap

Sing along please:- It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… there’s tinsel on the tree and a sleigh ride for you an’ me… yep Santa’s in shop windows, carols are blaring, war maimed beggars are wearing flashing Santa hats. Incongruous enough at any time, totally bizarre in 35C heat in Buddhist Cambodia, but I guess since the world didn’t end yesterday (21/12/12) we’re here in a multi-cultural multi-faith world a little longer. Also incongruous I must say was the tinsel and mistletoe adorning the Singapore Airlines plane interior yesterday – but if it’s good enough for Singapore Airlines I guess it’s good enough for Siem Reap, so Santa Krishna’s abound (local pronunciation).

Yes, you guessed it, I have arrived in Cambodia! Lara Croft and Indiana Jones eat your hearts out – coz I’m here!

Nothing much to say actually as I’ve not done any tomb raiding yet – I believe from the signs and themed souvenirs that Angkor Wat is somewhere nearby. Continue reading “22/12… Santa Krishna’s in Siem Reap”

23/12… Lady Croft

Ok I’m struggling. Clearly Lady Croft was a lot to live up to.

The day started dark, lit only by blue and white Christmas icicles and flashing stars adorning the trees around the hotel. Hot, but festive. Full of hope. All good.

We drove in the darkness at speeds never exceeding 30km/h toward Angkor Wat, bought my entry ticket, were dropped from the car in the dark and, leaving the world of artificial light, set off like good pilgrims in darkness down a track into the unknown.

Stars pricked the velvet blackness of the predawn sky, all was silent, the outer rock wall of the temple loomed in the faint light of the guide’s cell phone. We rounded a corner and gasped, just able to discern the towers of the great temple complex against the near black sky. Motorbikes passed breaking the moment with sound and light, flashlights popped as people tried to capture the dim moment in pixels. I adjusted my ISO to max, manually focused, sat the camera on what I think was a rock wall and 8 seconds later (no flash) had a moderately focused poorly composed silhouette of Angkor Wat with the evening star bright above her spires. Should have gone home then. Continue reading “23/12… Lady Croft”