In our tour of India, we visited the areas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Northern India, and Rajasthan.
We fly into Chennai (Madras) late one evening. Well, they say you never forget your first landing in India. That is a fact. Wow, it is a sensual overload. The heat and people really make an impression. On exit from the airport (through about a 1,000 people outside the exit) we board a taxi and ride into the city to our pre booked hotel. The neighborhood declines rapidly. It's dark and there are street people everywhere. The hotel is situated in an alley with people milling around, a burned out car, and piles of rubbish. What a view. We checkin and try to settle down for the night.
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At 5:15 am I discover my open window is right across the street from a Moslem temple and the call to prayer is blasted in my room - what an awaking! In the next few days we book up rail and plane tickets and then see the surrounding area. We visited Kanchipuran, city of temples; and Mahabalipuram, temples by the sea. We had our first experience with Hindu religion. This is the entrance to a Hindu Temple:
The figures on top are all gods. The Hindu religion believes in excess of 1000 gods, wow, keep that all straight. But, it makes for a visual site in the temples. We also ran into our first barred way - no entrance for Non-Hindu's in the inner sanctum.
We board a train and ride out to the fabled "Travelers Haven", Mysore. We find an excellent small town with a great group of people and a relaxed environment. After many negative experiences in Madras, Mysore provides welcome relief.
We get a pleasant surprise on arriving! The maharaja's palace is all lit up, 97,000 light bulbs! It's a national holiday, it's normally only lit on Sundays.
We visit the temple in daylight and find a delightful surprise. A fabulous place that is alive and maintained. It's obvious the maharaja does still live here. We travel to Chamundi Hill to visit a Hindu temple. Then on the way down we see our best example yet of the homage to the holy cow.
People have often asked how do you get around? Planes, trains, walking, biking, taxi, and the mainstay of transport -- the tut tut / rickshaw! A Motorized Golf Cart style of ride that can achieve 30-40 mph. Here you see the rickshaw rank.
We traveled with the three of us, three large backpacks, two day packs, and a driver in these - kind of cozy. Also, notice the cow wondering by. Cattle are everywhere! The first time you are reading a map and walking along, you step in a patty. Always makes a nice way to start the day. As I mentioned, we found the people of Mysore great. This is a family that allowed me to take their picture.
We traveled by rail back to Madras now and caught a plane to Delhi.