Monday, December 5, 2011

Madurai, the city of temples

After Kodaikanal we took a long drive to Madurai, the second largest city in the state of Tamil Nadu. We spent a day and a half here with the first afternoon spent seeing the old Hindu temples dating back 3000 years. We also did a little window shopping at some souvenir shops where I saw some beautiful hand made rugs, wood carvings and elaborate brass figurines. Unfortunately I didn't make it on day two's sightseeing trip as I was back in bed with another fever of almost 102 degrees. I'm not sure what's going on but that's the second time in a week where I had a fever for twenty four hours, and it's becoming quite annoying. While I was in bed everyone else returned to the temple at night for the night ceremony which is suppose to  be pretty elaborate. The second day everyone went on a city tour.

Madurai is a pilgrimage destination for many Hindus and we say numerous. The pilgrims conduct a 40 day fast in which they abstain from many food types, cannot sleep on a bed, shave or have sex, they cannot use soap or shampoo and can only bath in water of natural temperature, meaning water cannot be heated or cooled by an external means. They will also go barefooted and throughout out driving for the past 14 days we have seen these pilgrims waking, making their way towards this holy sight. It truly is a sight to be had, and a commitment to be admired.

After our two night stay in Madurai we drove through some plains and over some mountains to a really nice tea plantation where we're staying for two nights. It is the most luxurious place we've stayed to date with staff to handle all our needs and rooms with a view out towards the plantations and valley below. We're now in the state of Kerala where there is a 100 percent literacy rate, it's also the first democratically voted communist party. The plantation here grows tea, coffee and a variety of spices including peppers and cardomin. This area is rightfully known as the spice valley. Unfortunately due to my on and off fever and complete lack of energy I passed on the plantation tours and stayed in bed. Yesterday on the way here my mom had the driver take me to a hospital's emergency room just to see a doctor and make sure I got some good meds. The facility was very small but very clean. After paying the hefty bill of $4.20 I walked away with some drugs which will hopefully make me feel better in a day or two. Here's some photos taken of the temples in Madurai and some while were on the road.

Planting a new rice crop

The north tower built 450 years ago

The south tower with a smaller tower in front of it

The east tower built in 1200

Pilgrims lined up to enter the temple area

A temple statue on the way to the tea plantation

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