A Travellerspoint blog

February 2018

If you want to eat, then you have to cook

"Mixing, Mixing, Mixing! Yaa-aah!”

Day 12 Madurai > Periyār Sanctuary

Another 5.30am / 05:30 wakeup call with the festival music blasting outside woke all of us. This apparently goes on for a whole month!

Neither the less bags out by 7am / 07:00, breakfast then away at 8am / 08:00 for the drive to Kumily, Thekkady, adjacent to Periyar National Park. This area is said to be the spice capital of India.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periyar_National_Park

https://www.travelogyindia.com/wildlife-tours/national-park/periyar-national-park.html

https://www.tripsavvy.com/periyar-national-park-travel-guide-1539877

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On route lunch at Theni.

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I'm sure that you can come up with your own caption re Live Cakes

I'm sure that you can come up with your own caption re Live Cakes

Then continuing uphill to Thekkady and Michael's Inn.

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Periyar Lake

With a few afternoon options available, most of us went on the 90 mins boat ride on Periyar Lake for 1,100 rupees / NZ$23.20 / US$17.00. It was a great way to get to know the region and besides the bird life saw spotted deer, otters, Indian bison which are larger than the American ones and several elephants. We had great views from the top deck. The signage about what one cannot do on board the boat quickly brought out more “don'ts”.

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Otters

Otters

Otters

Otters

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Indian Bison

Indian Bison

Elephant

Elephant

Elephant

Elephant

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Elephant

Elephant

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Banana Chips

Back after 3pm / 15:00 and free time. A walk back to the main street for not only a 20 rupee coffee / NZ$0.40 / US$.30 at Better Bakers Coffee Club but the area is famous for their banana chips. Seeing how they were made being chopped up and then deep fried in the huge what I would call wok was interesting.

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Sorry about the wrong orientation

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Plus another shop keeper's son who wanted their photo sent back to them. He was a real salesman as I didn't want to buy a kilo bag of banana chips but they had under the counter smaller plain pack bags for sale.

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Bar-B-Que Thekkady Cooking Class

Topping, Tailing, Chopping, Slicing, Peeling, Mixing, Stirring, Pounding, Tasting

If we wanted dinner tonight then we will have to prepare and cook it. OK, that was the deal and what a hilarious fun night it turned out to be with Sheril infectious personality and his super catchphrases "Mixing, Mixing, Mixing! Yaa-aah!”. He would make an excellent TV host. His wife ably assisted him though I suspect she did most of the work behind the scene.

Beans Thoran, Dhal Thadukka, Okra Roasting, Pineapple Curry, Fish Curry, Paratha, Alu Masala and BBQ Masala Chicken.

The Bar-B-Que Thekkady cooking class was 550 rupee / NZ$11.60 / US$8.50.

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Rose, Andrea, Marina

Rose, Andrea, Marina

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Coconut

Coconut

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The Pros ... Shredding coconut

The Pros ... Shredding coconut

The Hack ... Trying to shred coconut

The Hack ... Trying to shred coconut

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One

One

CK praying Andrea puts in the correct portion

CK praying Andrea puts in the correct portion

Carol

Carol

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Okra

Okra

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One

One

Two

Two

Ten coconut oil

Ten coconut oil

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Fish curry

Fish curry

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Below ~ deep frying papadam

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Rose

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Love Andrea's facial expressions

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Marina

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Theresa

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Masala french fries

Masala french fries

Making Kerela paratha

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Rose keenly recording each step

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Our dinner

Posted by bruceontour 02:02 Archived in India Tagged elephant Comments (0)

Smiles & waves - where I took a photo every 21 seconds

Sitting back and relaxed during this 2 hour eco-friendly tour, being pulled along by a bicyclist on a cycle rickshaw saw the city sights at a slower pace and from street level.

How do I judge if I have Iiked a day? Often by the number of photos that I take. Well in these two hours took 343 or one every 21 seconds. No, I am not a Japanese tourist. Click ... click ...click

Again I will let the photos do the talking as to what I saw and experienced.

Felt like hundreds of not only children but also adults who were waving and smiling to us as we pass through several suburbs.

Tekla

Tekla

Prem

Prem

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Kolam

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No doubt will be my photobook cover photo.

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Had a stop and stretch for not only us but mofor the guys peddling and saw some weaving.

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Tekla

Tekla

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Tekla and Kinjal

Tekla and Kinjal

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Tekla and Kinjal

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Nina and Sophie

Nina and Sophie

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These 2 hours were certainly a highlight of the trip for me. Unfortunately this form of transportation is becoming less and less with fewer guys prepared to take on this sort of lifestyle. Yes, it is not only for us tourists but also for locals who will want to go short distances.

Dinner back at the hotel's Dakshin a multi-cuisine restaurant with the Lasooni Paneer Tikka = paneer and spinach cooked in a saffron based gravy clay pot rupees with the vegetable pulao 150 rupees / NZ$3.20 / US$2.30. I had expected the meal to come out in the clay pot but alas not so. It was cooked in a clay pot! All up with the Lime soda 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$0.80 came to 368 rupees / NZ$7.80 / US$5.70.

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ce79bf10-1ba1-11e8-9d6d-4d3a31d62a6f.JPGlaundry for my pants

laundry for my pants

Posted by bruceontour 12:47 Archived in India Tagged cycle_rickshaw maduri Comments (0)

Meenakshi Temple

Day 11 Meenakshi Temple Madurai

Off to Meenakshi Temple.

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Visited the gorgeous Meenakshi Temple which is considered to be the finest in South Indian religious architecture. This enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvati, or Meenakshi. Even before passing through the massive stone walls of the temple, the nine striking gopurams (monumental gateways covered with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters all painted in vivid colours) loom high above.

Wikipedia has an excellent breakdown about the temple.

I will let my i phone pictures do the talking as no camera were allowed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meenakshi_Temple

http://www.maduraimeenakshi.org/

http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/meenakshi-temple.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/india/meenakshi-amman-hindu-temple/

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Prem and local guide Nagendra

Prem and local guide Nagendra

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Denise

Denise

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Stand here

Stand here

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Look there

Look there

This is what you see

This is what you see

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Denise and Sophia

Denise and Sophia

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I just loved the ceilings and floors.

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Talk about being crushed

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The Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars.

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Love how this person in pink could have been easily part of the murals.

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Some of the 985 carved pillars.

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Sugar cane

Sugar cane

While writing this blog after the trip … Wow ... we are lucky to be one of the last public to be able to take our own photos inside Meenakshi Temple as now even mobile phones with its cameras are banned. Plenty on Google images anyway but that is not the point.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-to-visit-madurai-meenakshi-temple-1539720

After visiting the temple complex, visited a handicraft shop to capture the temple view from their roof top. I kind of suspected as we came down the different floors looking at the different craft items on display that it was a sales trap for the unwary ... “Do you want to buy …”

No, I didn’t want to buy a silk carpet nor a wooden carving but happy to take some photos as my memory.

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Just before reaching the bus, saw a street side tattoo artist at work. Yes, he was wearing gloves but …

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Then back on the bus and off for lunch ...

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Hotel Supreme’s Gurya Vegetarian Restaurant for a plate of Hakaua vegetarian noodles 110 rupees / NZ$2.30 / US$1.70 plus being hot the beer 210 rupees / NZ$4.40 / US$3.25. All up 326 rupees / NZ$6.90 / US$5.00.

http://www.hotelsupreme.in/

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Posted by bruceontour 02:52 Archived in India Tagged temple maduri Comments (0)

Sweating it out for the next 16 hours

Or how does one spend New Year's Eve?

Day 10 Puducherry > Madurai

Hot Breads for breakfast and I knew exactly what I wanted - the omelette breakfast combo for 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85. That plus some lunch food came to 419 rupees / NZ$8.90 / US$6.50.

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The hour breakfast stop was enough. Leaving Pondy and its French influence, time to hit the road westward for the inland trip to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

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Cattle Market

Along the way stopped for a very short 15 minutes at the village market near rural Madapattu where to me the cattle being auctioned was the feature. Loved to have spent longer here but then was it because it is a market or was it to better understand the cattle auctioning process?

One had to be careful where one placed ones foot as on re-boarding the bus several had &*#! in their soles. How the locals chucked at the efforts in removing the sh*t. With so much cattle around, what do you expect? I was lucky.

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Me next?

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Onwards towards Hotel Kannappa for a lunch break. Egg biriyani 145 rupees / NZ$3.00 / US$2.20 plus masala tea 30 rupees / NZ$0.60 / US$0.50.

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Passing more fields harvested with rice, villages with their open air butcher shops, vegetables and fish markets we made it to Madurai.

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Gandhi Museum

Stop at the Gandhi Museum and while we’re had nearly an hour here. Sad to say it wasn’t of interest to me.

Gandhi Memorial Museum, established in 1959, is a memorial museum for Gandhi located in the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India. Known asGandhi Museum, it is now one of the five Gandhi Sanghralayas (Gandhi Museums) in the country. It includes a part of the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhi_Memorial_Museum,_Madurai

http://gandhimuseum.org/site/gandian-institute/national/gandhi-museum-madhurai/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/madurai/attractions/gandhi-memorial-museum/a/poi-sig/1155208/356498

http://www.mkgandhi.org/gandhiyatra/madurai.htm

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I suspect that I was coming down with something as after we had checked into our hotel Star Residency and I had got some water and Sprite for the mini fridge, it was into bed sweating it out for the next 16 hours. (A couple of Panadol seem to fix this the next morning.)

Some much for seeing in New Year. The 6th roof top celebrations music and midnight fireworks could easily be heard on our 5th floor.

Posted by bruceontour 23:46 Archived in India Tagged market gandhi Comments (0)

Pondy / Pondicherry / Puducherry

Was I in France or India?

Pondicherry / Puducherry was formerly the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town. There is still a strong French influence in the city's layout with wide boulevards and French-style houses, street signs in French, policemen with their round French style hats but the city is still undoubtedly Indian.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puducherry

http://www.pondytourism.in/about-us.php

The union territory of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry; generally known as ‘Pondy’) was under French rule until 1954. Some people here still speak French (and English with French accents). Hotels, restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ shops sell a seductive vision of the French-subcontinental aesthetic, enhanced by Gallic creative types and Indian artists and designers. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just north of town, Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. Thus Pondy’s vibe: less faded colonial-era ville, more bohemian-chic, New Age–meets–Old World hang-out on the international travel trail.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/tamil-nadu/puducherry-pondicherry

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Someone important.

Hot Breads Pomegranate juice 60 rupees / NZ$1.25 / US$0.90 and along with their vegetarian pasta combo pasta, garlic toast, nuggets, mini pastry and small soft drink 180 rupees / NZ$3.80 / US$2.80 became my lunch. With those nasty local and state GST taxes came to 252 rupees/ NZ$5.30 / US$3.90.

http://www.hotbreads.in/

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Checked in Abirami Residency for a short break before off again ...

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From our hotel

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Sri Aurobindo Ghose

Learnt a bit about Sri Aurobindo Ghose at the ashram. No photos. Silence as we walked around the meditative courtyard and sat for 10 minutes with other devotees in their dark Crimson long robes watching people file pass the tomb.

Then through the library where some brought books.

Founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and a French-born woman, ‘the Mother’, this famous spiritual community has about 2000 members in its many departments. Aurobindo's teachings focus on 'integral yoga' that sees devotees work in the world, rather than retreat from it. Visits to the main, grey-walled ashram building are cursory: you see the flower-festooned samadhi of Aurobindo and the Mother, then the bookshop.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/puducherry-pondicherry/attractions/sri-aurobindo-ashram/a/poi-sig/1151786/356493

http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/

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Street hawker outside Sri Aurobindo Ghose

Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Next block was the Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Again no photos inside. With the guy on the drum and another on a horn, music filled the temple.

Learnt a little bit about Krishna.

Manakula Vinayagar Temple (Tamil: மணக்குள விநாயகர் கோவில்) is a Hindu temple in the Union Territory of Puducherry, India.

Dedicated to the god Ganesa, it is a popular pilgrimage site and tourist destination in Puducherry. The temple is of considerable antiquity and predates French occupation of the territory. During the tenure of Dupleix, there were attempts to destroy the temple, but it was spared owing to strong protests from the Hindu population and the threat of British and Maratha invasion of the territory. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manakula_Vinayagar_Temple

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/puducherry-pondicherry/attractions/sri-manakula-vinayagar-temple/a/poi-sig/478960/356493

http://www.pondytourism.in/iconics-innerpage.php?id=24&district=Puducherry&category=198

http://www.manakulavinayagartemple.com/

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A walk down towards the waterfront.

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Traffic police & Police

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By now it was nearly dark and with an hour spare before dinner Andrea & I walked along the promenade as far as the closed off pier. Wonder how the people got onto the pier when the gate was closed?

The promenade was crowded with locals enjoying the cool sea breeze. Preparations were underway for New Year's celebrations.

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Pondy is a seaside town, but that doesn’t make it a beach destination; the city’s sand is a thin strip of dirty brown that slurps into a seawall of jagged rocks. But Goubert Ave (Beach Rd) is a killer stroll, especially at dawn and dusk when half the town takes a romantic wander. In a stroke of genius, authorities have banned traffic here from 6pm to 7.30am.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/puducherry-pondicherry/attractions/seafront/a/poi-sig/1357629/356493

The police band turned up and gave a performance. Actually I think that it was a photo shoot as some young female police officers had to before shown how to hold the instruments before getting their photo taken.

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Being by the sea it was another snapper fish with prawn pepper sauce and mash potato dinner at Satsanga – a French & Italian Restaurant. With it being busy season, the service wasn’t exactly the best. 750 rupees / NZ$15.80 / US$11.60 all up including the Kingfisher beer 220 rupees / NZ$4.60 / US$3.40.

http://pondicherryinfo.in/main/locations/satsanga-guest-house-restaurant-in-pondicherry/

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A half hour walk back to Abirami Residency. In fact it was quicker to take one’s life into ones hands and walk along the street as oppose the footpath.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:17 Archived in India Comments (0)

5 Rathas

Day 9 Māmallapuram > Puducherry

Will the morning light and atmosphere be as good as yesterday? No it wasn't. But neither the less made the most of what was happening around me. So up at 7am / 07:00 and spent 30 minutes revisiting the sights and sounds that was happening in the immediate streets.

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After yesterday hearty breakfast at Nameste Restaurant decided on a repeat muesli and American Breakfast for 280 rupees / NZ$5.90 / US$4.30. Not disappointed at all and thoroughly recommended.

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Again the roads were jam packed with buses and people as the rest of the group went to the Shore Temple I took time out in the comfort of the bus as it drove around looking for a park having been there yesterday.

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Why is there a scarecrow? To signify a building is incomplete. When the halfway through the process, they have the feeling of incomplete so hang a scarecrow in the front of the building construction to change the attention of the people who are passing the construction while looking at the construction. By hanging this kind of ‘dummy’, they expect that people won’t look at the construction or the building when their attention goes for the ‘dummy’.

If they are unable to build a scarecrow, at least they draw a scribble or a skeleton man and sometimes scribble snakes.

5 Rathas

Pancha Rathas (also known as Five Rathas or Pandava Rathas) is a monument complex at Mahabalipuram, is an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture.

Dating from the late 7th century, it is attributed to the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I (630–680 AD; also called Mamalla, or "great warrior") of the Pallava Kingdom. An innovation of Narasimhavarman, the structures are without any precedent in Indian architecture. The complex is under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed by UNESCO as Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.

Each of the five monuments in the Pancha Rathas complex resembles a chariot (ratha), and each is carved over a single, long stone or monolith, of granite which slopes in north-south direction with a slight incline. Though sometimes mistakenly referred to as temples, the structures were never consecrated because they were never completed following the death of Narasimhavarman I. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancha_Rathas

http://www.culturalindia.net/monuments/mahabalipuram-rathas.html

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mamallapuram-mahabalipuram/attractions/five-rathas/a/poi-sig/478892/356492

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Continued passing rice paddy fields, salt flats, crabs and prawn farms towards Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry).

We passed a possession of a Hindu goddess.

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Then stopped at a road side rural village Hindu temple.

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Posted by bruceontour 23:07 Archived in India Comments (0)

Two impressive carved monolithic rock relief boulders

Day 8 Māmallapuram / Mahabalipuram

Up early and from the top of Hotel Mamalla Inn roof top pool, looked out over the surrounding area with the lighthouse in the back ground.

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Off at 8.30am / 08:30 for a brief 30 minute orientation of Māmallapuram / Mahabalipuram.

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large_IMG_6244.JPGlarge_IMG_6245.JPGNina Sophie Carol

Nina Sophie Carol

Nina Sophie

Nina Sophie

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Then free time today to explore so after the brief orientation went back to the area around the Arjuna’s Penance and captured the atmosphere and colourful scenes of the people dressed in their red while the morning light was still with me.

Arjuna’s Penance is one of the magnificent monuments of Mahabalipuram. This wonderful bas air relief dates back to the mid-seventh century. Standing tall at a height of 43 feet, the monolith was carved on the face of two huge adjoining boulders, making its length around 96 feet. The majestic structure cannot be made out in photographs, it deserves to be praised by one’s own eyes. The subject of the massive structure is either Arjuna's Penance or the Descent of the Ganges, or possibly both. Historians and experts of archeology have never settled on one account as there are not sufficient sources or records.

https://www.tourism-of-india.com/arjunas-penance-mahabalipuram.html

http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/india/mamallapuram/ap01.html

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mamallapuram-mahabalipuram/attractions/arjuna-s-penance/a/poi-sig/478890/356492

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Kolam

Just loved the kolam which is a South Indian style of painting using rice flour in front of their houses.

Kolam is a form of drawing that is drawn by using rice flour / chalk / chalk powder / rock powder often using naturally/synthetically colored powders in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and some parts of Goa, Maharashtra, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and a few other Asian countries.

A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots.

In South India, it is widely practised by female Hindu family members in front of their houses.

More complex Kolams are drawn and colors are often added during holiday occasions and special events. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=ahSSWpZ-xLfRBIvVstgC&q=kolam&oq=kolam&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0j0i67k1l4j0j0i67k1l3j0.10015.10015.0.12247.1.1.0.0.0.0.226.226.2-1.1.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.1.225....0.YbBvwZAHOnA

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Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple

Inside the Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple and joined the throngs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirukadalmallai

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Then breakfast at the Nameste Restaurant. Best so far with the muesli, fruit, curd 100 rupees / NZ$2.10 / US$1.60 followed by the hearty American breakfast 180 rupees / NZ$3.80 / US$2.80.

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Passing the many shops with the tailors outside seeking clients to take their measurements and within the day whip up shirts and pants, sandal makers doing the same plus stone carvers chipping away at their craft.

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Down to the beach with the cooling sea breeze, cows relaxing and wandered to the end of the beach to find a hole in the fence. Realised that I had come out inside the Shore Temple which we are to visit tomorrow.

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Shore Temple

This impressive group of monuments were sculpted during the 7th and 8th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of these, the Shore Temple stands out for it’s a marvellous view of the Bay of Bengal's shore. Made of granite it's actually a twin-temple dedicated both to the Hindu gods, Vishnu and Shiva.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shore_Temple

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mamallapuram-mahabalipuram/attractions/shore-temple/a/poi-sig/478906/356492

http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/shore-temple.html

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Mahabalipuram Beach

Passing the many stalls followed the sea of “red and yellow” and descended the sandy path to the water edge by Mahabalipuram beach. Some braved the water but most stayed beach side.

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Mahabalipuram Lighthouse

Standing like a beckon, of course the lighthouse beckoned me. After paying the 20 rupees / NZ$.040 / US$0.30 for me and 25 rupees / NZ$0.45 / US$0.40 for my camera, climbed the steep tiny steps. Crowd control was kind of in place as small groups were allowed outside to walk around taking in the views of the surrounding countryside. Wish that I was a smaller person like the Indians are.

(PS I read this after the trip while writing the blog ….

If the light-house is crowded and if you see anyone standing on the steps when you enter, it is better to skip and not buy the ticket, as it takes a long time for limited batch of people (10-15 are allowed at a time) to climb the last stretch that has very narrow wooden steps. These steps (around 15) at last are very step and only one person can climb at a time. It may not be a good idea to try to climb this if you are over 50 years of age.

http://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.co.nz/2015/10/mahabalipuram-lighthouse.html

Hint – While I didn’t, perhaps climb the neighbouring Mahishamardini Rock Cut Mandapa for a similar but slightly lower view.

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By now it was after 1pm and the afternoon sun and humidity was kicking in.

Perhaps I should have gone out to see the orange sunset or wandered down to the beach to see the people but didn't.

Dinner at 7am / 19:00 at Gecko Restaurant. It was either Grandma fish special dish or have their sea food platter. Chose the platter and perhaps it should have been Grandma fish dish. Yes, I was disappointed for what I got on my platter for 580 rupees / NZ$12.20 / US$9.00. Toss in a Kingfisher beer 300 rupees / NZ$6.30 / US$4.65 and chai 80 rupees / NZ$1.70 / US$1.25 came in total to 960 rupees / NZ$20.20 / US$14.90.

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Posted by bruceontour 00:19 Archived in India Comments (0)

Devaraja Market

Day 7 Mysore > Chennai > Māmallapuram

Despite the constant sounds of the vehicles horns performing like an orchestra outside along a major road, breakfast was enjoyed under the pavilion in the open air of the Green Hotel grounds.

While breakfast at 395 rupees / NZ$8.30 / US$6.10 cost twice that I could have had back at the hotel where we were staying, nothing beats this hotel setting and it's colonial atmosphere. I could well imagine how the gentry would have been served their g&t out sitting on the green lawn in the midst of this bustling city.

http://www.greenhotelindia.com/

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Walking back hearing the sound of saxophone being played in the middle of a local park near place called Rythmn and Blues. Wonder if there is a connection?

Devaraja Market

Local bus to the Devaraja Market.

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Pomegranate

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Pomegranate

Pomegranate

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Only an hour was allowed here and yes, I could have certainly spent more time here talking to the store keepers and asking if they wouldn't mind their picture being taken. Two quick photos - head and shoulder plus one showing what they were selling. Some wanted their photo sent to them.

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A real young salesman ... he will go far. Pity I had no need to buy any of his paints.

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180 rupees for the imported American apples

140 rupees for the local Indian ones

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50 rupees for the garland of flowers - will be taken to the temple

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Was asked if I wanted to see how incense is hand rolled. Yes, then the "hook" with the perfume sampling and "you want to buy" routine.

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Puffed rice - paper rice

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Sugar cane ... looks like soap

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Mouse / rat (rodent) trap

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Banana leaf

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While I have been through many local markets around the world, this one fascinated me with the colour and fragrance of the guys and girls making the flower garlands. It was pointed out that my requested posed photos of store keepers are of males. Need to work on getting the gender balance right.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mysuru-mysore/attractions/devaraja-market/a/poi-sig/1293025/356332

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Local bus 266 back, "Whats app" call to brother Tim and 30 minutes was enough time to head to the neighbouring food court for a cold press orange and lime juice at This and That for 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 that took far too long to make. Perhaps they had to pick the fruit.

Jalandhar Express train

Tuk tuk to the railway station.

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Recharging their mobile phones

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Fifteen minutes late in leaving at 2.40pm / 14:40. The Jalandhar Express train ride to Chennai on the east coast aboard Indian's vast rail system soon quickly past.

Met fellow passengers and let the landscapes soak in with a bright orange sunset before night darkness quickly descended.

Pre-dinner drinks served meaning was given a 1 litre bottle of water and 250ml tetra pack of juice.

Dinner service started at 6pm with a tray of Indian snacks and finished with a tub of ice cream served after 9pm.

In between was a couple of bread sticks and butter, soup, tea or coffee before served the main meal of rice, Dahl and a vegetarian container plus yoghurt curd. Yes, the railway crew certainly stretched out the meal service and why not.

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End of the line when the train pulled in to Chennai Central just after 10pm / 22:00.

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A 90 minute bus ride to the Māmallapuram got us there around midnight.

Posted by bruceontour 16:59 Archived in India Tagged market train Comments (0)

Chamundeshwari Temple

Later just before the sun set in the distance, joined the throngs of pilgrims at the gorgeous Chamundeshwari Temple located on top of Chamundi Hills. Enjoyed its intricate architecture and antics of the resident monkeys. At times it felt like a pressure cooker with the temple staff pushing us through like a factory conveyor belt. I felt for the locals some who would have travelled some distance to this special place.

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Kinjal

Kinjal


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Prem

Prem

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http://chamundeshwaritemple.in/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mysuru-mysore/attractions/chamundi-hill/a/poi-sig/1294459/356332

http://www.mysoretourism.org.in/chamundeshwari-temple-mysore

By now the sun had dipped way below the horizon and it was getting dark but with my lens, Nandi the Bull ridden by the Hindu god Shiva turned out fine.

There is a huge granite Nandi on the 800th step on the hill in front of a small Shiva temple a short distance away. This Nandi is over 15 feet high, and 24 feet long and around its neck are exquisite bells. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamundeshwari_Temple

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A late dinner at the food court behind the Treebo Spectrum Suites ended this part of the journey. Chicken Reshmi Kebab 260 rupees / NZ$5.50 / US$4.00 and a chicken Briyani 170 rupees / NZ$3.60 / US$2.60 totalling 430 rupees / NZ$9.10 / US$6.70 was more than enough for dinner.

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Posted by bruceontour 17:25 Archived in India Tagged chamundeshwari_temple Comments (0)

Mysore Palace

Day 6 Mudumalai > Mysore

After breakfast 250 rupees/ NZ$5.30 / US$3.90 it was back into the jeeps for the short transit to the bus. Because of the narrowest and rough road, no way could the bus have negotiated the tight corners, water crossing and rough surface. Made sure that I was again sitting in the front as in the back with my height I was initially yesterday hitting my head on the roof of the jeep as we headed back to the village of Masinagudi.

Passing fields where cotton, banana, ginger and tumeric were grown.

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A toilet and snack stop and for me a Black Forest Cocoa 150 rupees/ NZ$3.20 / US$2.30.

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Mysore Palace

I could easily imagined life as a Maharaja living the high life in the Mysore Palace. This stunning palace was the home of the Maharajas of Mysore, the former royal family, which ruled from 1399 to 1950. A rich history of Indian royalty soaked in the splendor of an era long gone. Love taking photos of mirrors. Perhaps I should have concentrated on taking pictures of the floor tiles.

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At the end of the hour that we were allowed here, what does one do while waiting for the rest of the group? People watching.

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Sophia

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Unfortunately we were not here on Sunday as that night and all national holidays, from 7pm to 8pm, the palace is illuminated by nearly 100,000 light bulbs that accent its majestic profile against the night. This also happens for just 15 minutes after the Monday to Saturday sound and light show has finished.

Ambavilas Palace, otherwise known as the Mysore Palace, is a historical palace and a royal residence at Mysore in the southern Karnataka state of India. It is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. The palace is in the centre of Mysore, and faces the Chamundi Hills eastward. Mysore is commonly described as the 'City of Palaces', and there are seven palaces including this one; however, 'Mysore Palace' refers specifically to this one within the Old Fort.

Mysore Palace is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in India, after the Taj Mahal, with more than 6 million annual visitors. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysore_Palace

https://mysorepalace.gov.in/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mysuru-mysore/attractions/mysuru-palace/a/poi-sig/449543/356332

http://www.culturalindia.net/monuments/mysore-palace.html

A late lunch at the Beer Garden upstairs of the Parklane Hotel not far away. Time for a change from Indian, so it was Chinese Scechwan noodles / chow mein 185 rupees / NZ$3.90 / US$2.90 and instead of a beer it was Lime soda 60 rupees / NZ$1.25 / US$0.90. Comfort food for 260 rupees/ NZ$5.30 / US$4.00.

https://www.liveinstyle.com/nightlife/mysore/outlet/beer-garden-mysore

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Posted by bruceontour 16:26 Archived in India Tagged mysore_palace Comments (0)

Tiger!

How lucky were we to see one

On entering the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Theresa somehow spotted one of the 50 tigers in this reserve lying low amongst the greenery as we drove along. Wow. What a totally unexpected surprise to see an Indian Bengal tiger out in the wild and from the comfort of an aircon bus.

https://www.mudumalaitigerreserve.com/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/tamil-nadu/mudumalai-national-park

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Besides sighting the tiger, saw a baby orphan elephant following its mahout plus adult elephants, spotted deer and peacocks.

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The bus could get all the way to our overnight accommodation so we were all off loaded into several 4x4 jeeps.

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With all the stops we were late leaving for the short jeep safari along dirt roads parallel to the the Moyar Dam Rd going as far as the Moyar Check Dam itself.

It was certainly not an African "off road" safari. This Indian safari was "on the all tar seal yet very narrow road".

A haven providing one of the most important refuges for elephants and bison in India. Saw lots of samba and chital or spotted deer, monkeys, peacock and a couple of elephants but no bisons.

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On the way back in the dark somehow a jeep up front saw a herd of elephants in the distance. Sure enough they came and crossed the road in front of us. Pity about the out of focus images. Perhaps I should have videoed it.

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Dinner 350 rupees / NZ$7.40 / US$5.40 plus the beer 200 rupees/ NZ$4.20 / US$3.10 was back at De Rock Jungle Living Resort, near the village of Masinagudi. Spend the night here despite putting up with noisy children running around out and thin walls. I had enough for the day to stay up longer for the fire pjt to be lit.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/in/de-rock-jungle-living-masinagudi.en-gb.html?aid=318615;label=New_English_EN_NZ_20480110465-yt5i06N50frqe5wlZ9V3qQS217243807125%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap1t1%3Aneg%3Afi13968834873%3Atiaud-146342138470%3Adsa-206305369705%3Alp1011036%3Ali%3Adec%3Adm;sid=5487bdc69c9176d7dece67b676974896;dest_id=-2104156;dest_type=city;dist=0;hapos=1;hpos=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;srepoch=1519286512;srfid=90573c403552e5b33ee6c39909fb539dc0703dc2X1;srpvid=ac423878b3ac003c;type=total;ucfs=1&#hotelTmpl

Posted by bruceontour 13:50 Archived in India Tagged tiger Comments (0)

Edakkal Caves

Day 5 Kalpetta > Mudumalai

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How to unload Indian style!

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Onwards and upwards. Well it was certainly upwards by shark's pony as we walked up towards the Edakkal Caves.

Thank goodness it was still relatively cool when we headed off walking up the steep winding road.

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Once at the ticket gate paid the 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$0.80 for the privilege of taking photos with my camera. Despite the signs of no mobile phone photography, how in the world could this be enforced?

As it was a plastic free zone, those with a plastic water bottle had to pay 20 rupees / NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 which was refundable on exit.

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Then the steps upwards, both stone and metal. Past through the first cave which was nothing and up more steps to the viewpoint overlooking where we had climbed from. By now I was drenched in sweat. Such was the humidity (for me at least).

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Down into the cave and after an explanation one could see the outline of the humans, animals and flowers. Otherwise it was merely a series of scratchings in the rock.

The area boasts a long and influential history with numerous ancient relics like the Edakkal Caves which depict a civilization and are believed to have been a shelter of Stone Age neolithic people.

Edakkal Caves (Malayalam: ഇടക്കൽ ഗുഹകൾ) are two natural caves at a remote location at Edakkal, 25km / 15.5mi from Kalpetta in the Wayanad district of Kerala in India's Western Ghats. They lie 1,200m / 3,900ft above sea level on Ambukutty Mala, near an ancient trade route connecting the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar coast. Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BCE, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are rare and are the only known examples from South India.

These are not technically caves, but rather a cleft, rift or rock shelter approximately 96 ft / 29m by 22ft / 6.7m), a 30-foot-deep / 9.1m) fissure caused by a piece of rock splitting away from the main body. On one side of the cleft is a rock weighing several tons that covers the cleft to form the 'roof' of the cave. The carvings are of human and animal figures, tools used by humans and of symbols yet to be deciphered, suggesting the presence of a prehistoric settlement.

The petroglyphs inside the cave are of at least three types. The oldest may date back to over 8,000 years. Evidences suggest that the Edakkal caves were inhabited several times at different points in history. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edakkal_Caves

https://www.trawell.in/kerala/wayanad/edakkal-caves

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Downwards was the easy bit.

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A welcome cup of Chai with Phrem then not one but 2 ice creams (20 rupees / NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 each) quenched the thirst after the walk.

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Leaving the hills for the plains and stop for the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Several unexpected stops like seeing the ladies having their tea leaves just plucked being weighed.

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Then the celebration at a small village Hindu temple.

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Plus at Thurappally lunch was at New Apex Restaurant. South Indian Tally 100 rupees / NZ$2.10 / US$1.60 and a Lemon Soda for 20 rupees / NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 which took an hour meant we were very late getting to our overnight accommodation.

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Posted by bruceontour 13:00 Archived in India Comments (1)

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Lunch seated lotus position

Day 4 Kalpetta

Morning has broken with fog covering the Ambilery Stadium soccer field outside our apartment block. The temperature was certainly much cooler being 1,200 metres up in the hills. Perhaps have to unpack the light weight fleece jacket.

Breakfast 175 rupees / NZ$3.70 / US$2.70 was at the Villa outside on their deck overlooking the soccer field. Being located out in the suburbs, there were no other options for breakfast.

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Because it was Christmas Day the prehistoric Eddakal Caves were closed but we will see them tomorrow.

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Instead undertook a nature walk in the beautiful Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Home to many endangered species it has an amazing range of flora and fauna.

http://www.forest.kerala.gov.in/index.php/wildlife/2015-03-16-09-50-24/2015-06-26-09-04-29/wayanad-wildlife-sanctuary

Past crops of casava / tapioca, coffee, rice had just been harvested (1 crop here), turmeric, bettle nuts, banana, young mango that will be harvested in June and July, rubber trees, coconut, ant nests up in a tree, wasp nest, huge spider where the photo doesn't give justice to it's size, pepper, white egret birds, butterflies fluttering about, lemon grass, sweet corn, bitter melon growing in the vegetable garden plus a tribe of bornnet mackack monkeys.

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Young coconut

Young coconut

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Ant nest up in the tree

Ant nest up in the tree

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Rubber

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Young coconut

Young coconut

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Bitter melon

Bitter melon

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Huge spider

Huge spider

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Pepper

Pepper

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Hundred of ants

Hundred of ants

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Bonnet Macaque

Bonnet Macaque

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The local children swimming while their mothers were doing the laundry down at the river.

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Some of the local lads wanted a selfie so of course I obliged and asked for one in return.

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Coffee beans

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Got a taste of the region's culture as we visited the local Kuruma tribal village.

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Lunch was vegetarian served with us seated on the ground cross legged or for those who can in the lotus position 150 rupees / NZ$3.20 / US$2.30.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=kuruma+tribe&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbas=0&biw=958&bih=887

Ed

Ed

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Wild honey

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Marina with our host and her son

Marina with our host and her son

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Our host with son

Our host with son

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Much of Kalpetta was closed due to it being Christmas Day. For the grand total of 95 rupees / NZ$2.00 / US$1.50, my Appam with Kadal Curry 70 rupees / NZ$1.50 / US$1.10 and can of Pepsi 25 rupees / NZ$0.50 / US$0.40 was dinner at The Woodlands, another pure vegetarian restaurant.

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Walked up and down the main street and I was glad we left back for the Villa - pollution, poor footpath meaning at times needing to walk on the street and with the poor street lighting and closeness of the traffic - potential for accidents.

http://www.thewoodlandshotel.com/

Posted by bruceontour 02:07 Archived in India Comments (0)

Cheapest dinner of the trip

Just 50 rupees / NZ $1.00 / US$0.80.

Day 3 Kochi > Kozhikode > Kalpetta

Birds are awake and the sun is up so must I.

With a 9am / 09:00 departure for the railway station, it was out just after 7am / 07:00 to find somewhere open for breakfast. From yesterday's walk around, this town certainly doesn't wake early for the cafes and restaurants to open to cater for the early bird tourist breakfast trade. Perhaps the tourists just want a lie in.

Went to a bakery that I saw yesterday morning open in Burgher St with a view to buy my lunch to eat on the train and they were open serving breakfast.

After Guenter's email suggestion to try Masala Tea and as it was on the menu, a large cup 60 rupees / NZ$1.25 / US$.90 was ordered along with a banana coconut pancake 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 and scrambled eggs 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$.80 rupees. That plus lunch came to 365 rupees / NZ$7.60 / US$5.60 was more than enough to set myself up for the day.

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A 9am / 09:00 met to leave with the promised stop at the Synagogue.

Opened at 10am / 10:00 so we had a bit of free time before that.

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The handpainted blue Chinese floor tiles were all different yet at a glance the same. Plus the many chandeliers were 2 unique features of this 400 year old building. No photography inside the Synagogue. As I like taking photos of door frames, somehow the interior got in the way.

Originally built in 1568, this synagogue was partially destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662, and rebuilt two years later when the Dutch took Kochi. It features an ornate gold pulpit and elaborate hand-painted, willow-pattern floor tiles from Canton, China, which were added in 1762. It’s magnificently illuminated by Belgian chandeliers and coloured-glass lamps. The graceful clock tower was built in 1760. There's an upstairs balcony for women, who worshipped separately according to Orthodox rites.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/attractions/a/poi-sig/356338

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Then back into the shuttle van and onto the railway station.

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Car C1, seat 68 but gather under the sign 4 on platform 1. Confused?

Perhaps it should be... go to platform 1, find the sign with 4 on it and this is where the train carriage C1 will stop. Board and find seat 68.

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Climbed aboard, took a seat and enjoyed the 4 hour ride to Kozhikode.

The bullet train it certainly was not. Left at noon some 40 minutes late. Past through the countryside and the new airport with their solar panels laid out like soldiers in neat rows capturing the sun rays allowing it to be the first solar powered airport in the world.

From the comfort of the aircon carriages we past fields of rice that had just being harvested, tall coconut trees and banana plantations. Villages dotted the countryside.

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Biryani, coffee, Chai, cold drinks shouted out by the Arenco guys dressed in their red tops as they constantly went up and down the carriages touting for trade carrying their goods on the their heads cushioned by a flat top baseball cap.

The train took 4 hours 40 minutes to reach Kozhikode with many stops along the way.

The Kozhikode railway station was bustling crowded with people coming and going or patiently waiting for their train.

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All aboard our own bus for the 2.5 hour journey uphill to Kalpetta in the Wayanad district.

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Lost count of the number of tight switch backs. The driver had to literally use the whole road to get around the tight corners. So many cars but it's Christmas Eve and was to be expected as people headed back to their home area.

Passing fields of pineapple and rubber plantations we finally reached Kalpetta in the dark.

We all decided to go vegetarian but the crazy busyness of the Udupi Restaurant meant one group had to wait for quite a while before a table became free. Reminded me of some of the jam packed Chinese restaurants that I've been to.

Cheapest dinner so far. Just 50 rupees / NZ $1.00 / US$0.80 for the Masala Dosa while the Pepsi cost 30 rupees / NZ$0.60 / US$0.50. (PS - This turned out to be the cheapest dinner of the whole trip.)

Google Images
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Udupi+Restaurant+Kalpetta&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiMrvHAgbnZAhWBnpQKHcvVDjkQ_AUICygC&biw=958&bih=887

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Finally got to Villa Wynard for the next 2 nights. The last couple hundred of metres we had to walk as the bus was too large for the narrow lane. Thank goodness our bags came in the Villa Wynard's small van.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=958&bih=887&tbm=lcl&ei=JHOOWonWN8Wd0wLcuLaoCw&q=villa+wayanad+kalpetta+kerala&oq=+Villa+Wynard++Kalpetta&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i13k1l2j0i8i13i10i30k1.79657.81601.0.84177.2.2.0.0.0.0.687.687.5-1.1.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.1.685....0.vLSVAo-NyOQ#rlfi=hd:;si:8487123184983421820;mv:!1m3!1d7449.842397728897!2d76.08083!3d11.6152105!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i208!2i366!4f13.1

An apartment block with several rooms, some sharing the bathroom. Great water pressure after the last hotel which was at times a dribble. Talk about narrow and firm beds. We were warned about the firm beds so no surprise here.

Posted by bruceontour 00:29 Archived in India Tagged train vegetarian_food Comments (0)

Ginger in everything!

Lime soda, prawns, grilled fish & ice cream & banana chips

Dutch Palace

Tuk tuk or auto rickshaw to the Dutch Palace.

Andrea and Raj

Andrea and Raj

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The Palace was built and gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the king of Cochin around 1555. The Dutch carried out some extensions and renovations in the palace in 1663, and thereafter it was popularly called Dutch Palace. The rajas also made more improvements to it. Today, it is a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas and notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, which are in the best traditions of Hindu temple art. The palace was built to appease the king after they plundered a temple nearby. Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattancherry_Palace

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By now it was certainly not only hot but also humid. With the crowd it was no fun being herded like cattle inside the palace.

No photography in the main rooms so have a look at Google Images.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=dutch+palace+in+kochi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjXnc3f0bfZAhWGbbwKHcJUCm0QsAQIOw&biw=1536&bih=734

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattancherry_Palace

https://www.keralatourism.org/destination/mattancherry-palace-kochi/178

http://www.keralatourism.org/kochi/dutch-palace-mattancherry.php

http://www.cochin.org.uk/tourist-attractions/mattancherry-palace.html

As it was a worship day the nearby 400-year-old synagogue was closed. Never mind, we will visit it tomorrow before heading to the railway station.

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Ginger House

The trip notes said “free time to explore Matlancherry’s spice market and Jewish Quarter" but as I was here yesterday I opted to take Phrem’s suggestion and had lunch with Marinaand Andy at the more expensive water edge Ginger House.

Of course we had whatever was on the menu that had ginger in it. I had the grilled fish 870 rupees / NZ$18.30 / US$13.50 plus a couple of Ginger lime soda at 170 rupees / NZ$3.60 / US$2.60 each. Desert was their Ginger ice cream with banana chips 350 rupees / NZ$7.40 / US$5.40. Total 1,510 rupees / NZ$31.80 / US$23.40.

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http://www.gingerhousecochin.com/

Here are Google Images
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=ginger+house+restaurant+kochi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjcwZ_r07fZAhUS5rwKHQ_GCScQsAQIVQ&biw=1536&bih=734

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/restaurants/ginger-house/a/poi-eat/1293661/356338

A pleasant 2 hours before walking the 2.5 km back along the by now familiar road. While there was a more direct route, this one was more interesting. So a few more street scenes were captured by my lens.

More useless information = first quality chilli is 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 a kilo.

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Now 3pm / 15:00 and time to upload some images in the comfort of the air con hotel room.

Phrem suggested that I go down to the Chinese fishing nets to take some sunset photos. Shown where the Kathakali theatre was and down to the waterfront I headed.

Pity the sun wasn't in the position of the postcards nor that there was any clouds.

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Kathakali

The evening performance of Kathakali is a form of traditional dancing from Kerala. Considered one of the oldest dance forms in India, Kathakali is a combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes re-enact stories from the Hindu epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. This dance drama is famous for amazing costumes, extensive makeup explosive body movements and is performed exclusively by men.

http://www.kathakalicentre.com/

What do I think of the performance? Unless one was really interested in local dance and yes, this form of dance is unique, let's just say that it should be an optional extra. I'm glad that I was at the back with my monopod so that I could stand to take the few pictures / videos that I did but it also meant that I could also take a........ I'll let you finish the sentence.

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A group headed to Fusion Bay for dinner. Meen Thilappichathu or fish in spicy kerela broth. Yes, the most popular recipe used by families in Cochin of fish boiled with turmeric powder, chilli and vinegar certainly had some kick in it. Wow! That plus the ginger lime soda and basmati rice finished off the day. 540 rupees / NZ$11.40 / US$8.40.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/restaurants/fusion-bay/a/poi-eat/1557307/356338

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Posted by bruceontour 11:05 Archived in India Tagged palace kerela dutch ginger kathakali fort_kochi Comments (0)

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