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Madurai to Varkala

We arrived in Madurai by train and had a man with a cart take r bags as we walk a short distance to our Hotel. After some showers and freshening we did a brief city walk. The people here seemed way more friendly and overall smiled back more. People didn't seem as pushy to get us into their stores too which was nice.

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in the southern bank of river Vaigai in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Meenakshi and her consort, Shiva, named here as Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai
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There are four towers or gopurams on the outside- There are ten gopuram supposedly all together the tallest of which, the famous southern tower, rises to over 170ft and was built in 1559. The oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan during 1216-1238
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Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plastic figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the inner enclosure of Sundareswarar shrine.
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We were able to go into part of the temple but could not take any photos. Off With the shoes once more. I've gotten use to it and actually it was very clean even though you are walking on stone floors. It feels right. It was likening walking into something from Indiana Jones with many stone and gold figures and shrines. People were coming to pray and make offerings and there was beautiful chanting being heard throughout as we walked.

Sam, Chetan and Dhilip
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As we started to make our way to a nice roof top restaurant for dinner we had to pause for there were shrines being returned to the temple. So a small crowd formed as a camel and decorated elephant lead the way for some highly decorated shrines went whisking through the temple's main entrance.

The next morning I woke early and had some great chai with Chetan at two places. Here is an example of how some places in the South serve it so you can pour it back and forth to mix it.
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One was this great place right across the street that was busy all day passing out chai and some fried snacks. Had a bit of those for breakfast later.
We had the rest of the day to wonder and Thom and I went for a morning walk to the tailor market to get two of my shirts patched up.

Later that night we went to a South Indian restaurant and Thom and I each had a dosa these big triangle crepe type things served on banana leaves with yummy chutneys to dip it into. My favorite was of course the coriander and then the tomato in second.

That night we took a very late train to Varkala.
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It was by far the worst train we have ever been on. We new it was going to be un- conditioned, fair enough, that wasn't the bad part really, it was just low budget dirty, had mattresses, no curtains gross.
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I felt almost a little bad for the newer people that joined our trip as this was their first overnight train. On top of that unfortunately Neil and Diane the couple from New Zealand had one of their small bags taken right from under their eyes as we were all trying to settle into our beds. Luckily none of their important documents like their passports were in it but they did lose their camera :-( Strangely enough the next day we found out that the officials had found their bag and had sent and contacted Monty our last guide about it as it had his information from the last part of our trip in it. Monty also said that he was sending them a flash drive with all the pictures he had collected and took from our part of the trip with him to them as well---LOVE that guy!!!

So now we are in Varkala and it is just the taste of tourist relaxation I think us who already traveled through the North have been waiting for. Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and the sandy bay here is protected by soaring cliffs.
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The beach sits below the rock face whilst the town itself sits prettily along the cliff edge above, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels.
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Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
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Thom's dinner
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We had lovely coffees and chill out time here on and off.
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The second day I got a message and facial and Thom got a message. I got two hours worth of services and spent about $60 with tip. A little more personal then those we are use to in the states but still really nice none the less...he he he.

August 15 was also India's Day of Independence so Paige Megan and I all opted for checking out a local ceremony at a nearby school.
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Thom opted for checking out the fishermen bringing in some of their early catches.
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Overall it was just the nice relaxing two days we needed and earned I would say. Tomorrow we leave really early and will be doing a homestay with a local family.

Posted by Kelly Rose 08:21 Archived in India

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What a FANTASTIC voyage! All the beauty of the earth. All the beauty of the sky. All good things which from our birth, over and around us lie.... and to think I never would have seen the glory of the temples and the treasures of India without your being there. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mom and Dad

by Mom and Dad

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