• Brihadishwara Temple
• Thanjavur Palace
Brihadishwara Temple, designated a World Heritage Site and only a couple of clicks from hotel, not too far by Shangsies Pony, i.e. walking.
As I am passing the bus station I swing into check the bus schedule. My LP turns back into the LL as there are no direct buses. I have to change in a place that’s beyond pronunciation. Oh well, c’est la vie.
Tanjavurians refer to this temple as ‘The Big Temple’ and it is. And today is special day as its one of the Hindu’s fourteen festival days. Yesterday evening there were little candles everywhere and fireworks going off – loudly! Actually the little candles moved me as I think does us all.
This temple is radically different from the other temples I have visited. It seems that there are clusters of similar temples in a certain regions. This temple has a huge courtyard surrounding the temple. Similar to a church, one enters and walks the length of the church to the nave and the Alter, similar with this temple.
But rather than a cross there is this huge symbolic Lingam, i.e. penis, four metres high with a circumference of seven metres. In they come, the devotees and stand and pray to this erect penis. Why not just take Viagra for Lingam’s sake if you can’t get it up. But then again, it must work considering there’s over billion and the majority under the poverty line. And taking about penis’, the restaurant in the hotel is called ‘Lingam Restaurant’. Imagine if you will a bowling alley called ‘Penis Alley’ or a bakery called ‘Penis Bread’ – we make it rise.
I walk through the Information Centre and look at pictures from 1950 and 2005 and see the extent of the restoration which has taken place. In fact there are over a 100 workers still restoring, more than all the road workers put together.
The grass is green, there’s no cattle feces, in fact no cattle, no spitting, and no urinating and I ask myself, “why does an Indian respect either a temple or a mosque and yet not one metre outside the temple?” It’s the same when I was a boy as we never saw that throwing anything on the ground as wrong. Not so much wrong but trying to keep things clean and enjoy nature. I like living in Canada, in a country where I hope people don’t need laws but do it out of concern.
Next the dilapidated Thanjavur Palace where the current Prince still resides in the good part which is not open to the public. The wars that occurred here, one punch-up after another and then the British came with bigger and better guns so it wasn’t that different. The end result was that the poor just got a different boss and today it isn’t that much different.
The museum unfortunately is so run down but had an interesting collection of memorabilia; two I found interesting are music manuscripts. The Indian style uses three staff’s rather that the European five, very similar but very different as the Indian manuscript didn’t denote duration by the style of the note, rather a sign under the note.
I re-go to the bus station and check out what platform my bus leaves tomorrow and then to verify the information at the Tourist Office. The woman I met there yesterday greets me with a smile and I tell her my tale of woe – she’s surprised that there’s no direct bus. Overhearing me, a young man comes up and tells me that there is another option: a train then a bus. OK, thanks and I head for the train station.
Most Indian’s are so helpful and the clerk is no exception. “Yes, you take this train and get off a Myladuthurai (try saying that even sober) and then take the bus to Chidambaram), a 71 kms journey at a cost of 13 Rupees. OK, it’s the cattle car but still, that’s only 30 cents!
So back to the hotel and see a young English guy in the lobby. “Didn’t our paths cross earlier today” I ask, and we chat for a while. He’s heading to Chennai to watch the England vs. India Cricket Test Match which is dominating Television here. Actually I am watching it too as there’s only rubbish on.
I go to the train station to get my ticket from Puri to Darjeeling and bollocks, there’s a wait list and I am lucky number 13. I don’t want to go to Chennai as I don’t do beaches or big cities but I have to be in Darjeeling by the 27th as my Bhutan trip is booked for the 28th.
I meet up with William, the Brit and we meet up at the Lingham. We chat and we’re joined by Patrick, an OZ who is traveling around India on a motorbike – a Royal Enfield! We chat and we chat and we chat, William heads off for his train and Patrick heads back to his room for a smoke, nudge-nudge.